Segunda Caida

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

Friday, October 31, 2014

Lucha Underground Episode 1: Welcome to the Temple Workrate Report

ER: I'm an actual El Rey and lucha fan, so if this show is marketed towards anybody, really I'm their prime audience. El Rey is actually a pretty cool channel. You get random Starsky & Hutch episodes shown in incorrect order with a different episode playing than the one the guide says it is (last week I saw a good one with Richard Lynch as a serial killer offing cab drivers), it's got cool movies like From Beyond and Switchblade Sisters, and now lucha. Cool stuff.

The opening makes it look like it wants to be Def Jam: Vendetta, just a bunch of guys in jeans and hoodies fist fighting in a warehouse. Then there's all this weird stuff about Aztec Warriors and the history of our seven tribes, which if anything is at least unique.

PAS: I am long past being interested in evil promoters, but I did like the B-Movie sleaziness of Dario. He really felt like a guy who must have a long career as Danny Trejo's cartel boss in direct to video action movies. I am going to lean positive for now on the cinematic interludes. I could see it being something which might bother me if it gets too silly, but for now it definitely distinguishes it from WWE while still feeling like it exists in the narrative world of professional wrestling, rather then feeling like an action movie.

ER: Is it weird to think this is the exact same building that Wrestle Society X was filmed in? The building looks similar and the stage with the band looks identical. I actually dug WSX so this is not a bad thing to me.

Promoter/Owner Dario Cueto kind of looks like a slick hispanic David Strathairn; slicked back hair, a briefcase full of $100,000. I like the slant of "rich business man offers money to wrestlers so they can fight for his amusement". I'm a big fan of "fight tournament" movies, where some guy with an island or drug empire brings in all the best talent to fight for him while he's not having sex with dead eyed women. Although if I was compiling a list of "men to fight for my amusement" I'm not sure how Aaron Aguilera would end up on the list...

1. Blue Demon Jr. vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr.

PAS: I get why they wanted to open the promotion with a battle of two scions of legendary lucha families,  but Demon is bad and putting him in the role of legendary maestro is a just poor casting. This would have been so much better if I had been Chavo vs. Villano IV or V and the storyline could have worked exactly the same (obviously Santo would have been perfect, but he wasn't available). Match was pretty weak, and I really hated the Foley art on the slaps, made it sound super fake.

ER: Matt Striker on commentary is talking about lucha history, giving fans some background on what makes lucha what it is, really presenting it to a crowd that has never seen lucha libre before. And I can't think of many worse luchadors to show a lucha libre first-timer, than Blue Demon Jr. I definitely liked this more than Phil, though. For a 5 minute Worldwide match it was better than fine. We had some cool opening matwork (with Demon actually selling the knee over 3 minutes later as a callback!), Chavo hit a cool float over armdrag, and big props to the camera work for cutting a couple frames to kind of smooth out a Demon headscissors. Both guys take kinda cool bumps to the floor, with Demon sprawling out after a Chavo headscissors. Also dug Chavo going for a triangle in the ropes, and Demon power bombing him off the top to get out of it. I also kind of dug the Foley effects on slaps, because they were timed right and consistent. They did effects for Demon's slaps, but also when he was clapping to get the crowd into it. Made Demon seem like a guy who just threw some big bombs. I thought the effects were done well enough that I would be shocked if a casual viewer even noticed.

2. Sexy Star vs. Son of Havoc

PAS: I get the gimmick, and I kind of get why Sexy Star is going to have to work her way up to a win so I didn't have a problem with her losing. But man having her squashed in 90 seconds by a dude who looks like a 6:05 TBS jobber they would bring out for Manny Fernandez to potato,  puts a damper on the whole thing. Also probably a mistake to name your feminist hero Sexy Star, lots of names are getting changed in this fed, no reason to keep that one.

ER: They really are pushing her as an abused woman out for revenge. "She trains for every girl who no longer needs to be afraid" kind of stuff. Robert Rodriguez is about as big of a cult movie fan as you can get. You'd think with his involvement her character especially would be one that he would focus on. He HAS to be a fan of the movie Ms. 45. They're already pushing the abused woman strikes back angle, they might as well go full tilt with the thing. But my god it is unfathomable to have her lose in 90 seconds in her very first match in the promotion. Son of Havoc is M-Dogg 20, under a mask and leather vest and with an awesome gigantic beard making him look like a SAMCRO prospect who doesn't make it out of his second episode. He's a good opponent for Sexy Star as he really whips around on her headscissors and leaps into her cross bodies. But good lord there is no way he's going to be a pushed guy in the fed. If you didn't want her to beat a guy who will be appearing in the fed regularly, why not just bring in a one and done jobber for her to beat? Are they actively trying to appeal to the next generation of guys whose fathers wanted Bobby Riggs to shut Billie Jean King's bitch mouth? Just completely incomprehensible booking.

3. Prince Puma vs. Johnny Mundo

PAS: This isn't the kind of wrestling I eagerly seek out, but for a juniors spotfest, it was a fun juniors spotfest and definitely was a representative of the style they are looking to do. I actually thought Puma held back a little bit, I have seen him do crazier shit for much smaller audiences, and I am surprised he didn't empty his bag of tricks. I like Konan as the grizzled veteran trainer, he seems too crippled to actually get in the ring again, so I have no beef with him as a mouthpiece.

ER: This was a plenty fun spotfest although yeah I agree with Phil as Ricochet didn't come close to breaking out some of the coolest stuff he could do. You could tell Mundo (the former John Morrison) was breaking out every single trick he's ever used. Mundo takes a fantastic bump of an enziguiri, basically doing a Hamrick bump to the floor as he somersaults through the ropes. Awesome. Puma tries to outdo him by getting crazy height from getting slingshotted into the post. Puma does a back handspring into a flipping dropkick and Matt Striker compares the style to World of Sport. Striker comes off like a guy who has a lot of references, and wants to use those references even if they don't actually apply to what's happening. He later hypes up a giant "THIS! IS! LUCHA! UNDERGROUND!! after Puma does a dive feint by hand springing off the ropes. Probably could have saved that for an actual big dive. Duane Kuiper didn't scream loudly when Barry Bonds lazily flied out to right. Still after about the first 6 minutes of doing a bunch of go nowhere parity stuff we get a bunch of big spots. They were kind of pushing Puma as the main guy here but Mundo was really the one getting all the spots to shine. Still, plenty of fun stuff, and this is definitely the kind of match they need to be doing to set them apart.

PAS: Finishing angle wasn't much, I think they should have had Dario's gameplan a little more ambiguous for a couple of weeks. Let him wander around holding the briefcase and menacingly sipping scotch before he broke out his own stable of dudes.

ER: Yeah it was a bit disappointing to already show Dario is withholding the money briefcase. And also disappointing that he was choosing his own stable and filled it with Ricky Reyes and Lil Cholo. Big Zeke looked mammoth and I dug plenty of his matches on Superstars several years ago, be nice to see him shine again.

PAS: Overall I enjoyed this, and I am really looking forward to them bringing in dudes like Pimpinela and Mesias who I really like

ER: I still had a good time watching this. One episode in and it already looked clearly better than something like TNA. It had its own style and presentation, clearly trying to present itself as something different instead of a cheap knockoff. I'm definitely interested in watching more.


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MLJ: Rush vs Negro Casas 20: La Máscara, La Sombra, Rush vs Mr. Niebla, Negro Casas, Volador Jr. in a relevos increíbles match

Aired 2014-08-02
taped 2014-07-25 @ Arena México
La Máscara, La Sombra, Rush vs Mr. Niebla, Negro Casas, Volador Jr. in a relevos increíbles match

You know what's not very "increíble?" A match where Los Ingobernales team up against two members of La Peste Negra, acting as de facto babyfaces, and Volador. That said, this was equivilent of a "go home" show before Juicio Final, so it was at least heated and well executed. The best part might have been the new Ingobernales team shirts, with logos on the front (a bull, an arms out pose, and a mask symbol) and the names on the back. On the flip side, Volador's half Spider-Man/Half Venom mask/gear was ridiculous. I swear there was one point that instead of helping his partners fight off their opponents, he spent a minute trying to get his gear just right.

