Segunda Caida

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

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Lucha Azteca Workrate Report 7/19/14

These matches were all from the 7/4 Arena Mexico show, on a day that was decidedly less celebratory than any events happening in the United States that day. I'm not sure anybody in Mexico sat through a fireworks show while a Lee Greenwood CD played.

1. Valiente, Titan & Atlantis vs. Ultimo Guerrero, Niebla Roja & Gran Guerrero

Really fun match. Primera had some fun mat rolls with Valiente and Gran Guerrero, two guys I've never seen go on the mat against each other. They do a series of fun little ankle picks leading into some nice Valiente arm drags. We get UG ripping Atlantis' mask and a big time Atlantis dive. Valiente had some more killer moments in the tercera, hitting some nice ranas (with a beautiful one off the top on Roja) and a super fast dive that Roja mans up for on the catch. Titan and Guerrero clumsy up some things here, with both doing offense that dumps them on their own heads. Titan throws in more silly somersaults than usual, coming off like a more snug RVD at some points. Ending was a nice little surprise as it looked like Atlantis was gonna get the pinfall on UG, but GG sneaks in and snares him into a nasty little submission.

2. Tiffany, Dalys & La Seductora vs. Princesa Sugheit, Lluvia & La Vaquerita

Damn this is kind of digging deep for the women's division. Vaquerita isn't somebody who really pops up that often. And the match is about as forgettable as a lucha trios can be. It's super short, even for just a straight falls match, and is really just a bunch of chopping and poor rope running with some nice apron dives thrown in at the end. Vaquerita didn't look like much, Dalys seemed off her game, Sugheit was working tecnica and seems to thrive when being a dick. Tiffany is always eminently watchable to me, but there just wasn't enough here to warrant even showing it.

3. Rush, La Sombra & La Mascara vs. Negro Casas, Shocker & Mr. Niebla

Oh man, Rush and his boys come out in suits, pork pie hats, Mascara is wearing a vest, Sombra has his dress shirt unbuttoned way too low under a suit jacket, Rush is wearing no shirt under his jacket. They look like the three most aggressive dry humpers at the club. They look douchey enough that one of them should have "Don't you know who I am?!" tattooed on them. And this match was awesome. It was way more even than most matches between these two teams, and while there was never any real flow to it, that was because each team kept cutting off the other in logical ways. It was a really great use of 6 people as right when one side would gain an advantage, a guy who had been on the floor or apron would come in and cut the momentum right off. The work in this was as stiff as expected, with Sombra rattling Shocker's teeth with plenty of elbows, Mascara delivering plenty of on-point superkicks of the non-thigh slap variety, Rush and Casas each leaving boot imprints on the other's face. Shocker had a great showing here with some of his best selling ever. At one point he fell on his butt after some Sombra elbows and it was downright Kawada-esque. Earlier while selling his knee he valiantly limped right into a Mascara superkick. Niebla hits a dive out the corner past the turnbuckles like it was 1999, Rush boots a charging Casas right off the rampway, Sombra goes full douche by posing while splayed out across the middle rope, and this shit was all awesome. Go watch this.

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Monday, September 29, 2014

MLJ: Hijo del Santo vs Blue Panther 11: El Hijo Del Santo & Mil Mascaras vs. Blue Panther & Arkangel de la Muerte

Taped 1/28/01 @ All Japan
El Hijo Del Santo & Mil Mascaras vs. Blue Panther & Arkangel de la Muerte

This is a very specific sort of lucha match. I know this because I've seen the sort before. I would call this almost more of an exhibition than a match. It was in front of a large (though apparently disappointing) All Japan Egg Dome crowd for a monumental Baba Memorial show which also had the Hansen retirement ceremony. It was the third match a card that also had Rotunda, Hennig, Windham, Liger, Funk, Onita, Abdullah, and Kamala on it. It was celebratory and was meant to be celebratory.

It was also sort of a parody and exactly what you'd expect. I say parody because the difference between Mil and Santo was night and day. To the crowd, Mil was the bigger star. They were excited for his elaborate costume in his entrance, for the first time he got into the ring, for his big plancha towards the end of the match. I'd go so far as to say that he tried in his pairing against Arkangel. He had good reason considering how Panther and Santo started the match.

By this point I've seen the two of them work against each other a number of times. They may have been flashier or more energetic earlier in their careers, but by this point, with Santo at 37 and Panther at 40, they were absolutely masters of their craft. The opening matwork jumped off the screen. There was a sense of elaboration and complexity, both in moves and counters, but none of it felt collaborative. There was always a sense of struggle, yet such direction and momentum. At no point did they have to compromise on either smoothness nor competitiveness. It's the sort of stuff I could watch all day. In their second exchange, they had some headscissors spots that were just out of this world. The match didn't have much else, but it definitely had this.

So, as I said, when it was time for Mil to have a go at it, he tried, but he tried in a very Mil Mascaras sort of way. He gave Arkangel absolutely nothing. Instead he bullied him from one hold to the next. There was no ebb and flow. There was no back and forth. I wouldn't even call it shine because there's at least an aura of competition there. It was squash. There wasn't any heat to the match. The rudos got to take over on Santo for maybe fifteen or twenty seconds here or there, but when you have a lucha tag match with no heat, you have a match with no drama, with no heart or meaning or weight. It was also a match with a ref who wasn't part of the program. After Santo's first tope suicida the match just stopped. The dives work in trios matches because they serve to create shifts in the action. They're page breaks, built to and then allowing for something else to begin. Here, everything stopped until they were able to stumble back to the ring to tag. It was a hell of a dive too, with Santo and Panther going right over the barrier and then a table. It was a shame that they then had to make a tag before the match could keep going. It sort of defeated the structural purpose of the dive.

I would have liked to see more out of Arkangel. He just didn't have many opportunities. He did sell to a huge extent for Mil, so that was something. Really, I think they gave the crowd what they wanted, some fun matwork, a few big moments from Mil, a couple of dives. I think it's not Santo's best performance. There was confusion with the ref and his tope after the somersault senton seemed off. They ended it with the big flipping roll up on Panther with Mil leaping over them to hit the body press on Arkangel and it all served its role. Post match there was a great moment when Mil called the Destroyer over and the fans went nuts. The match is worth seeing for that but more especially for the opening Panther/Santo matwork but it really didn't have much else going for it.

