Segunda Caida

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

Sunday, November 30, 2014

2014 Ongoing Match of the Year List

27. Sheamus v. Cesaro WWE Night of Champions 9/21

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.

40. Big Ryck vs. Prince Puma Lucha Underground 9/27

PAS: I thought this was about as good an overbooked ECWish match as I have seen in quite a while. Ryck looked way better then he looked last week, everything was really stiff looking, and he was great at knowing when to bump and when to shrug off his smaller guy. All the little beats of this match were great, Ryck catching the kendo stick, deciding to chill on a chair while his boys did the work, leading to Puma dropkicking him, that brutal looking KO forearm, and then the crazy Parkour leap from the rafters for the save. The finish felt a little telegraphed, but otherwise this was way better then it had any right to be.

ER: I thought this was pretty great. It was a great example of run-ins and interference actually adding to a match. I was expecting having to see a bunch of the massive Ryck taking a bunch of flipping armdrags. Instead Ryck got to break out a bunch of brutal offense, and Puma's comebacks were handled in really smart ways like having Cortez and Cisco interfere to take all the cool moves, which would lead to Ryck being taken off guard. The progression of the match is just really smart, with Puma fighting this monster, and Ryck actually coming off like a monster. Every one of Ryck's shots looked brutal, loved him flexing over the ropes while choking Puma, loved him pulling him into a KO forearm tug-o-war style, loved his big kneelifts. The spot where Ryck pulls up a chair to watch his goons take apart Puma, only to have Puma take them apart and then blast Ryck with a dropkick is just smart, fun, and unique. Poor props to the camera work for the way they filmed Mundo dropping in from above. It really looked like he flew 20 feet into the ring. This was a really impressive match, with a super smart layout that made every person involved look great.

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Saturday, November 29, 2014

2014 Ongoing Match of the Year List

43. Guerrero Maya Jr./Hechicero v. Traumas 1 & 2 CMLL Sanchez 11/15

PAS: Really fun mat based match which very much delivered on the promise of Hechicero mixing it up with the Traumas. We open with a spectacular Trauma 1 v. Hechicero section which has some cool athletic counters, and a series of nasty rolling cradles into submissions. We also get a cool second fall exchange between T2 and Hechicero. Maya looked good when the match sped up a bit, but he looked a little lost during the mat stuff, Trauma's will eat you up if you can't hang. The other thing that kept this from being really high end was the wonky finish which felt like some sort of double pin cop out so on one had to job. More of a match with great exchanges then a great match, but man alive were those exchanges amazing.

ER: This was a fun match but really more of an amazing mat exhibition than an actual mat that built to finishes. But if you're going to to a mat exhibition, might as well break out some of the most gonzo crazy submissions you've ever seen. Some of the submissions here I can't even begin to describe. When people hear about "trippy lucha submissions" I don't think they've ever seen anything like this. Hechicero vs. either of the Traumas was the stuff lucha dreams are made of. Hechicero might be the best current mat guy in the lucha game, and yes I understand implications of that statement. I want to see Hechicero against Thatcher/Gulak as he can easily work the lucha version of their thing, and some of his movements are just so damn impressive. He always does these cool things with leverage and is really great at highlighting how close some of his riskier submissions can come to being reversed. He'll lock on a high leverage move but you can see how it can be quickly reversed by an able opponent. Hechicero will lock on a nasty legbar and then when wrenching it in will take the leverage too far, and then the Traumas gamely take control back. My favorite sub was this nasty three-parter with Hechicero starting with a half Rings of Saturn, holding onto that while locking in an Indian deathlock (with it locked in by holding Trauma I's legs in place with his chest, and then rolling all that through into a surfboard. That he didn't make it look like Trauma was just waiting around to be put into it speaks volumes about both men. Maya was lost during all the mat stuff and did a bunch of annoying stuff like offer up his arms without making Trauma even begin to fight for them, but Hechicero vs. Traumas heals all wounds.


2014 MASTER LIST

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Friday, November 28, 2014

Lucha Underground Episode 5: Boyle Heights Street Fight Workrate Report

PAS: I really liked the opening office scene between Dario Cuento and Konan. Konan is so good in this role, sort of the street gang elder dealing with the low level Columbian connect.