There wasn't a lot we haven't seen here before. This was a way to put over Casas and company in two falls, the first being by DQ to keep Los Ingobernales' heat, to whet appetites for Rush vs Casas one more time, and give Volador and Casas a bit of shine and momentum going into their respective matches against Sombra and Rush at Juicio Final.

So, with this match not being the place for innovation or inversion, what was the best we could hope for? The same as usual, really. A great beatdown, a heated comeback, and a spirited, meaningful final stretch. When looked at that way, this match didn't disappoint much. The beatdown was solid. It started with the usual brawling on the rampway. Highlights included Sombra being an absolute dick including doing a cross armed pose before hitting a missile droplick on a held Volador and a sort of sloppy Mascara superkick right into a Sombra German on Niebla. There was a comeback tease after too much Ingobernales taunting, but it ended with Niebla propelling Volador out with a huge moonsault only to get double dropkicked leaving Rush outnumbered. They did the rope-assisted submission DQ again, only this time with Mascara putting on a sort of rough tarantula and Rush pushing the ref down before hitting a huge constrained dropkick while Casas was trapped.

I like this structure best when we get that comeback tease before the DQ. On the one hand, when it doesn't happen, you get a really extended beatdown, but there's so little in the way of hope spots in lucha that it's refreshing to see a comeback attempt before the ultimate cut off and DQ. Here it worked fine and they used a callback for the actual comeback, with Volador cutting off a second missile dropkick by Sombra and Casas and Niebla rush in. Casas hit Rush with a corner low dropkick and then his bit leaping seated senton from the apron. This left Sombra and Volador as the final focus which included this great little whip powerslam throw thing by Sombra but ultimately ended with a really goofy Volador rolling DDT out of being trapped in a fireman's carry for the pin.

There were matches I've seen that made me want to see a Volador vs Sombra singles match more than this one. I'm definitely ready for the hair match though. I'm not sure the week to week build led to necessarily more intensity for Rush vs Casas, though some of that was me looking at multiple arenas. Some of it was the inclusion of guys like Felino and Niebla though, who, by their nature, suck the intensity out of things. In some matches that led to a good counterbalance and made Rush vs Casas stand out more. In others, it was just a heat sink. This one was more straightforward, with Niebla mostly behaving, but I'm ready to move on. You can definitely have more than enough of a good thing.

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

2014 Ongoing Match of the Year List

44. Negro Casas, Puma & Tiger vs. Guerrero Maya Jr., Atlantis & Delta CMLL 1/26

ER: It's amazing how refreshing a match like this can be when compared opposite Arena Mexico main events. I've been watching Casas get his butt handed to him for months by Rush, and here we jump back to the beginning of the year and Casas is an awesome stooging heel, tripping over himself as he runs from Atlantis, hiding behind moms, taking pratfalls down the aisles while his nephews jump in to protect him. The bulk of the match is taken by the nephews opposite Delta and Maya, and every time Casas gets in opposite Atlantis he either bails or runs directly into a quebradora. Puma and Tiger look really good in this, they've really jumped out to me this year and wrestle like a couple of vets. They really know how to work rudo and bring more to a match than "athletic guys working athletically" which while it can be fun, really seems like 70% of CMLL matches are worked in that style and it can make things forgettable fast. Puma and Tiger both helped carry the psych of the match. Delta can be silly sometimes (and is here) but also throws out a neat headscissors to the floor and an awesome tandem dive with Maya past the turnbuckles. Maya is a favorite of mine and I love seeing him with a big role in a match like this. And we all do this to build to the Casas/Atlantis moments which are a blast. I just said a week ago that Casas might be the best current sympathetic babyface in wrestling, well it turns out he might concurrently be the best chicken shit heel in wrestling. He puts on a clinic here and it's funny to see him punt Atlantis in the balls considering what the fate of his own balls has been lately. Post match we get Casas riling up the crowd with Atlantis' mask and this was all a bunch of fun.

PAS: I really dug watching Casas go back to his roots as a sniveling heel. He is great in his current roll, but this is where he is a master. Atlantis is great too, and this is the kind of match that he and Casas have probably done a thousand times, and I could watch a thousand more. I thought all the young guys in this were fine, but this was all about the maestros being maestros.


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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

MLJ: Rush vs Negro Casas 19: Máximo, Rush, Super Porky vs Felino, Mr. Niebla, Negro Casas

Aired 2014-08-03
taped 2014-07-21 @ Arena Puebla
Máximo, Rush, Super Porky vs Felino, Mr. Niebla, Negro Casas

Closing in on the hair match now. There's just this, one more trios match to increase the tension, and the match itself. This was pretty disposable but ultimately entertaining, with a non-descript primera and segunda, and a pretty good tercera, though ultimately hampered by Rush using the dropkick out of the corner comeback again, which I suppose he thought he could get away with because he was at Puebla.

Porky was the most immobile I've ever seen him (it's been a few months), but he still got an amazing reaction. The crowd wasn't behind La Peste Negra at all in this, much to Niebla's chagrin. They were just chanting away for Porky and the biggest pop of the match, one full of laughs, was when he splashed (see: fell upon) Niebla on the ramp after the segunda's comeback. Number two would probably be a comedy spot with Maximo where both of them did vertical butt drops on Felino/Niebla.

Maximo was pretty great in this though. I think he's great in most things, but he stood out here certainly. The idea was that he was deathly afraid of Niebla (for good reason as Niebla really beat him around the ring, including taking his glove off and whacking him in the face with it once), but not so for Felino. My favorite spot in the match came in the tercera: after a heated Rush vs NC (more on this in a moment) exchange ended with Felino running in to cut off Rush, he chopped him back to the tecnico corner. At that point Rush egged him on to chop him again, only to duck so he hit Maximo on the apron instead. Maximo came in pissed, and then started to do about two minutes of over the top sthick with Felino begging off only for Niebla to come in which made Felino run the other way. It was all funny stuff, and at the end, Maximo would find his courage, get Niebla out of the ring, and hit a dive on Felino to clear the ring for Rush and Casas.

Which, of course, brings us back to Rush and Casas. Unsurprisingly, they beat the hell out of each other here. Past the transition dropkick out of the corner to start the comeback by Rush, it still felt pretty fresh. They used the Puebla barricade as a weapon (or a target for someone's head at least). There were multiple beatdowns in the corner, though every time Rush got a clear advantage, the rudos would swarm him, which was sort of refreshing. I think they were very much ready and primed for the hair match by this point and it showed. The match ended with Porky and Maximo getting control of Felino and Niebla, but after a brushed off Casita, Rush getting frustrated and fouling Casas for the DQ. Post match, Porky seemed to be challenging Felino and they all brawled some more. I wanted to see more disappointment out of Porky and Maximo for Rush costing them the match. Ah well.

Fun, disposable Puebla match, where the comedy felt well balanced with the heated Rush vs Negro Casas exchanges. I still think Maximo is highly underrated but that might just be a side effect of me not seeing enough exoticos.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

2014 Ongoing Match of the Year List

24. Marcela/Princesa Sujei v. Princesa Blanca/La Seductora CMLL 8/1

ER: Sujei and Seductora are putting up their masks, and Marcela and Blanca are putting up their hair! Again, I actually didn't realize this match happened before watching it, and it was extra exciting going into it not knowing who was going to win. Blanca has probably the longest hair of any gal in CMLL, and Sujei and Seductora have had their masks longer than any CMLL gal I can think of. So in my brain there is a lot at stake here, and I think they more than delivered. Marcela is probably the best luchadora in the fed, and her and Sujei make a great team here. Both take some big bumps (Marcela missing a somersault senton off the apron to the floor, Sujei crashing and burning after getting kicked off the ropes onto the apron and also earlier launching herself spectacularly into the front row), and Blanca and Seductora really work like bitches. Seductora was always dropkicking and stomping throats, and Blanca genuinely felt like a woman who desperately did not want to lose her hair, scrambling and brawling the whole time, throwing women by the hair, or planting them with the most badass spinning powerbomb I've seen in ages. I really loved this match, a lot of it really felt like a struggle and the stakes felt real. The end potential interference was also really exciting, with Seductora getting thwarted from cheating to win, and Marcela and Sujei gratefully embracing on the mat post victory. Crowd was hot for this too, much hotter than most Arena Mexico crowds. I get it.