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Uprising: Lucha Libre Workrate Report 9/27/14

As best I can tell this didn't air last week, or it just aired at a different pay for play time. Whatever my DVR recorded was some sort of music festival held in the parking lot of a Mexican market. There was a 7 year old girl who was pretty impressive. And a 12 year old boy who had a lot of work to do with his stage directions. He spent a lot of time not knowing what to do with his non-mic hand, and stared down at the stage a lot.

Talk about feast or famine. The last several weeks (for better or worse) we've been getting matches from PWR's most recent 2014 shows. And now we get matches from 2/27/10, almost 5 years ago! You can tell it was another lifetime ago because Brian Cage is at ringside and looks closer to my size than the freakish size he is today. Or, he actually looks like a normal human being than a bloated, gassed up freak.

1. Kafu vs. Vaquero Fantasma

I'll cut to the chase on this match and say that it went 8 minutes and ended in a double count out. Maybe you have a better explanation than me as to why they'd pay money to show a 5 year old match as inconsequential as this. Surely they have better classic matches than this in their archives? You could argue that both of these guys are still PWR regulars, so here's a look back at an earlier match in their PWR career. I could see that. Now, the problem with that is that both guys looked in way better shape here than they currently are. It was especially noticeable in Fantasma, who was not only way more slender but wrestled noticeably better. I've seen him live a couple of times and always wondered why he seemed better on TV than in person, and now I know. The live matches are current, the TV matches I liked him in were all from 2010. It's kind of shocking to see how much he's regressed as a worker, but there it is. He looked really good here, bringing a lot of energy and nice strikes to it. I really loved his body punches and chops, and he leaned into some Kafu kicks nicely. Kafu looked sluggish as usual. Here he was in full faux Brody mode (keep in mind he's a guy who actually said he had never seen Brody wrestle before. He just must have decided independently to wear fur boots, stomp around holding his wrist and yelling "Huss!"), meaning he threw some of the loosest stomps you've seen. Kafu wrestles like a giant power wrestler, with the problem being that he's not very powerful, and not a giant. He's 6'2" tops, and while his physique has never looked powerful, he's also never shown any kind of impressive strength that would still be possible with a meh body. He throws these dinky little clotheslines that look more like little running punches. Just bad looking stuff. So yeah, we get some guys doing stuff, before Fantasma just leaves the ring with Kafu chasing, and we get the double count out. Yay! Here's what Pro Wrestling Revolution themselves had to say about this match:

"KAFU picked up from when we last saw him and became an over night sensation. Vaquero Fantasma is on the same boat but with not the same amount of fans in his corner."

I'm…not sure what any of that means.

2. Pierrothito vs. Ultimo Dragoncito

Pretty cut and dry touring match for these guys. This is not the UD that is currently in CMLL, this guy is little smaller, slightly more stocky. But if somebody told you that you were about to watch a 7 minute lucha minis singles match, you could jot down the framework of this match ahead of time and easily predict 80% of this. We start with some fun comedy matwork, with UD being the aggressor and trying to work power moves like waist locks and headlocks, with Pierrothito tossing him all around. UD locks on some armbars which Pierrothito stands up out of, with UD getting him back down with armdrags into armbars. Pierrothito bumps nicely to the floor and we get two nice big dives from UD, one large crossbody from the top, and another tope through the bottom ropes. Back in we hit some roll-ups, with the weakest looking one (a majistral that looked like it was not easily holding Pierrothito down) winning the match even though Pierrothito clearly kicked out at two, which leads to awkwardness as even the announcers (recording this in post) don't know what to make of it at first. Seems like an odd thing to purposely include in the broadcast.

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Lucha Azteca Workrate Report 7/12/14

These matches were all from the 6/27/14 Arena Mexico show.

En Busca de un Idolo Cibernetico:

1. Negro Casas, Barbaro Cavernario, Dragon Lee, Cachorro & Soberano Jr. vs. Virus, Rey Hechicero, Guerrero Negro Jr., Star Jr. & Super Halcon Jr.

Ciberneticos tend to be fun exhibitions during the initial pairings, and then kinda pointless once they run through the inevitable string of six eliminations in 4 minutes. Out of the early pairings Cavernario/Star Jr. was really fun with really fast work, with Star breaking out really cool armdrags. Hechicero always finds neat new ways to bump to the floor. Cachorro hits the dive of the match, almost beheading Star over the barrier. Soberano hits a crazy tornillo, Casas hits a violent Thesz press off the apron onto Virus, even Halcon hits a nice flip dive. Hechicero was such a big deal in the tourney that I wish he was given more to do here. He gets to hit a great Fuerza bump and takes a nutso slingshot rana from Cachorro, but I wanted more. Seeing Hechicero work Casas was just a brutal tease as it just showed how desperately the upper card needs this guy in there regularly. Dragon Lee makes Guerrero Negro look like a monster, wiping out onto the side of his head on a clothesline. Virus lets Dragon Lee kick him a bunch, and Lee is a guy with some nice looking kicks. I had seen that Phil wrote this up when it happened, and I am stunned that he didn't comment on Cavernario and Hechicero BOTH pulling down their straps when they squared off. Hechicero also does his weird inverted monkey flip to sort of hotshot Cavernario. And then they have to have a double pinfall elimination, because of the stupid awful Torneo Cibernetico charter of 2005, which states "Henceforth all Ciberneticos must have a stupid fucking double pinfall elimination where both men have their shoulders down in a move that otherwise would never be counted as a pinfall, but for dogshit lazy reasons will be counted as a double pinfall in this instance because fuck you." We get a long Casas/Virus showdown to end it which is really fun. Also made me think how odd it is that these two have been around forever, but this was probably the most I've ever seen the two of them match up. Which is sad. I liked this match a lot more than Phil, I thought it was much better than the other ciberneticos over the last few years.