ER: Not sure if this is an idea that is going to stick around, but I dug the Antibalas-esque house band they had playing. I've been to a few music/wrestling shows that are always a bad idea, as they were "watch a match, then watch a bad metal band!" with the bands always playing a few songs in between matches. They were awful and killed the mood for both. But having more of a house band to play during down time is a kind of cool idea.

1. Mil Muertes vs. Drago

ER: I really liked this one. Drago got soundly beat, but he put up a good fight and it wasn't just him getting demolished. Muertes finally looked impressive in a LU match. Part of it was Drago bumping big for him, but Muertes' stuff really looked on point, from the power moves down to the simple stuff. His overhand rights looked nice, his shoulder blocks looked painful, he had a cool standing powerslam that dumped Drago on his shoulder, and spearing Drago out of the sky was an awesome finish. Drago still got to hit cool speed stuff like a nice corkscrew body block and a sweet tornado DDT. This was a high quality Worldwide match.

PAS: Drago might be my favorite guy in Lucha Underground, I haven't seen a ton of his AAA stuff, but he is just crazy fast and athletic and has an awesome look. This is also the best Muertes has looked that big right into a standing powerslam was nasty looking. He still needs better pants and a better finisher, but he felt a little more like Mesisas here, who is a guy I have loved in the past.

2. Son of Havoc vs. Mascarita Sagrada

ER: Striker: "What does it say about Havoc that he's willing to beat up a woman, willing to beat up a little person." I would assume that Son of Havoc does not control who he gets booked against. His employer tells him to wrestle, he makes the most of his opportunity. Having Sagrada go over here makes that first episode Sexy Star loss to Havoc look even sillier. Sagrada took like 60% of this match, too, which reallllly makes me lose interest kind of quickly. There's only so much I can watch of an 80 lb guy tossing around a 190 lb guy before I get bored. It approaches something more like Kenny Omega wrestling a blow-up doll at a certain point. Not to mention that Sexy Star couldn't beat Havoc one on one, and Sagrada was able to beat him while also dealing with constant interference from Ivelisse (which, incidentally, was my favorite part of the match. I thought her interference - especially her neat yakuza kick - was really good). So now I'm supposed to buy Star against Chavo, even though she couldn't come close to beating a guy who just got beat by a little person. They're really losing me with all of this.

PAS: I really think Sagrada should be working trios or tags rather then singles matches, in and out quick hits work way better then expect us to buy a head on victory. I did like his tope to Ivelisse, but otherwise this felt like a waste of time.

3. Sexy Star vs. Chavo Guerrero

ER: And this ends up being not too much of anything. Chavo tosses her around for a bit, goes for a kiss, gets knocked to the floor, then Star grabs a chair and goes crazy going after all of the male genitalia, starting with the ref for the DQ. We get a Pentagon/Fenix run in with Pentagon kindly holding a chair in front of his face for a long time so Fenix can kick it. I did really like Star's alley-oop rana, with Fenix tossing her up into it. But this was almost all angle, no match. We'll see what it sets up I guess.

PAS: I thought Chavo came off like a total sleazeball rapist here, that kiss felt like a UVA frat boy. This is the best character work he has done in a decade. I do wish I could see whether that translates into a real match. Hopefully the tag this sets up will be a great in ring Chavo performance.


4. Big Ryck vs. Prince Puma

PAS: I thought this was about as good an overbooked ECWish match as I have seen in quite a while. Ryck looked way better then he looked last week, everything was really stiff looking, and he was great at knowing when to bump and when to shrug off his smaller guy. All the little beats of this match were great, Ryck catching the kendo stick, deciding to chill on a chair while his boys did the work, leading to Puma dropkicking him, that brutal looking KO forearm, and then the crazy Parkour leap from the rafters for the save. The finish felt a little telegraphed, but otherwise this was way better then it had any right to be.

ER: I thought this was pretty great. It was a great example of run-ins and interference actually adding to a match. I was expecting having to see a bunch of the massive Ryck taking a bunch of flipping armdrags. Instead Ryck got to break out a bunch of brutal offense, and Puma's comebacks were handled in really smart ways like having Cortez and Cisco interfere to take all the cool moves, which would lead to Ryck being taken off guard. The progression of the match is just really smart, with Puma fighting this monster, and Ryck actually coming off like a monster. Every one of Ryck's shots looked brutal, loved him flexing over the ropes while choking Puma, loved him pulling him into a KO forearm tug-o-war style, loved his big kneelifts. The spot where Ryck pulls up a chair to watch his goons take apart Puma, only to have Puma take them apart and then blast Ryck with a dropkick is just smart, fun, and unique. Poor props to the camera work for the way they filmed Mundo dropping in from above. It really looked like he flew 20 feet into the ring. This was a really impressive match, with a super smart layout that made every person involved look great.