PAS: Yeah this was shockingly good. I loved the dropkicks in this match, they were really just smashing each other in the mouth with these nasty low kicks into the mouth. I agree with Eric about the drama, wager matches add so much excitement to what would normally be more of a run of the mill match. Every near fall really felt like a huge deal, and all four women clearly ramped up the violence and the bumping. Very good stuff.


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Monday, October 27, 2014

MLJ: Virus Interlude: Virus vs Cachorro (Lightning)

Aired 2014-10-21
Taped 2014-10-21
Virus vs Cachorro (Lightning)

I really do want to take an extended view at Virus at some point, going back to his minis work. Now's not that point though. This dropped on the 21st, posted onto the internet by CMLL and I figured since I rarely do anything THIS up to date and because I haven't seen much Cachorro, I'd toss in a quick Monday interlude before starting on the next thing. The only thing that brings up a lessened expectation than "lightning match" is tournament lucha, but with these two I had higher hopes. Virus had been in that crazy lightning match vs Valiente, but I figured we'd get something a little more mat based here. I wasn't disappointed.

Virus is humbling in a lot of ways. I don't think I'm much taller than him, if at all, being a fairly scrawny 5'5". It's odd to realize that you'd probably have been shoehorned into being a mini. The whole world seems a little bigger and more foreboding. On the other hand, the sheer skill and versatility that Virus has developed his hugely impressive and inspirational. He grew out of his role and into a niche all his own. Cachorro was all over the Busca de un Idolo earlier this year, and he pops up on the master MOTY list a few times, including the Cavernario/Dragon Lee Jr./Negro Casas v. Virus/Hechicero/Cachorro match I'll get to at some point. He's Blue Panther's son, of course, and Virus helped to train him, which makes this match interesting.

This was paced very well for a lightning match. Usually, you'll see guys just throw a lot of stuff out there without much selling or purpose. This wasn't that at all. The first half of the match, or so, was Virus getting the better of Cachorro on the mat. They'd move from one hold to a counter and then out, with Cachorro looking great just because he could escape, but then acutely selling whatever he'd just been in, which got over the holds, Virus for putting them on, and Cachorro for escaping. There were little leg and arm picks and openings snatched but it always felt competitive.

Towards the middle they started to work in a few nearfalls and a bit of sequence. It all paid off with Cachorro reversing a hold into a stretch muffler and then knocking Virus out so he could hit a tope suicida. After that, they went on towards the finishing stretch, with Virus hitting an armdrag on the way back in to regain advantage and Cachorro appealing to the crowd and working from beneath for a little bit. He made a solid little comeback, highlighted by a roll through of Virus, leaving him in a sitting position so he could hit a quick second rope move on him, followed immediately thereafter by the cut off, which let Virus hit a nice looking revenge spot off the ropes. Finally, Virus went along with an arm drag attempt, which is a great spot more people should steal, and, catching Cachorro off guard, locked in some sort of crazy pretzel submission for the win. They shook hands after the match.

So far as lightning matches go, you might get one with more crazy spots or maybe that was more focused on a specific story element, but for something with a mat-based build and escalation, this was one of the best I've seen (which might not be saying THAT much), especially in the pacing. Cachorro had some moments of near-awkwardness when he was trying some of his more athletic spots, but all in all, he did a great job hanging in there. The sheer versatility of Virus is sort of amazing. It's crazy that he was able to perform so differently in something like the 2009 Valiente lightning match and then do this. He really is one hell of a talent and I'll have to see much more of him at some point.

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

WWE Hell in a Cell 2014 Live Blog

We are giving this another shot. Phil will be in for sure. Eric is a maybe

Dolph Ziggler v. Cesaro

One of the better Ziggler matches I have seen, Cesaro clearly is the PPV show stealer at this point. It got a little counter movey for me, but there was a bunch of pretty great counters. I liked all of the early matwork and all of the work out of the choke which ended up with Cesaro lifting Ziggler into the superplex was great. Cesaro seems to work in a new cool strength spot in every match. I do like them mixing it up with Ziggler winning 2 straight falls, although I think Cesaro needs to win one of these matches one of these days.

Nikki Bella v. Brie Bella

Not exactly professional looking stuff, but I have to give it to them, if it is going to look awkward you might as well make it violent. There was a knee which looked like it broke a Bella nose and another running knee which looked gross. Kept it moving and didn't drag. Gets the full worldwide point.

Stardust/Goldust v. Usos

Have to love we are getting a long Dustin Rhodes PPV match every month in 2014. I loved Dustin in this, he is really nasty when he is on offense, and a great heel in peril. Loved his spinebuster and that crazy face first over the top bump, also liked the finish, felt like a nifty way to steal a victory, with the kick to the knee.

John Cena v. Randy Orton

I have to give these guys some credit, I had no interest in this match up, but ended up enjoying it OK. I really liked both Orton RKO counters, the one out of the shoulder block was a cool way of mixing up a stale set of spots. We knew this was going to have a ton of kick outs, but they at least tried some different stuff. I really think they need to mix up the standard WWE brawling staples of chairs and tables, I hope Ambrose and Rollins bring some different stuff.

Miz v. Sheamus

I think I am in a good mood, as I enjoyed this too. The Mizdow stuff is fun comedy, while still existing within the world of wrestling rules. Has Miz always worked this stiff, his kicks were pretty nasty looking and the elbows in the corner after the clothesline was actually violent looking. Everything on this show so far has been pretty good.

Big Show v. Rusev

I liked this a bunch too. Rusev had some cool spots, the suplex was really impressive looking. I also really liked the finish with Rusev chopping down the Big Show with superkicks like an axe felling an oak. Big Show is awesome, I prefer heel Andre to heel Big Show, but face Big Show is the best babyface giant ever. Also happy they didn't do a hack Mark Henry turn.

AJ Lee v. Paige

That bump on the barricade was pretty nasty, but the rest of this match looked pretty awkward. This was the first bad thing on the show

Seth Rollins v. Dean Ambrose

Man that is two PPV's in a row with really dogshit endings to otherwise good matches. I liked Rollins and Ambrose as sort of a bloodless CZW Cage of Death. Rollins took a huge beating, and the double cage falls kind of built this up as a big deal, but man what a deflating way to end this feud. I really hate when they try to set up the next show by taking all of the steam out of the show you are watching. I imagine Ambrose v. Wyatt family will be fine, but just run the angle after the match is over.

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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Uprising: Lucha Libre Workrate Report 10/18/14

This week's show has a match where I'm not actually sure where it's from. John and Demon have worked a few cage matches, so the best I can say is that this match happened from 2009-2012. I think the two of them had a cage match in Mexico City at one point and I really would have liked to see that  as I've never actually seen John working in front of an actual Mexican crowd. I've seen a couple shows he worked where the audience was 80+% hispanic, but not a Mexican crowd. I'd want to see if he would work his usual pre-match race-baiting schtick (I saw him embarrassingly call the crowd "wetbacks" at an SF show) although it would have been infinitely more entertaining to see what would happen to him if he did that in Mexico City. Here (wherever this is) he just does some colorless  "I'm the REAL champion" stuff you've heard before.