2. Rush, Ultimo Guerrero & La Sombra vs. Atlantis, Shocker & Mr. Niebla

Super fun match that delivered even more than I expected. Sombra really came off like a star here. Really great 1st fall rudo beatdown, with Niebla getting kicked off the rampway into the crowd, Sombra running around giving big boots to everybody, Rush caving in Niebla with his corner dropkick. Big intensity. Tecnicos get quick revenge in the segunda, and the tercera is really hot. Niebla gets to slap Rush around, hitting him with his big slap on the floor, and then back in the ring when Rush covers his face Niebla just sweeps his legs out. Sombra leans way into Shocker's stuff, and they have a good strike exchange with Sombra throwing his awesome left/right elbows. UG obviously rips Atlantis' mask, and Niebla and Shocker awesomely cheat to win, with Niebla pinning Rush with his feet on the ropes. Sombra unmasks himself but Shocker don't care and just pins him, with the ref not noticing. Fun match.

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Fuchi Friday: Masa Fuchi/Jumbo Tsuruta/Great Kabuki v. Mitsuharu Misawa/Akira Taue/Kenta Kobashi 5/26/90

Masa Fuchi/Jumbo Tsuruta/Great Kabuki v. Mitsuharu Misawa/Akira Taue/Kenta Kobashi 5/26/90

Really fun old dudes vs. young guys trios match. The more I watch of him, the more I dig The Great Kabuki, he doesn't do much except spin kicks and uppercuts, but they are nasty and awesome spin kicks and uppercuts, he really lays it into the youngsters when he comes in the ring. The early part of the match was built around Misawa v. Jumbo as they kept interrupting the regular flow of the match by jumping in the ring after each other. It was a cool thing that All Japan does, where guys are having a wrestling match and all of a sudden business picks up. Fuchi did what he did best in the early 90's tear up Kenta Kobashi's knee, and this all built to an exciting finish run. Not an absolute high end trios, but pretty much any combo of six guys in this fed was going to be fun to watch

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MLJ: Rush vs Casas 9: La Sombra, Marco Corleone, Rush vs Felino, Mephisto, Negro Casas

Aired 2014-06-09
taped 2014-05-26 @ Arena Puebla
La Sombra, Marco Corleone, Rush vs Felino, Mephisto, Negro Casas

Variation is really key with these matches. They switch out one or two of the wrestlers and things feel fresh. They have to because they're working the same crowds every week or close to it. Here we've got Mephisto and Felino on the rudo side. If I had to pick I'd take Felino over Niebla probably. He can bring it a little bit better even if his brand of comedy is more offensive. It's not more offensive structurally. I'm sure Mephisto is wonderfully happy Averno left. He's stuck in this match getting Felino's armpit stuck in his face as a pre-match ritual. Sombra and Rush have Marco with them, which is the unofficial Ingobernales unit I like the best. Visually and even in his work, Mascara's sort of a poor man's Sombra in a lot of ways. Marco at least brings something different to the table but he's more than happy to work in the Ingobernales style and forget he's a tecnico.

This was a rare beast, a 2014 match that didn't start with an ambush. Despite the fact that Marco does fit in well with Sombra and Rush, there was a moment at the start of the match where there was a slight disconnect. The rudos actually got to act like rudos to begin. After a bit of Mephisto/Rush sequence and matwork, Mephisto drew him into the rudo corner and the cheapshots and interference started. Then Casas tossed the newly-battered Marco into the tecnico corner because he wanted Rush and everything inverted. Sombra and Rush charged the ring together and the tecnicos became rudos and the rudos became babyfaces and the beatdown was on. It was a nice little transformative touch, which means they're probably going to reuse it in the next three matches.

Marco was quick to join in on the act, participating in the beatdown and suplexing Casas to take a very brief primera, that was really all that transformative moment and not much else. The beatdown continued between falls, with Rush sticking Felino's leg in a planted chair in the crowd and tossing Casas into the wall. No one has the energy for a beatdown quite like Rush. There was a nice whip into a Rush superkick too. Some of this, then led to parallel spots in the comeback. It began with Sombra holding Casas for another Rush superkick only for him to move and Sombra to eat it in the face. Then Casas stuck rush's leg in a chair so he could beat him down while Felino choked the hell out of Marco. For some reason Mephisto got to get the shine here, pinning Sombra with the Devil's Wings and Marco after he tied him up. Looking at results, I don't see what they were building Mephisto up for but it was pretty heated and effective altogether.

It led to a reset in the tercera, and one with some comedy at that. I think we've seen this before, when you have a heated match and they break it up with shtick or sequence. Sometimes it can drain the heat away, but if it's done quickly, and leads right back into, say, rush and Casas beating the heck out of each other, it can be effective. Here it was Felino and Marco and it was perfectly fine except for the fact I think I've seen this exact bit with the armpit and the slow delay punch thing a half dozen times. I actually paused the match to try to figure out if I'd seen it before, but no, it was just the act. That took me out of the match more than it would have if it was all fresh. Thankfully, it did lead right into Casas and Rush again and the second Rush hit his headbutt out of the corner, they had me again. It also worked because the end of the Fall wasn't going to be focused on Rush vs Casas. Instead, Marco and Casas did a bit more comedy and took themselves out of the equation, Rush finished off Felino with his side suplex and Mephisto ate Sombra's moonsault.  In the end, it worked. Again, this isn't one of those matches that'll be a MOTYC but it was well worth watching, and was really satisfying. It had a clever set up for the beat down, a solid beat down, a great, heated comeback, and then some straightforward and fun trios wrestling with both heat and comedy to take things home. Matches like this are just a simple joy.

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Lucha Azteca Workrate Report 7/5/14

2014 Leyenda de Azul

feat. Valiente, Maximo, Rush, Rey Escorpion, Ultimo Guerrero, Euforia, Atlantis, Shocker, La Sombra, Super Porky, Mr. Niebla, Terrible, Rey Bucanero, Dragon Rojo Jr., La Mascara & Vangellys

We start with a battle royal to decide Group A and Group B teams and much of the battle royal is spent with me watching and wondering how the hell Porky is going to take a bump over the top rope. La Mascara has never watched a battle royal before as he takes a break to celebrate on the apron while the camera cuts to two people old enough to know better wildly tongue kissing in the crowd. Niebla takes a fast and crazy looking elimination bump. UG takes his elimination like a man getting monkey flipped by Atlantis and flipping wildly to the floor. Escorpion just walked over and punched Porky in the boob (left). Ohhhhh all of the first 8 people eliminated are all in one Group. That makes sense. But also means that I didn't get to see how Porky would take his elimination bump since he was clearly in the group of guys who didn't get eliminated.

The cibernetico itself starts out pretty hot with Rojo hitting a big rana off the apron onto Euforia and then Porky shockingly being the next person in the ring (I assumed he would need a bit of a breather before getting back in) and damn if I don't really dig Porky's bit with UG, seeing Porky take a big bump off a stiff shoulder block and come back with a deep arm drag. Nice. Escorpion hits a nasty baseball slide through the bottom ropes into Rush, with Rey flying all the way out to the floor. Rush and Vangellys have a real fun run (for two guys who never actually fight each other due to affiliations) with Rush really kicking the shit out of him but also leaning face first into a seated Vangellys dropkick. Shocker adding the Stunner actually fits pretty well with his style and isn't soul crushing like indy Lawler doing it. Valiente hits the most badass high speed headbutt tope on Niebla and then we get a cool UG Euforia showdown which obviously has never happened, ending with Euforia hitting a wild dive. Holy shit and then we get Porky/Maximo…but Sombra and Mascara are dicks and break it up before anything happens, but that does lead to Porky hitting a headscissor/headlock takeover on both so who can be mad? Escorpion hits a giant guillotine leg drop on Rojo, which is not a move you see much anymore, for whatever reason. Porky is a special kind of fat, as his belly sticks out just as much when he's lying down as when he's standing. Rush has mastered the rich dick hair flip. Maximo hits a couple really cool delay hang time arm drags on Escorpion. Eventually things end up with Atlantis opposite Ultimo Guerrero and they have their standard exchanges and work about a 4 minute singles match. We get some mask ripping, a nice Atlantis dive, some big move nearfall exchanges that I zoned out during, and a win for Atlantis.

Overall this was much more interesting than many of the ciberneticos they've run over the last few years. This was given WAY more time than most of those (excluding the battle royal this clocked in at over 30 minutes) so you didn't have a bunch of awful strung together eliminations off moves that would never end a regular caida. Add to that the battle royal setting the teams provided some unique match-ups that I've never seen. It sounds odd to like a match in part because Euforia did a cool headscissors to UG, but lucha match-ups and feuds don't always get mixed up that much, so it was neat seeing brief "new pairing" moments. Fun match, tons of cool stuff in it.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

MLJ: Rush vs Negro Casas 8:La Máscara, La Sombra, Rush vs Mr. Niebla, Negro Casas, Ripper

Aired 2014-05-10
Taped 2014-05-02 @ Arena México
La Máscara, La Sombra, Rush vs Mr. Niebla, Negro Casas, Ripper

We soldier on towards Rush vs Negro Casas. On the rudo side here we had Ripper again, this time in a match not set up to focus on one of his feuds. He also had (and someone correct me if I'm wrong here) Cuije with him, complete with mini snake, which is always pretty awesome. On the "tecnico" side, we had the full Ingobernales line-up, including Mascara doing the ring introductions for his side, which is entirely the best thing he does. It adds a lot to the act and it's not like he stands out with much else. Niebla's with Casas and that made me a bit wary considering the bullshit he pulled in the last match I saw with him, but this was actually significantly better. It was both tempered and had some pay off.

So about 80% of these matches seem to begin with Rush and company ambushing Casas' side, to the point where when it doesn't start that way, it's refreshing. Here it wasn't quite refreshing, but at least it was done well with Mascara and Sombra hiding on either side of the ramp to ambush Casas when he came charging towards Rush. Thus began the mauling, and it was a pretty good one too, lasting all the way into the tercera since Rush tossed a chair at Casas' head to end the primera on a DQ.

Sometimes I wonder if I don't want enough out of lucha, or maybe, if I want the wrong thing. All it really takes to make me happy is a great beatdown and a great comeback. If there's a really good shine in the primera or alternatively a triumphant showing by the tecnicos(or let's say the faces since the lines are blurred here), then that adds a lot too, but really it's satisfying beatdown to charge up the potential energy (the heat), and then a comeback to pay it all off. That's all I want.

We got it here. The beatdown was full of fun stuff, past the chair shot. They tossed Niebla into a nasty Rush dropkick. Rush pulled Casas around by his hair and slammed him into the sideboard. When Niebla tried his no selling BS (and there was one guy in the crowd in a Niebla match that was all about it) he got kicked in the head. Rush hit a huge senton on Ripper and stomped on Casas's throat repeatedly and they took the segunda with the running corner attacks, with Sombra punctuating it during the pins with his fantastic hyper knee on Ripper.

The comeback lived up to the hype of the heat. There are two or three things that Niebla does really well. One, he can fall off the apron successfully and get a great laugh when the situation is right. Two, he can catch his own spit and pop the crowd when the situation is right. Three, he's got a hell of a punch when he wants to use it. He used it here, as Rush was charging in at him after slipping out of being held by the others. We ended up with some Casas vs Rush, a machine gun dive-fest with Sombra cutting off Casas' dive with an perfectly timed kick, Niebla hitting a tope anyway, Mascara hitting him with a tope in return, and Sombra finishing things with an Asai moonsault to set up Rush vs Casas again. Casas dropkicked the knee, hit La Casita, and the rudos picked up the win (complete with Niebla tying up Mascara amusingly).

Post-match, Sombra sulked in the crowd again and everyone yelled at each other on the mic. Definitely a satisfying trios. If they're going to start things off with an ambush, that's a great way to do it.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Uprising: Lucha Libre Workrate Report 9/13/14

This was the main event of the 5/18/14 Morgan Hill show. Liger was working 2 hours away from my house and I had no clue until the next week when Phil asked me if I had gone to the show. I might not have made the trek even if I had known (120 miles each way isn't exactly "close") but I'm glad I'm getting to see what I missed. I actually didn't think they would end up showing this match, as they never showed either Hijo del Santo match from last year. Really happy they're putting this out there (yet still don't have many matches on youtube).