1. Oliver John vs. Blue Demon Jr. (CAGE MATCH)

Match starts and I quickly find out it's escape rules, which is normally less exciting. Cage matches are almost always better when people use the cage as a means to violence, not as a climbing contest (and there's also a door, meaning we get a lot of "guy holding onto other guy's ankle" spots). John worked really hard here and it was easily one of his best showings that I've seen (especially in these Demon matches). He tried his best to play into Demon's strengths, which was more difficult in this match as Demon really didn't show up to do much. John's entire role was to basically make Demon look superhuman, and to make it appear like Demon was in danger even though Demon planned on taking no bumps. So John bumped all around for Demon's big strikes, flying into the cage from big chops and elbows and took some mammoth bumps off the top on failed escape attempts. The best one was Hamrick-esque, as John was tossed off the top crotch first on the top rope, and then messily bounced from there into a second bump. It looked dangerous, and awesome.

Now as for Demon, he bled. And that counts for a lot, because Demon bled a lot. He didn't bump, and he made John do a lot of the heavy lifting, but he bled. Bloody mask eyeholes is one of the coolest lucha visuals, and this delivered. There were also a bunch of cool shots of big drops of blood all over the mat where John was pounding him, so big hats off the PWR camera crew on those. The non-bumps were a little ridiculous. Demon would get caught on an escape attempt, and John would grab him to deliver a backdrop suplex, and every time Demon would reverse so he wouldn't have to bump off the top. John would grab him, there would be a false struggle, Demon would kick him off or something to send John flying, and then Demon would just hop off the top rope back to the mat (which is odd as you think he would just go back to trying to escape). After the third time it became pretty clear Demon was actively avoiding taking bumps (which is weird that they kept going to the spot). The worst was one time he teased doing a move off the top to a prone John, but then just ended up hopping down to the mat and doing a normal standing elbow drop. Teasing a big spot and then purposely not delivering seems like another item on Demon's list of "rudo acts performed by a tecnico". John eventually won when there was interference and a weird swerve with Vaquero Fantasma turning on Demon and hitting him with a chair, allowing John to slither over Demon out the door to the floor. Since John only won one of their cage matches, that means this was from the 2/27/10 King City show.

So overall, even with Demon's refusal to do a lot, I liked the match. John had a heckuva performance and Demon did hit a gusher which is a pretty special thing to see in wrestling these days so was effective here.

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Friday, October 24, 2014

MLJ: Rush vs Negro Casas 18: Negro Casas & Shocker vs La Sombra & Rush

Aired 2014-07-26
taped 2014-07-18 @ Arena México
Negro Casas & Shocker © vs La Sombra & Rush for the CMLL World Tag Team Championship

This was the rematch, of sorts, from Shocker and Casas winning the titles (just with Sombra subbed in for Mascara). As recounted earlier, I liked the primera of that match a lot, because I felt like it really hammered home Mascara and Rush spitting upon the traditions of the title match to get heat, but that the ultimate payoff within the match itself just wasn't good enough. Eric hit this match a week or two ago and liked it far more than the first. I thought it was good enough that it just might be my CMLL MOTY.

Mascara wasn't at ringside so Sombra and Rush did their own introductions without him. Shocker had an awesome jacket but came out separately from Negro Casas. Structurally, this was B-A-C again, with Los Ingobernales taking over much as they did in the last match, swarming after a bit of chain wrestling to tease the title match norms. It had less of a dramatic effect since we already saw it before. They took the primera with a beatdown, ate a comeback in the segunda, and reset for the tercera. The tercera, however, wasn't straightforward at all, with a lot of ebbs and flows and callbacks to moves from earlier in the match. It felt a lot more like a title match tercera, with a lot of saves and some deep cumulative selling.

Having Sombra in the match instead of Mascara made a big difference. Sombra brought both more offense and character work to the table. His knee in the corner finish is dynamic as hell. He's also a bit more willing to sell than his partners, especially at key moments. Rush can be too quick to pop up after a German Suplex to hit his stuff for instance, but Sombra will stay down for the good of the match. He also knows exactly when to kick out the dickish reclining pose, doing it at the end of the primera while Rush was pinning Casas and again later on in the ropes, which had a great pay off of Shocker going over and kicking him. Rush's character is very in your face but I like the passive aggressiveness of Sombra (like when he hangs out in the crowd after a loss).

There was a plenty of payoff to be had in the match. Rush refused to hit the corner dropkick during the primera, dickishly teasing it for later. Casas finished the segunda with a STF and then they went back to it a couple of times later on. There wasn't a dive until the tercera and that was a tope from Shocker to set up a Rush vs NC showdown. The Casita was teased a few times until it happened at the end (after Sombra tried one). Casas had his apron senton cut off once until he was able to hit it. It was one of those matches where they just paid attention to everything and showed what lucha can do when they're really, really trying hard. The comeback in the segunda was just satisfying enough, a reverse whip on the floor that sent Sombra over the barricade and Casas getting the advantage on Rush in the ring. It was just enough because Rush and Sombra would have the advantage off and on in the tercera, so there were other mini comebacks layered in, the best of which being Shocker, Rush and Sombra doing the stunner/low dropkick attempt/heel miscommunication spot twice in a row.

In general, I lean more towards apuestas or just general trios matches. I like the anticipation and the payoff, and title matches tend to have a lot of back and forth both early on and late and, these days, a lot of laying around in the tercera without that laying around necessarily being earned. Here, though, they replaced that with a lot of pins and submissions being broken up and the match was definitely both heated and competitive with selling in the tercera that felt completely earned and a great finishing stretch; after Casas hit his apron dive on Sombra, Rush was left with Shocker, who went for his tie-up finish, but ended up eating the double arm piledriver for three. Casas came back in and they fought on the top rope until Casas headbutted him off, hit a missile dropkick, and then locked in the Casita for three. Finally it was Casas and Sombra, who hit a big powerslam. When he went for his ridiculous double jump moonsault, however, Casas actually made it work for once, rolling to force the second jump and then getting his knees up. A brief fight over the Casita later and the champs retained. It was great punctuation to a match which stood out as four guys who really knew what they were doing and weren't afraid to shoot for complexity and a very complete match. Well worth watching.

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Lucha Azteca Workrate Report 9/6/14

Again, on 8/15/14 (and, now sadly, 8/22/14) it looks like they did a tournament for the CMLL Universal championship. Tournament lucha, baby! Catch that 150 second action!! So we all know these matches will be, best case scenario, the 2nd or 3rd best match on an episode of Worldwide, so I'm not really going to review the matches themselves because why bother. I'll make some notes of standout individual performance. The one positive I can take from this is that we might get some unique match-ups, however brief. It looks like there are a lot of rudos in the tourney so we may get some fun rudo on rudo shenanigans.

^^^ That is what I wrote during the first week of lucha tourney. It was worse than I expected. I expected bad. There was one total match that was not a complete waste of time. I'm willingly going into this expecting to waste my time. And I'm complaining about it. That is the definition of an obnoxious person right there.

1. Ultimo Guerrero vs. Mr. Niebla

Fun mat stuff and headscissor roll throughs that were indeed fun, but always felt very exhibition-y. Niebla broke out his cool code red arm drag, UG threw in the Jerry bump, Niebla did the wild moonsault off the top to the floor and another big moonsault press back in the ring. Niebla is throwing in more cool stuff in his 3 minute allotment than anybody else in this tourney. And it's nice as it actually ties into and leads to the finish, with him going for a 3rd moonsault, allowing UG to polish him off with the Guerrero Special for the win. So that was a good use of the time right there.

2. Virus vs. Dragon Rojo Jr.

Rojo comes out to the theme from Ghostbusters which is kinda weird. It's nice to see Virus in a match like this as he doesn't usually seem to crack the main event picture in CMLL, and at least being in a tournament for a title is something above his usual level. At this rate he might make it into the main event scene when he's 52. Virus works this match real smart, for such an awful format. He's a guy who's really good at mixing up rope running stuff, and is such a different worker than a lot of these guys that you get some unique exchanges. He finds a cool way to reverse Rojo's big seated corner dropkick, by pushing up at the right time to send Rojo's legs under, then locking on a front facelock. Great false finish as Rojo looked taken off guard but was already in the ropes. You got the sense that it could have finished the match otherwise. Finish was smart as it played into the match long story of Virus trying to win using his submission smarts, and it costing him. Virus always breaks out cool subs, and the one that backfired involved him rolling through on his opponent, but Rojo being much larger than Virus, causing him to roll through to far (like over rolling him), ending with Rojo on top and submitting Virus. It even makes sense in the worked setting as Virus usually works guys that are closer to his size, so him locking on a sub incorrectly against a larger guy works for me. Still wish Virus could have gone through to at least the semis.