1. Jushin Liger vs. Blue Demon Jr.

Oddly the play-by-play guy calls Liger "The Thunder, Jushin Liger" a couple times to start. That's weird. This match had elements of a very good match but Demon was pretty clueless in his comeback timing, and also used a bunch of confusing rudo tactics throughout. Liger looked good and can now add an outdoor rodeo arena in Morgan Hill, CA to his list of "really weird places that I have worked". Best part of the match was the opening mat stuff which I really really dug. Demon did some cool reversals and other tricks that I've never seen him break out. Liger grabbed a keylock that allowed Demon to do a cool roll through into a leg pick. Both guys stretch the other in pretty cool ways, with both bending the other's arms and legs in cool ways. Demon breaks out the much missed Lasso from El Paso (don't actually know the lucha name of the submission), Liger locks in a cool modified figure 4. My favorite may have been when Liger went to lock in a surfboard and upon being stretched back Demon kicked out his legs and fell back into a pinfall. Real cool. After the opening mat stuff things got odd as Demon, being pushed as the gallant hero from Mexico, backs Liger into the corner and slaps him a few times across the face. Kind of an odd thing for a tecnico to do. Demon did hit a nice back elbow but even that felt like more of a sneaky rudo cheapshot. Later Demon would hold Liger's tights during a mat exchange which again, feels real weird for a tecnico to be doing.

Here we go into the more move exchange portion of the match, which was actually sequenced really well and would have made for a very good match, if Demon had any clue about comebacks and selling. Demon would always just pop right up after moves to immediately get his stuff in. Sometimes this can be the fault of the other guy, especially when the aggressor needs him to be in a certain position, but this was much more reminiscent of Kurt Angle not wanting to stay down for very long because it's more exciting to jump up and hit a suplex. When Liger hit palm strikes and his rolling kick only to see Demon stand up at the same time as Liger, things look funny. I mean, Demon hit a nice quebradora in this, but it felt misplaced coming right after a run of Liger offense. The worst of all was doing that right at the finish, completely no selling Liger's two biggest moves of the match and ending in the flattest way possible. Liger hit a real nasty brainbuster, got a 2 count, picked him up and gave Demon a powerbomb for another 2 count…and then Demon just gets up, charges at Liger for a double leg takedown and submits him. What? Awful finish. The kind of finish that's really only excusable if someone was about to shit their pants and had to immediately go home. Something tells me it was more about Demon not having an understanding of building drama, or very possibly just didn't care about building drama. Even if he didn't care about those things you'd think he would want to do more of an exciting finish then "I fall on top of you and submit you". Real dud of a finish that sadly ended an overall fun match. I am glad they showed it as I did enjoy the match, but man would I have been pissed at that finish had I driven 2 hours to see it.

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Monday, September 22, 2014

MLJ: Hijo del Santo vs Blue Panther 10: Juventud Guerrera, El Hijo del Santo, Negro Casas vs Blue Panther, Black Warrior, Shocker

Juventud Guerrera, El Hijo del Santo, Negro Casas vs Blue Panther, Black Warrior, Shocker

Just to start, I saw that some people were confused last week since I was talking about AAA when the match had nothing to do with AAA. I was just commenting on how I see the rudo ref trope in AAA a lot these days as a way to get heat in matches and how it's not a huge pull for me. That Panther vs Casas had a lot of it, but they overcame it through the talent of the guys in the match. That's all I was trying to indicate. Sorry if it was confusing. Anyway, just to continue the high level knowledge I'm dropping here, I couldn't possibly have less context for this match. Actually, that's not totally true. I know who all these guys are at least. Black Warrior is Black Panther, Blue Panther's nephew. Juventud is pretty self-evident but it was nice to get to see him within the scope of the project. Shocker was pretty young here.  He was an energetic addition to the trios match to say the least. So no context, and honestly, another problem I wasn't expecting. At the start of the match, I had to really focus on who was on which team: It's just counterintuitive to see Casas and Santo team, for some reason I kept thinking Juvi was a rudo, and even by the end of the match I wasn't entirely used to Black Warrior's mask. Shocker had already lost his by this point and Juvi came out with his on but took it off immediately, which is what Felino does sometimes and what I've seen Espanto, Jr. do even years after he lost the mask match to Santo. Juvi also had a random belt. Maybe it was the IWC Crusierweight title?

So, this is clipped, which is primarily frustrating since it robs us of the Panther vs Santo exchange from the opening segment. Why they'd pick that to cut I have no idea. The VQ isn't great either AND they decided to randomly to an attractive woman during key parts of the opening Shocker vs Juvi exchange. That's sort of funny. It's not as bad as the match I saw recently where they cut to a baby during the comeback. Regardless, the pairings were fun from what I saw. Shocker and Juvi were a natural match, fast-paced and smooth, and full of swagger. Juvi added so much to the match. He was just full of energy and while that might have frustrated me in a different setting, here, grounded by a number of great wrestlers and a solid story, he really added a lot. Black Warrior seemed to have come along a bit more since the last time I saw him and he both did matwork with Casas and had a chopfest.

The structure of the match was a little weird due to the fact they kept playing with injury angles and the ringside doctor, but it all came together in the end. First, after the initial pairings, Warrior totally planted Casas with a DDT; Casas took it really nicely and then sold it like death. Santo ignored everything to check on him while Shocker and Juvi fought in the ring. When it was time to finish the fall, Casas and Santo rushed back in and picked up the fall. Casas did a pretty good job selling throughout. After that we had a cut (and who knows how long this was) to a triple wheelbarrow suplex on Juvi which brought the doctors back in. Now that it was 3 on 2 again, the rudos took the fall with a big Warrior leg drop on Casas and Shocker hitting a death valley driver of all things. The only downside, past the clipping, was that Shocker then screwed up the double wrap around pin that Panther wanted to do with him. It didn't even look all that complicated. He just zigged where he should have zagged. Then the doctor got to check on Santo. They really overplayed their hand here since you so rarely see the doctor involved in other matches.

It did all sort of work, though. The tercera started with a bunch of pounding on Juvi, who made for a quite good FIP, actually. Then Santo tried to run it, got beat on too, and ducked a corner move and the comeback was on. The specter of physical danger from earlier in the match did make the comeback more heated, but it's not something they could do every week. Santo got a massive revenge DDT on the outside. Casas got a revenge inverted DDT on the inside. There's some really solid end-of-match exchanges in here too, setting up a big spot and a few dives. The key spot was Casas freeing Juvi from a standing Black Warrior submission only to dropkick him by accident. The key dives had Santo using Panther as a springboard to sail out onto Shocker and then Panther almost immediately thereafter diving out after him.

That cleared things up for the finish, with Juvi, still reeling from the Casas dropkick, getting taken out by Warrior. Casas followed up by dodging a low dropkick but as he was about to hit the Casita, Juvi came back in and attacked, causing the DQ. Another great trio with a few different characters to switch things up. It's a shame this was cut, especially the Panther vs Santo section but I came out of it really wanting to see a Juvi vs Casas match, so it definitely did its job.

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

WWE Night of Champions Live Blog

We figured we would give this another shot.

ER: I skimmed through the pre-show as it said on the heading there would be an "exclusive match". Unless it was 90 seconds long, I didn't see one. What I did get to see was Alex Riley talking about an abdominal hernia, Goldust with cool new facepaint, and Randy Orton making a 15+ year old South Park reference. Also, when they were showing highlights of Mark Henry rallying America, Alex Riley said "Now THAT was a solid American rally!" I hate watching preview shows for actual sports, not sure why having a show with Alex Riley is necessary with 5 hours of weekly TV already acting as a PPV preview show.

ER: Tag title match is up first, and they show photos of past tag champs, showing the Blackjacks, Hart Foundation, Legion of Doom, Edge & Christian and…Tony Atlas & Rocky Johnson?! They picked 5 tag teams to show, not sure how Atlas/Rocky made the cut. I guess they didn't have a good enough file photo of Bull Buchanan & The Godfather.

1. Goldust/Stardust beat the Usos

PAS: Man this was a great match. I have talked ad nauseum about how great Goldust is as a face in peril, but he is really great as an Arn Anderson heel working over a face in peril. Just nasty, I liked weirdo heel Stardust too, that glove slap spot was odd but worked with what they were doing. They had some neat counter spots, like Cody turning a Samoan drop into a neckbreaker and Dustin ducking one enzigiri and getting caught with a second. We had a great DGWWE crazy spot run finish and a great ending. Really looking forward to the rematch and whatever other face teams the Rhodes boys wrestle.

ER: Seriously Goldust's makeup is killer here. He also continues his 5 year streak of managing to look in better and better shape. The Dust Bros. have been one of my absolute favorite teams in WWE history, and the Usos are up there too. It's weird what happens when you let guys team for a long time. And this match was killer, a WWE tag match that finally lives up to the hype of all the really good ones earlier this year. Goldust is probably the most versatile guy in the company as he's easily the best FIP, but he's also an incredible aggressor. Here he adds an extra wrinkle by being the guy waiting to ambush an Uso when Stardust's eccentricity allows the Usos an opening. Jimmy hits Cody with a press off the barrier, Goldust is there with a nasty powerslam on the floor. Cody's squirrely goofball is a good thing for his ring work as it adds an intensity that wasn't there before. Him stomping an Uso while holding him by the puka shells was something that wouldn't happen before. Usos are real good FIP and their comeback uppercuts looked as good as ever, also really loved the connecting enziguiri on Goldust (after he ducked the first attempt) that led to the hot tag. I loved Stardust's cool neckbreaker out of a Samoan Drop. This was just a hot tag match, right up there with all the best ones from WWE this year.

2. Sheamus beat Cesaro to retain the US Title

PAS: That was as nasty as you would hope it would be. Really felt like a modern version of a Valentine v. Garvin match, with both guys just unloading with shots 1/3 harder then anyone else in this fed (except maybe Lesnar, we will see). Started out with some pretty gritty amateur wrestling and it kept building and building until it finished with the nastiest version of a New Japan slap finish, Okada and Tanahashi need to watch the end of this match on a loop.

ER: Opening standing and mat scrambles remind me of recent Thatcher/Gulak stuff, which is appropriate as those guys always remind me of Cesaro. Feels like Sheamus is a guy who should get pimped more as a top shelf guy. Maybe people are put off by his goofy promos? I think he's doing a fine job of replacing the Irish asskicker hole in my heart that Finlay's retirement left. Sheamus doing a drop toe hold, with Cesaro fighting it and Sheamus finally dragging him down by yanking on his arm was beautiful. These guys mesh so well together and neither has a problem laying in nasty shots. Both guys take turns seeing who can do a nastier kneedrop to the others' temple. I loved Sheamus getting flashy and "skinning the cat" to pull himself up to the top rope, but because of it not going smoothly it allowed Cesaro to immediately catch him with a big time uppercut. Phil made a WWEDG reference up above, made even more apt with Sheamus breaking out CIMA's Iconoclasm on Cesaro. SHIMUS? Finishing run of this is awesome, with both guys tossing each other around in cool feat of strength ways. Cesaro deadlifting a butterfly suplex and doing a weird fireman's carry slam made me rewind. God Cesaro has a great thrust kick and then follows that up with cool punches that he hardly ever uses. Sheamus pulling out the counter Brogue Kick was a fitting end as it was nowhere close to a decisive victory, so should hopefully lead to more of these two. Great match.

ER: Backstage Big Show pumps Henry up by telling him that 318 million Americans are Henry's tag partner tonight. Really though, there's a LOT of dead weight on that team.

3. The Miz beat Dolph Ziggler for the IC Title

PAS: Not bad for two guys I don’t care about and was stuck as a background to shilling that country act.  Actually built to a fun finish run, with the figure four being put over pretty hard,  I liked Ziggler selling the knee as part of the famasser. Full Worldwide point.