3. Diamante Azul vs. Niebla Roja

This match was at least a good use of two minutes, though I kind of felt bad for Roja as this was a total Azul showcase. Azul looked really good on the mat with a couple cool ankle picks and looked real good at fluidly moving on to other parts of the body. Really smooth chain wrestling done in a way that didn't feel overly rehearsed. He also hits a big dive (first dive of the whole tournament actually) and then gets to roll back in and hit his awesome delayed german to win. They even put over his finisher by having a doctor come in and check on Roja after the match. Roja got totally steamrolled here, but Azul looked sharp in his showcase.

4. Titan vs. Volador Jr.

Not great, but short and they kept the back spring handstand nonsense to one part of the match. Titan hits a big moonsault and gets a nice false finish by catching Volador in a dragon screw into a sub. Volador's samoa drop driver finisher always looks completely dangerous, like it's just a matter of time before somebody gets their neck snapped.

5. Ultimo Guerrero vs. Dragon Rojo Jr.

Partners collide! But it really wasn't that exciting. Both guys doing moves until it was time for the Guerrero Special. Rojo took a nice bump to the floor off UG's baseball slide, and Rojo's dropkick off the rampway is a truly awesome and incredibly stupid move. Basically just a giant running back bump onto the floor, totally nuts.

6. Diamante Azul vs. Volador Jr.

Super short, very Volador heavy. Azul hit his nice rampway senton. I somehow got bored even though it was 2 minutes.

7. Ultimo Guerrero vs. Volador Jr.

Of course this one gets the most time of the tournament, and since Volador is losing then we get to see tons of goofy ass Volador stuff. None of this was very good. It did have one completely awesome moment though, with UG catching Volador on a flip dive to the floor and power bombing him into the ring post. That looked amazing. But Volador was back in the ring flipping around like a dungus just a few moments later. Match also had a really weird moment where Volador went for a roll up after a superkick, and UG kicked out, and then both of them sat upright on the mat for almost 20 seconds afterwards, just sitting there right next to each other, both staring out at the same direction (but not at each other), not selling or hitting each other or doing anything. Just sitting there. This happened really early in the match too. It was really strange. We'll edit it in post, boys!


Tournament Lucha: Still the Worst

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

MLJ: Rush vs Negro Casas 17: Marco Corleone, Máximo, Rush vs Cavernario, Negro Casas, Último Guerrero

Aired: 2014-07-20
taped 2014-07-11 @ Arena México
Marco Corleone, Máximo, Rush vs Cavernario, Negro Casas, Último Guerrero

First off, a plug. Elliott is doing some really great work over at PWO examining Satanico (both late career and 90s), in light of the GOAT project going on there. It's worth checking out and while I'll probably not review them here, there are a lot of links to matches I haven't seen but really want to. Alright, back to Rush vs Casas. We're closing in now, which is probably a good thing as Eric and Phil just posted their MOTYC review of the hair match. I'll be able to add my views when we hit the end in a week or two. Then, since Eric is doing such a good job burning through the weekly TV, I'm going to hop back to 2010 and take a look at some CMLL from there (and also, no one wants to see me review another 200 Atlantis vs Ultimo Guerrero matches or however many it'd take to make it to the Mask match). To stay at least somewhat relevant, though, I'm going to use the Monday slot to focus on Barbaro Cavernario, who's one of the bigger stories of the year.

Which is a topical thought here, as he's on the rudo side for this trios match. I don't know how many times he'd been in a match this high up on the card at Arena Mexico but this was second to last, with only a Sombra vs Shocker singles match to set up a tag title rematch after it. He was teamed with Casas and Ultimo Guerrero too, so this was a great spot for him. Weirdly enough, Rush, Maximo, and Marco came out announced as El Bufete Del Amor, which seems fairly bizarre considering Rush's Ingobernales affiliation. In general, the match was sort of worked like a revelos increibles match, with Rush the rudo with the tecnicos and Casas the tecnico with the rudos.

Structurally, it was a pretty standard B-A-C sort of match. Rush ran out to attack Casas but UG followed right behind him and they were able to get in just enough of an ambush to hold the advantage for a (not particularly heated) beatdown which ended with a Casas corner clothesline on Rush, a big hanging UG suplex on Marco, and UG whipping Maximo into a top rope Cavernario dropkick. During the fall, Casas deposited rush over the barricade with a clothesline. The comeback came, as we've seen many times before now, with Rush hitting a dropkick out of the corner as Casas was whipped towards him. After a bit of revenge brawling, Marco hit Air Italia from the ramp for the fall. They reset for the pairings (Maximo-Cavernario, UG-Marco, Rush-NC) after this and ultimately, Rush stole the win.

The real story here was first the character work and second, the bullshit ending, which as far as bullshit endings go, was pretty bullshit, and I think a huge mark against Rush at a time where he's probably in Wrestler of the Year contention. First off, the character work. It was great. These guys are all pros. UG matches off very well against Marco as he's a guy who's over enough and established enough that he's very willing to eat comedy spots for the good of the match. I'm curious if he still feels the same way now that his mask is gone. Even better was Maximo and Cavernario, as the latter kept trying to kiss the former. Maximo being afraid of his opponent is probably my favorite version of Maximo, as I loved it in all of his match-ups against Terrible and it's even better here as Cavernario just dove right into the crazed caveman character and Maximo dove away from him at every point, until he finally eats a fall in the tercera after trying the kiss of death on UG, only to have Cavernario spin him around and hit him with it, followed by that fall back chinlock submission of his. Rush and Casas were Rush and Casas full of fire and aggression, as good as ever here. I could watch ten more matches with these six.

That said, the finish was highly frustrating. It had come down to Casas vs Rush, with Casas finally getting the advantage on the apron, hitting the apron DDT and following it with his seated senton off the apron. So far, so good. It was a really nice exchange up until that point and well punctuated. After that, though, Rush committed one of the worst cardinal sins imaginable. Casas positioned him on the floor as Cavernario ascended the ropes. He came off hard with a giant splash from the top to the floor, the sort of thing that if done too many times (read: at all) could shorten a career. I remember seeing a trios with Hijo del Santo and Psicosis where Santo ate a senton from the top to the floor and was stretchered out to huge heat. It was still a crazy and dangerous spot, a foolish spot, but it was one that meant something and probably led to money drawn. Here? Casas lifted Rush up and rolled him into the ring, following him in. Literally the next second, as if nothing had happened to him at all, Rush ambushed Casas on the way in, power bombed him, and put his hand on the rope for leverage to get the three. Afterwards he celebrated his victory. It was insane. I give Rush credit for how well he fights back in a three-on-one swarming, while still making sure to ultimately lose the exchange, because that makes him look strong and makes the beatdown more vibrant. All this did was ruin the match; it's something he does do now and again, a blatant no-sell, be it of a German Suplex from Shocker or this Splash, in order to get to the next spot or in this case, to get to the Finish, and it's by far, the weakest and most frustrating thing he does, and I do think it hurts his case in 2014 when putting him up against the very best of the best around the world. So, while this was a good, fun, match with more traditional rudo and tecnico roles, the ending really ended up hurting it.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Lucha Azteca Workrate Report 8/30/14

So on 8/15/14 (and, sadly, 8/22/14) it looks like they did a tournament for the CMLL Universal championship. Tournament lucha, baby! Catch that 150 second action!! So we all know these matches will be, best case scenario, the 2nd or 3rd best match on an episode of Worldwide, so I'm not really going to review the matches themselves because why bother. I'll make some notes of standout individual performance. The one positive I can take from this is that we might get some unique match-ups, however brief. It looks like there are a lot of rudos in the tourney so we may get some fun rudo on rudo shenanigans.