ER: Florida Georgia Line on commentary for the whole match makes me even less excited for this one. I'm a Ziggler fan but Miz is almost always FF time for me. I liked Ziggler in this, loved his rapid fire elbow drops. One of the guys in FGL has Beavis's hair. I'm sure Phil right now is talking about disliking Ziggler (note: I was totally right), but Ziggler is one of the athletic bumper type guys that Phil always dislikes, but usually likes something new he does in every match. Will they or won't they, right? The match did about as good as possible at using the seconds and FGL, and I really liked Ziggler putting over the Figure 4 as an actual damaging submission. That thing has been raked through the muck so much over the years that it was refreshing to see. Fun match that didn't overstay its welcome.

Reigns had emergency hernia surgery so the Rollins/Reigns match is off

4. Seth Rollins "beat" Roman Reigns by count out

PAS: Seth Rollins and Ambrose brawl was a nice piece of pro wrestling. I think everyone knew Ambrose was coming out, but no one does out of control nutcase as good as anyone. I loved his plancha on Jamie Knoble and Finlay, and I liked him being dragged out of the ring. Excited to see that match up again.

ER: I loved the camera showing Ambrose journey from backstage to ring. Actually felt like something they don't do that much anymore. Rollins flies over the top from a giant Ambrose clothesline and then gets tossed like a nut over the barrier. Ambrose does the best "through the crowd" brawls since Jimmy Jacobs or Necro Butcher. Ambrose cannonballed into a sea of agents like Gary Busey jumping into the pool in Point Break. God Ambrose would have been a perfect cast member of Point Break. I need a Point Break sequel with Ambrose as Bodhi Jr. You know Bodhi had to have tons of illegitimate children scattered around Santa Monica.

ER: Before the next match Lilian Garcia sings the National Anthem and Henry wells up with tears. I loved Henry's facials during the anthem, putting the song over more than any black man since Marvin Gaye at the All Star Game. Wrestling always seems to use the Anthem as a cheap pop but here it was fitting and Henry made it a legit powerful moment.

5. Rusev beat Mark Henry

PAS: I liked how this was worked at a slower pace then the earlier match, as it was built on stiffness and selling. Henry is great conveying emotion and selling. I loved the struggle when he finally got the worlds strongest slam up, and I liked how that was the last gasp Henry had in him. I feel bad because they built this up as a huge moment for Henry and had him fail. I am emotionally involved in Henry and I felt real disappointment.

ER: I liked this match but it was the first match of the night to fall below my expectations. Still, it was paced smartly and Henry was able to show how great he is at selling. I was very surprised they put Rusev this strongly over Henry, as he got to overpower and break him down. Rusev's superkick really looks great with the extra pump he puts into it, and I loved the one thrown at a hurt Henry while he was draped over the ropes. Henry's screams as Rusev locked on The Accolade were shockingly real. Henry's emotions in all this were incredible. I really hope they continue with this feud as I think it's good for both.

6. Randy Orton beat Chris Jericho

PAS: I have to give these guys credit for really trying their hardest to have a classic. Jericho was blistering Orton with chops, taking crazy bumps and working some really nifty counters and near falls.  That over the top bump was truly nuts for an old guy.  I am utterly indifferent to both guys, and they actually got me into it at the end.

ER: Man I wish there was a way to watch matches on the Network in double speed. Jericho looked good though, some of his chops were aimed at the throat, like Benoit used to do in matches against Regal. Jericho taking a crazy bump over the top past the turnbuckle got my attention. Michael Cole is the least convincing Diet Mountain Dew pitchman ever. I'm pretty sure the only people who buy Diet Mountain Dew are dads who bought it because they meant to buy regular Mountain Dew, the same accidental purchase market that allows Cheese Nips to exist. Jericho follows up his nutty earlier bump with a nice bump to the floor after Orton kicked him off a Walls attempt. Match overall was better than I expected and Jericho really busted ass. Orton is such a flatline for me though.

ER: Brie Bella is one of the worst stick workers in company history. Really lends creedence to a lot of Total Divas conversations being unscripted, as she actually sounds like she's having a real conversation most of the time on TD. But whenever she does a promo on TV she sounds like an alien trying its best to blend into American society.

7. AJ beat Paige & Nikki Bella for the Divas title

PAS: This is the night of everything exceeding expectations (except for Henry v. Rusev.) I have no reason to want to watch a longish Divas three ways, but this was pretty stiff and relatively entertaining. I liked Paige yelling "Why don't you love me" while headbutting her. I don't know the angle but Paige sort of got me into it in ring. Nikki Bella was sort of useless, but I might not fast forward through the Paige v. Lee rematch.

ER: I dug Nikki in this. She was probably useless as an addition to the match, but I didn't think her work within the match was useless. She cut real low on clotheslines, talks shit within matches more naturally than 90% of WWE workers (who usually work their matches silently) and had a couple cool slams (really liked her trapped arm forward slam). I'm actually amused by the AJ/Paige interplay, the weird not-totally-explained dynamic. I actually sorta kinda like Divas matches, which always leads me to telling Phil about them, and him telling me he won't watch them. So I'm glad he had to watch one here.

PAS: I really liked the stats intro for the Brock v. Cena match. The MMA stuff doesn't work for most match (it would be silly for something like Jericho v. Orton) but it works here.

ER: WWE seems to actually know when to smartly use stats breakdowns to hype matches, which is directly offset by the constant ear poison of their relentless Twitter stats and odd Facebook "like" brags (WWE has more likes than the U.S. Air Force!). But I dug the numbers breakdown here, and I love when they use the numbers to hype the Royal Rumble every year.

8. John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar for the WWE Title

PAS: I thought the first match this year was more of a spectacle then a great match, the rematch was more of an awesome wrestling match, with Cena learning from his mistakes and firing back with some really nasty looking potato punches and elbows. I also liked how Lesnar kept mixing in the Kimura.  I liked Cena totally unloading his entire arsenal on Lesnar, and I would have bought that being the finish. Really didn't like the Rollins run in, there had to be a better way to set up the third match.