1. Terrible vs. Euforia

Terrible and Euforia already start the tourney off with a classic tournament lucha staple: selling like you're in the fight of your life after the first move of the match. Euforia hits a clothesline and gets a two count, and both men linger on the mat, breathing heavily, before valiantly fighting to their feet 20 seconds into the match. Fuck you, tournament lucha. Strike exchanges, sunset flips, no drama, I've clearly made a horrible choice.

2. Felino vs. Shocker

Felino is wearing some spectacular tassel tights (tassels down the legs and around the cuffs) so this is already an early match of the night contender. Felino tries here more than usual, hitting a sweet elbow off the top rope. Match ends pointlessly 2 minutes in after a Shocker sub.

3. Rey Escorpion vs. La Sombra

Now we're getting spoiled as we get almost 3 minutes of action! How horrible would it be to take a trip down to Mexico with the hopes of seeing lucha, and they run a tournament during the show you attend? Escorpion puts the boots to Sombra a bunch and Sombra lays in the running double knees in the corner. They tried to cram a decent amount of stuff into the time, but it still didn't add up to tons.

4. Negro Casas vs. Mephisto

Haven't seen Mephisto in awhile. He's wearing a Spider-man get up which is…something. We get a couple nice Mephisto powerbombs including a big one off the top rope. Casas won it with a wrenched in Crippler Crossface. Never forget.

5. Euforia vs. Shocker

Euforia mixes it up a tiny bit by attacking Shocker on the ramp. This wasn't particularly good but it had an immediacy that the other matches didn't have. The others have been worked more as "last two minutes of a really bad epic" and this one was at least guys trying to go for flash leveraged pinfalls. That at least makes more sense. Shocker's winning roll-up was really snug and looked like any man would have trouble kicking out of it. So that's something.

6. Negro Casas vs. La Sombra

Actually a fun match, not coincidentally the one that has gotten by far the most time so far. Sombra gives Casas a long beating and Casas' comeback is really good, shoving Sombra off the top to the floor and beating him into the crowd barrier. Sombra always flies nicely into a barrier. Also I really dig Casas' dragon screw knee breaker he's been using lately. Looks cool. Finish is kind of weird as Sombra wins with a nut shot schoolboy, with poor Casas' balls taking another beating. But what was weird is that it just looked like a normal schoolboy. I rewound it and didn't see an actual ball shot. Casas may just be dealing with some residual ball aches.

7. La Sombra vs. Shocker

Pretty nondescript match although I like how they're transitioning Sombra's running double knees into a death blow. Also kind of surprising that none of the tourney matches built to a dive of any sort. I was expecting to see a dive exchange in the semi at least. I don't need dives to enjoy my lucha, but it just seemed odd not seeing any.

8. Ultimo Guerrero, Niebla Roja & Gran Guerrero vs. Atlantis, Marco Corleone & Diamante Azul

Pretty paint by numbers, but with a fun tercera. First falls were really quick, with about the only notable thing being UG holding up Marco for a long time on an impressive vertical suplex. Tercera had several fun moments with the Diamante Azul/Gran Guerrero exchanges standing out the most (which was not what I was expecting going in). They did a bunch of cool standing exchanges, Azul threw a high bridge german suplex, fun stuff. Roja and Marco were odd bedfellows who didn't really work great together, but tried. They tried a goofy spot where Roja used Marco's abs to mime dialing a telephone, answered the phone, then handed the phone to Marco before hitting him. Har har guys, but kind of gave me a little nightmare flash forward of lucha becoming wildly obsessed with Chuck Taylor indie goofball dogshit. We've already seen the back cracker become the scourge of the lucha finisher world, now I'm picturing a nightmare hellscape where luchadors come up with shitty move names like "Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto" or "Avoid the Noid".

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Monday, October 20, 2014

MLJ: Hijo del Santo vs Blue Panther 15(Final): 2004 in the UK, Part 2

2004-10-8 - Arts Exhibition "Arena Mexico"
University of Essex, UK
Hijo del Santo vs Blue Panther (One Fall)

It's hard to believe that this match was just two days later from the earlier one. It's in front of a similar crowd, worked to one fall, and goes even longer than the first one, but it's world's better. This is the last Santo vs Panther match I have for this series and in a lot of ways it's a great one to go out on. It's not perfect, but it was two masters of their craft bouncing back from an awkward (if well-received) situation a few nights before and really showing the audience what they could do.

Even though Panther received his share of cheers when he came out, and spotted Blue Panther chants throughout the match, this time he knew he was the rudo from the first moment. There was a sense of scrambling in the earlier match but here it was all very focused. The match was one fall but had a sense of three acts. In the first, they mat wrestled with Santo taking the advantage but Panther slipping out or getting shots in between superior strength and roughness. It ended in a natural sort of place after a 'rana and nearfall. After that, Panther really started to open up with his rudo stylings, playing heavily to the crowd but falling pery to Santo's technique and determination. This was a somewhat circular process but unlike the first match, it built to something, escalating more and more until Santo finally had enough, and after Panther got a cheapshot in after a rope break, he began to finally fire away, which lead to a surprisingly heated third act with a number of nearfalls, some legwork, and deep fatigue selling.

So there was focus and there was escalation and there was heat, and because of these things, there was a much higher sense of stake. Past one annoying person in the crowd who would shout "rudo" every time Panther did anything less than clean, the crowd was a little more clued in here. They didn't start Santo chants whenever there was a lull in the action to amuse themselves and Panther gave one of the more dickish performances of his career, I imagine, playing to them after almost every move he hit. I think that's been one of my favorite things about seeing him so much in this. He was far more multifaceted than he gets credit for. Yes, he played the technical role in a lot of those classic trios, but that's because Fuerza or Psicosis or Espanto/Pentagon were there. Now we mainly see him as the old man tecnico. When it was his role to play, however, he had this blunt sort of deluded rudo charisma that was very fun, especially when it was coupled with the technical skill.

There was quite a bit of technical skill on the table here too. The holds were more elaborate than in the first match and the jockeying for position during the ins and outs of them were great. This is a fancam from a few rows back so the views are limited but the little strikes they used to soften each other to escape holds or to set them up were plentiful and meaningful, as was attempts to grab a hand or foot or anything else. It was all competitive and all very organic and it's probably the best I've seen Santo on the mat. That might have been the nature of the relatively long match, of his opponent, or just the setting but it was thoroughly enjoyable and way more effort and detail than they needed to put into the match. There were still a couple of flubs on more complex holds but this time around, it felt more like a side effect of the struggle and not old age or sheer complexity flummoxing the wrestlers trying to work together.

This went more than thirty-five minutes on one fall, so there really is a lot to see. I wish the legwork had been a bit more meaningful in the context of the match. It would have fit better into that second act and helped lead to a clearer comeback. That's not the sort of match they were wrestling though, which is an excuse I find much easier to make here than for the one two nights before; here there was a real sense of vision from two absolute masters. If it was not the perfect match, and it wasn't, it was still great proof of just how good both of them were, the sort of proof that was sorely lacking from the match two nights before. Their first match from Monterrey was better, but there was so much to love here too.

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Lucha Azteca Workrate Report 8/23/14

These matches were from the 8/8 Arena Mexico show.

1. Rey Escorpion vs. Dragon Rojo Jr.

I've been loving the build up to this singles over the previous couple weeks, with Escorpion punching the hell out of Rojo's face and blindsiding him in trios matches. I guess I'm a pretty easy guy to please if I can get excited for a match just by seeing a guy hit another guy. But this match was a major letdown. Everything that made me excited for it during the build was completely absent from the match itself. We had a match ruined by bad quick fall formatting, and a bunch of spots - some of them very impressive - that didn't have too much rhyme or reason to them. We also had a lame and oddly out of place strike exchange. Just an uninteresting match. The first two falls are blink-and-you'll-miss-'em, so even though they have some cool matwork in them, you're already kind of set up to see what kind of match this is going to be. And sure enough, the tercera plays out like the worst kind of lightning matches, with them heatlessly taking turns showing off what neat moves they can do. Escorpion does a dive, Rojo hits a gnarly dropkick off the rampway, Rojo hits a powerbomb, whatever. The move order seems like it was drawn out of a hat, with the moves determined ahead of time. No flow, just moves. The strike exchange was hilariously bad, with it coming out of nowhere to start the tercera. Both men immediately start selling like they'd been in a WAR!! with Rojo selling a chop by staggering around like current Pacino milking a heart attack death scene. The match had two incredibly quick falls, and suddenly these guys are just using the last of their strength to throw kick combos. Which is even more hilarious since they were totally fine afterwards, fine enough to run through the depths of their offense. Just a brutally constructed match, made both guys look awful.

2. Marcela, Princesa Sujei & Goya Kong vs. Amapola, La Seductora & Zeuxis

Fun match although it would have meant a bit more if Blanca had been in it the week after losing her hair. Amapola looked good and continued to be her same under appreciated self. I love the way she flings herself into the Cassandro bump. Zeuxis looked pretty sloppy last week and her she was nasty, hitting big running kicks and a wild moonsault off the top onto Kong. Kong has great charisma and I love how excited the Arena Mexico fans get for her. Plus her apron dive can look pretty great. Sujei and Marcela didn't make a giant impression here, but considering they won a mask and a whole lot of hair the week before I think that's fair.

3. Rush, La Sombra & La Mascara vs. Negro Casas, Ultimo Guerrero & Shocker

Not a bad match but I was expecting a lot more after last week's amazing Rush/Casas showdown. Look at me, watching something with raised expectations. La Sombra has really come into his own this year, but this match was not the one to show somebody if you were trying to prove that point. He was off the whole time, flopping bad on a headscissors and over-shooting a big flip dive that sent him stumbling chest first into the ring barrier. Shocker had some nice moments opposite Mascara, with my favorite being Mascara doing a drop down and Shocker just splatting him with the biggest elbow drop. Ultimo Guerrero integrated Sombra's double flip moonsault about the best way you can, by purposely rolling out of it so that he could make Sombra hit his knees. Now Rush vs. Casas. That was about as limp dick revenge as I could have possibly imagined. It's like both guys were sore from the week before so just agreed to take it easy on the other. Casas' big revenge moment came off so bad, where Rush goes to kick him in the balls again, and Casas just kicks him first, with a glancing blow that Rush just kind of falls over from. And then Casas runs around the ring jumping up and down like he's never beaten anybody in his life. It looked so pathetic. If that was supposed to be a moment I can't imagine many ways it could have fallen harder on its face.

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Lucha Azteca Workrate Report 8/16/14

These matches were both from the big 8/1 Juicio Final show. I actually didn't even realize until this episode that there was a luchadoras mask vs. hair match on the undercard of the Rush/Casas hair match.  I saw there was a Volador/Sombra match and I just assumed they would take the opportunity to show the 300th singles match between those two, so I was very pleasantly surprised that they showed the ladies match.


Marcela & Princesa Sujei vs. Princesa Blanca & La Seductora

Sujei and Seductora are putting up their masks, and Marcela and Blanca are putting up their hair! Again, I actually didn't realize this match happened before watching it, and it was extra exciting going into it not knowing who was going to win. Blanca has probably the longest hair of any gal in CMLL, and Sujei and Seductora have had their masks longer than any CMLL gal I can think of. So in my brain there is a lot at stake here, and I think they more than delivered. Marcela is probably the best luchadora in the fed, and her and Sujei make a great team here. Both take some big bumps (Marcela missing a somersault senton off the apron to the floor, Sujei crashing and burning after getting kicked off the ropes onto the apron and also earlier launching herself spectacularly into the front row), and Blanca and Seductora really work like bitches. Seductora was always dropkicking and stomping throats, and Blanca genuinely felt like a woman who desperately did not want to lose her hair, scrambling and brawling the whole time, throwing woman by the hair, or planting them with the most badass spinning powerbomb I've seen in ages. I really loved this match, a lot of it really felt like a struggle and the stakes felt real. The end potential interference was also really exciting, with Seductora getting thwarted from cheating to win, and Marcela and Sujei gratefully embracing on the mat post victory. Crowd was hot for this too, much hotter than most Arena Mexico crowds. I get it.


Rush vs. Negro Casas

[Note: This match ended up landing at #11 on our Best of 2014 list. My review is reposted below, here's a link to Phil and my co-write up:]

Well this was awesome. Totally lived up to everything I wanted it to be. Rush comes out in a white suit with his hair tied up in a bun, so he can unfurl its majesty on the hate filled Arena Mexico crowd. And then Rush turns into an absolute hulked up bacne covered steamroller. Some matches you can see guys getting into position for parts of the match, purposely moving the match to a specific turnbuckle they need to be in to hit their mark. But here Rush just organically beats Casas' ass all over the ring. Hits a clothesline, pie faces Casas down to the mat, kicks him to the floor, kicks him on the floor, etc. Casas runs and Rush casual chases him down. Casas peppers in his comebacks when Rush gets cocky, and man does Casas blast in his own kicks. I love Casas' short low kicks to Rush's chest, and I love how every time he got his chance he really tried to make the most of that chance. Watch him desperately/shrewdly latch onto Rush's left arm during La Casita, using any ounce of leverage he can to get the pin. Rush plays a vicious game of oneupsmanship here taking what Casas dishes and bringing it back fiercely. Casas kicks him in the corner? Rush kicks him harder and then gloats to the crowd while standing on his throat. Casas hits the big Thesz press? Rush hits a lunatic dropkick off the apron, not giving a shit how hard his own body thuds onto the ground. And then there's poor Casas getting back into the ring, and Rush punting him right in the face. Casas gets a busted lip and few few brain cells taken off his hands, and the crowd goes silent. I'm not sure I've seen anything like that before. Casas still makes great comebacks and as I told Phil a few days ago, I'm not sure there's a better fired up babyface comeback in wrestling than Negro Casas. I love him going toe to toe with Rush, trying to outwit him, trying to strangle him with subs, ripping at Rush's hands. But it wasn't enough. Rush was too much. He even risks losing the match just for the opportunity to punt Casas in the balls, just because. Great, great match.

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Friday, October 17, 2014

MLJ: Rush vs Negro Casas 15 & 16: Tag Title Match and La Máscara, La Sombra, Rush vs Mr. Niebla, Negro Casas, Shocker

A link, first, as I already reviewed the next match in the series. I loved the way they worked the primera caida of it, with a few teases of it being a traditional title match before Rush and Mascara acted like total punks, and thought it was effective overall, even if the back half of the match didn't live up to the front half. Eric didn't like it nearly as much.

This was followed, then, by:

Aired 2014-07-13
taped 2014-07-04 @ Arena México
La Máscara, La Sombra, Rush vs Mr. Niebla, Negro Casas, Shocker

I've watched dozens and dozens of matches in this project, almost 80 I think. Most of them are pretty easy to break down. Lucha is not hard to figure out. It's really not. It's all about setting up a desire for something and then paying it off. That leads to pretty straightforward momentum shifts and matches that are pretty easy to follow. A-B-A. B-A-Reset-Finish. That sort of thing. Matches fit into a few different formulae because they work; they're time tested, effective, and the crowds eats them up, as they well should. They're also a little limiting. Every now and again you get a match like this, a war, and while it's a bit of a mess, it's a frenetic, exciting, visceral and violent mess that shows you what things might look like if they stretched just a little bit more now and again.