ER: First match kind of left me a little speechless. I had no real way to analyze it. How many other times has a huge star taken that much of a beating without getting any real shine? So I was real excited for the follow up and I thought they delivered big time. I LOVE Cena getting German'd by Lesnar. I could watch that all day. Cena takes them impossibly great, like Inoki getting tossed by Vader. All of Cena's comebacks here were (I assume intentionally, though never picked up by the crack commentary team) based on Lesnar's past MMA weaknesses: Cena picking his ankle had echoes of Mir grabbing him, Cena overwhelming him with stiff punches and elbows was like Cain Velasquez completely overwhelming him with strikes. Cena's strikes here were really rough, especially his awesome back elbows (Rachel watching with me said "It looks like Cena's trying to hit Brock for real" which made Lesnar getting up with a bloody nose even cooler). The kimura reversals were great, and damn Lesnar holding Cena vertically in a kimura looked brutal, and I love Lesnar kicking out of Cena's AA's on the one count. I actually wasn't expecting a run-in, and I hope they don't do something silly like build a 3 way. But I did like the way Rollins stuff was handled even if it left the match really flat.

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Saturday, September 20, 2014

2014 Ongoing Match of Year List

14. Meiko Satomura v. Hiroyo Matsumoto Fortune Dream 6/8

PAS: Always happy to see Meiko show up and this was a great example of what she brings to a match. I hadn't seen Matsumoto before, but she was very fun too. Really violent match with Matsumoto focusing on Satomura's stomach landing viscous double knees to the gut like she was trying to give her an in-ring hysterectomy. Meiko fired back with some nasty elbows and her cool pele kick and cartwheel knee. Really sort of a star making performance from Matsumoto as she overcame the veteran with just big bomb after big bomb. Happy to find some Joshi I dig

ER: Really fun, easily digestible match. I follow joshi less than any other type of wrestling, so I couldn't tell you whether or not this was a big storyline where the younger Matsumoto overcame the veteran Satomura. I assume Matsumoto has been at this for awhile though as a) she looked really good, and b) at no point did we get any sort of veteran bullying that you see in joshi (and Japan in general). The whole match was real snug and had some of my favorite grappling of the year (which is impressive since this is the year of Gulak). The grappling in this was all based around standing exchanges which all looked real impressive and added neat new things. I think we all got so used to the mechanical and rehearsed Dean Malenko style standing exchanges that it's not always as apparent to our brains just how rehearsed and pointless all of that really was. Here it actually looked like two equals battling for an upper hand, not necessarily through strength but with cool go behinds and just bending each other into odd standing positions. All of that stuff was really great and kind of unexpected, to me at least. We still got all sorts of stuff you'd expect, like some great on point kicks from Meiko, and some uterus crushing knees from Matsumoto. Meiko still has little ways of surprising me, and my favorite little "some guy should steal that" moment here was when she did a leg sweep to Matsumoto's shin. I don't think I've seen that before. Normally you do a leg sweep to literally sweep the legs out from someone, but this was just a stiff sweep right to the shin, buckling Matsumoto. Great stuff here.


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Friday, September 19, 2014

Live CMLL Aniversario Review

You can get the stream here

I'll update with some thoughts after every match

Blue Panther/Dragon Lee/Cachorro beat Puma/Tiger/Felino

Fun but not great opener, which I imagine did it’s job in the arena. Had a hot beginning, bit of a meandering middle, and a crazy hot finish. Dragon Lee was as nuts as you would hope he would be. Doing a crazy dropkick to the floor, and a nutty assisted tope con hilo. Panther also broke out a triple tope which is bonkers for such an old dude. Match was sort of neither fish nor foul though, as we didn’t get to see Panther and Felino do their thing, and they might have been better off just making the match all crazy young guys.

Zeuxis won the Copa Femil beating Goya Kong/Marcela/Estrellita/Amapola/Tiffany/Dallys la Carbina/Princess Sugehit

Match with some highs and lows. The luchadoras cleared went all out for the big stage, and this had some big spots, although that ambition led to some stuff that didn’t look particularly good. I hadn’t seen Zeuxis before, she had some very crazy moves, including an asai moonsault and a bunch of nasty suplexes which ended up dropping ladies heads on her knees, although in between spots she would often look lost, she felt really indy. Still I was never bored.

Volador Jr./Mascara Dorada/Valiente beat Thunder/Euforia/Mr. Niebla

Short and mostly uneventful. Nibela has the outfit of the night so far with an awesome Kiss combo mask and paint. Match was mostly Thunder as a giant with everyone trying to knock him down, and he is not very good at wrestling. They had a nice dive train, but outside of that, this wasn’t very good, but it was compact.

Barbaro Cavenario beat Rey Cometa in a Cabellera contra Cabellera

Good match, although a step below a real MOTYC. It had each guy throwing out all of the crazy shit including Cometa opening up the match with a moonsault off of the ring entrance, and Barbaro hitting his superfly splash to the floor which is my favorite spot in wrestling, it is so reckless and violent looking. I still am not used to wager matches as spotfests, which is what this was. I need something a little more violent and a little less exhibitiony for me to truly fall in love with it. Still very much worth watching.

Negro Casas/Shocker beat Rush/La Mascara

Match of the night so far. I am never going to get tired of Rush and Casas beating on each, and Rush was at his douchebag best, smacking the old guys around violently slapping and dropkick them. Casas was firing back and using his guile to catch the younger more powerful team unaware. Rush was a beast in this, as was La Mascara and you really got the sense the veterans escaped with their titles by the skin of their teeth. I also liked Casas getting a bit of revenge for getting steamrolled for his hair.

Ultimo Guerrerro v. Atlantis

Wow. Totally exceeded my expectations. Really felt like a classic mascara contra mascara match. The stakes felt really high, two huge stars wagering their masks, which made every near fall huge. Ultimo Guerrero was throwing huge bombs, and Atlantis was trying to survive and catch him with the Alantida, there was a great moment where Guerrero hits the superbomb, rushes in an gets caught with the Altantida, only to have Atlantis collapse against the ropes unable to hold him. I didn't love the finish with UG hitting his reverse superplex, which is always a kill shot, only to get two, and then get caught in the Alantida, almost felt like Atlantis no sold it a bit. This was a superhero in a mask match, so I forgive it a bit, but I thought it was slightly abrupt. Still this might be the MOTY, I will have to rewatch it, but it felt huge. Postmatch is great with UG surrendering his mask while his family is sobbing and the crowd is throwing money

Such a treat to get to watch this live, and while some of the undercard was slightly disappointing, that main event was a treasure. 

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