The story of the match was that neither side could get the advantage for long. It went two caidas, starting with the Ingobernales having something of an early advantage (though not necessarily due to an ambush as Shocker was just about smart enough, for once, to wait for his teammates to arrive; I assume that his opponents weren't in a rush to attack because they'd just shown off their swank new mafia entrance gear). It was a very solid beatdown with lots of holding of the "rudos" so missile or springboard or just regular dropkicks could be hit. Eventually, Los Ingobernales got cocky and got yanked out of the ring while trying to attack from the outside in and we ended up with a mini comeback, and a spirited one at that (Shocker yanking Sombra's mask and what not). This cycled right what felt like a tercera caida finishing sequence with quick cutoffs and finisher attempts, ending finally with a huge double suplex on NC and the corner dropkick on Niebla.

After this, they staged a reset and tossed structure out the window. Usually in a reset final fall (which is what this would be), they run through the pairings, with one side or another holding a fairly distinct advantage until they start the rush to the finish. Alternatively, they might do a second beatdown/comeback. Either way, it would generally end in big dives, and then leave the captains or the fueding focus on the match in the ring to finish things up. Here it's just chaotic, with neither side allowing the other to get much of an advantage before the other side swarms and fights back. If not for the crowd being so behind Casas and company (and the way they played to them) and how much Los Ingobernales were stalling (and how THEY played the crowd heelishly), it would have felt like some of those crazy rudo vs rudo trios brawls from eras past.

Basically, they did a lot of stuff. They run Rush vs NC a few times. They did some Niebla jiving around, but it didn't really hurt the flow of the match. They did the fun sequence of Shocker vs the World sequence from a week or two before where he clotheslines one opponent, dodges a shot in the corner, stunners Rush, and then gets out of the way so the dodged opponent dropkicks him. They had Rush cut out Casas' leg on his seated senton from the apron attempt even after he gave Rush a great headbutt to get him out. They had Niebla hit his fun back headbutt followed by a really fun Santo style tope out through the corner of the ring.

And they brought it all together by getting Rush and company their heat back after losing the tag titles. Shocker had been going for the Scorpion on Sombra but it ended up as a stumbling pin attempt. Aftewards, Sombra rushed at the ref to complain and Rush slipped into the ring so he could foul Shocker. The ref missed it and Los Ingobernales won. This was a lot of fun. I'll be honest. I was sort of dreading another match between these six at Arena Mexico coming in but they really slipped the reins and the end result was chaotic and a bit of a mess but enjoyable.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Beyond Wrestling Americanrana ‘14 Review

Tag Team Battle Royal

This was a tag team battle royal, so like you would expect we have lots of guys with pun tag team names throwing clubbing forearms. There was some Johnny Cockstrong comedy spots, although not as funny as it has been in the past. Really hard to get much of a sense of anyone in a cluster like this.  They kept it moving at least so I wasn’t bored.

Pinkie Sanchez/Sugar D (Sex and Candy) v. Dave Cole/Aaron Epic (Fear in Loathing in New England)

This was based apparently on a breakup of a Sanchez/D/Epic stable, so was a little more heated then a lot of Beyond I have seen. I was happy to see that, but I didn’t love this match. Cole and Epic seemed like pretty generic tights and boots indy guys, lots of double stomp double teams and yakuza kicks. I did like Sugar D’s fired up Mr. Wrestling 2 babyface act, but I think Sanchez hurt himself and the finish was a bit wonky.

Nicholas Kaye v. Anthony Stone

This was a loser must retire throw in the towel match. This is a long running feud I am unfamiliar with, I have probably seen both guys before but they didn’t make much of an impression on me. The match started out like a pretty fun garbage brawl stunt show, Kaye catches the side of a chair in the face early and gushes blood which always adds to this kind of match. I also had no problem with the interference which had Kaye’s second Myke Quest (who looks like a sleazier Dean Ambrose, which I was surprised was possible) and Stone’s sister Natalya brawling on the floor. I was all set to recommend this, but the ending was super dumb, Stone handcuffs Kaye to the ring and goes and gets a chainsaw which causes Kaye to throw in the towel. Really silly, and anti climactic,  it almost felt like a comedy spot, he might as well have gotten a bazooka or a bayonet. It felt like they were building to something pretty cool, but the finish took it out of me.

Bryan Myers v. Ryan Rush

Myers is the former Curt Hawkins who is a WWE guy I know existed, but remember very little about. This was student v. teacher and worked as kind of an IWA Mid-South touring exhibition match. I thought Rush had some pretty nice athleticism, he had big time hops on his dropkick for a solidly build dude. Myers was clearly professional an well trained, although a little bland. There was a fun spot where Myers took a bump into the crowd an laid out four fans, that might work better on a show where everyone watching is a wrestler.

Team Tremendous (Dan Barry/Bill Carr) v. Best Friends (Chuck Taylor/Trent Baretta)

I think I have made my feeling about Chuck Taylor wink and smirk wrestling pretty clear, Baretta I remember being a generic Velocity junior in the WWE, but he is in Taylor land now. I have liked Barry in the past but he is along for the yucks here. Finish is clearly improvised as Baretta blew out his knee on a dive. Very much not my thing, although I suppose if you like Taylor’s horseshit, you might enjoy this.

Eric Corvis v. Jimmy Jacobs

This was a first blood match and was one of the two matches which caused me to buy this show, I haven’t seen a ton of Jacobs recently, but he has always been a guy I liked a lot, and someone who is really great at working a gimmicked brawl, Corvis is one of my favorite Beyond guys, I am not a usually a fan of guys working innovator of offense gimmicks, but he does pull out some cool moves and is also a pretty good brawler. This was good stuff for the lions share of the match, I liked all of the teasing  of spikes and there were some nasty looking stuff with chairs including Corvis hitting a spring board moonsault Van Damninator. Then unfortunately the booking kicks in as the TJ Marconi and Darius Carter heel invasion stable comes out and cuts a promo in the middle of the match, as Dany Only in an V for Vendetta mask comes out and stabs Corvis in the throat with a corkscrew, the carving up of Corvis was pretty nasty, but Jacobs totally got black holed as he had to stand around when they ran their angle. Nothing wrong with setting up something for the next show, but it sucks that they didn’t let the Corvis v. Jacobs feud work itself out.

Drew Gulak v. Tommaso Ciampa

This was a European Rules match, and was kind of a mix of a Gulak style match and an ROH indy match, Ciampa was fine on the mat, and the early parts of the match had some very cool matwork, including a bunch of really nifty spots built around knuckle locks. At one point it kind of flipped to a bunch of elbow exchanges and suplexes into turnbuckles and that stuff was a lot less compelling. I liked the end run OK as they did a bunch stuff working around the specific rules, each exchanging low blows to get an advantage, and Ciampa staying down during the 10 count and taunting Gulak. Good match, and a fun Gulak performance, although not at the level of the best stuff he has done this year.

Kimber Lee v. Silver Ant

I am not sure what the point of working intergender matches completely equal, it feels like less of a big deal when the woman pulls an upset. Silver Ant was pretty good, I liked the counter mat wrestling he was doing and kept himself looking strong while putting over a tiny girl.

Juicy Product v. Young Bucks

This was similar in a way, to the main event with the Beyond guys working a match in the style of their opponents. I liked this a little more, as I have more tolerance for Young Bucks Spotfests then Elgin matches, although neither are my thing.  Lots of crazy spots one after another with minimal selling or little downtime. I thought the Juicy Product seemed very comfortable doing this style which has a high degree of difficulty, this isn’t what I look for in wrestling, but I enjoyed it OK

Chris Dickinson v. Michael Elgin

I couldn’t get into this. Really was clear that Dickinson wanted to a work an ROH main event style Elgin match and that is something it is going to be very hard for me to get into. Lots of fighting spirit stuff, diffident selling, very much not my thing. I can see fans of this style liking it, Dickenson looks credible throwing blows with a big dude like Elgin. Lots of interference which didn’t help.

Not my favorite Beyond show, had a handful of matches I was enjoying ruined by booking, and some stuff that was not up my alley. Gulak v. Ciampa might be worth the individual match price though as Gulak is having himself a year

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