LUCHA UNDERGROUND MASTER LIST


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Thursday, November 27, 2014

MLJ: 2010: Mistico Interlude 3: Torneo Nacional de Parejas Increibles

 Torneo Nacional de Parejas Increibles 2010
taped 2010-01-22 @ Arena Mexico

As best as I can tell, this parejas increibles tournament was on the same night as the Garza /Ultimo Guerrero title match, so I'm going in circles, but at least I know where I am. It was also the first of the yearly tournaments. This is definitely one of those cases where I wish I knew Spanish better because Rey Bucanero was a guest on commentary and not only would I have wanted to known how the usual announcers reacted to what was going on but he'd be interesting too, having just had matches with Mistico.

Averno/Mistico vs Ephesto/Euforia

3:07 in

I'm assuming that Euforia was already a junior member of GdI but for tournament lucha I'm not going to do the legwork to figure it out. Averno and Ephesto were stablemates (I think). It's interesting that they had to field a rudo/rudo team. I'm only looking at Mistico's matches here, but Maximo and Niebla were teamed too and that sounds pretty fun.

Mistico and Averno came out with matching gear, which meant Mistico had Averno's colors and the horns on his mask. Averno's mask had some of Mistico's elements in it. This came as a pretty big surprise to the crowd as they'd been feuding forever. Mistico was still slapping the crowds hands though and he worked pretty straightforward as a tecnico here. He did his usual stuff with Euforia, flips, headscissors, armdrags in, back and forth. Averno and Ephesto worked together well and I imagine they were having fun with it. It ended with a pause in the action and handshake attempts by Ephesto and Euforia. Averno screwed Ephesto with a kick and the devil's wings. Mistico dodged the cheapshot and locked on La Mistica and that was the win.

Post match Averno and Mistico were pumped but there was nothing too suspicious. There was some mild booing though.

Averno/Mistico vs Volador, Jr./Terrible



Here's the turn. I think the earlier match set it up very well actually, because there was just enough weirdness in the Averno/Mistico team to make people wonder, to make them uncomfortable. It set the tone for this.

Terrible was a stablemate of Averno too. More importantly, Mistico and Volador, with Sombra, were a trios called the Super Sky Team at this point. They had certain parts of their act honed together and that shined through early. They moved in tandem to hit their respective opponents with two big dives. Shortly thereafter Volador would hit a Spanish fly on Averno to pin him and then Mistico would take advantage of a distraction to knock Terrible into Volador and roll him up.

This left Volador and Mistico and they immediately bounced off the ropes and did tandem backflips. Instead of setting up a long back and forth, Mistico speared Volador and started punching him and working over the mask. He started taunting the crowd now, going full on rudo. Voladar fought back and did some mask pulling of his own. They had a pretty heated chop fest and bounced off the ropes again. This time Volador first stumbled and then was full on tripped by Averno. Mistico was tripped by Terrible a moment later which allowed Volador to go for La Mistica, but Mistico blocked it and fouled him huge for the win.

I could have done without the Terrible trip which sort of muddied the waters but in general this was a pretty dramatic and effective turn. The fact it came almost immediately after they did some tandem movements was visually striking. Post match, they pounded on Volador some more and everyone yelled at each other on the mic. Notably, Mistico ended it by tossing beer on Volador.

Averno/Mistico vs Atlantis/Mascara Dorada

4:48 in

This was the semi-finals and Atlantis was sporting his white tecnico mask. Mistico had taken off his shirt during the post-match of the quarter-final so the only way to tell Averno from him easily was the body type; Averno was a little bulkier. Atlantis was sort of a sentimental favorite here, almost by default.

There was more mask-ripping and heeling by Mistico but the real story of the match was just how well and thoroughly Averno and Mistico worked together. My favorite moment was when they both faked a dive and did the Mistico pray-pose together to huge boos. Ultimately, Atlantis made his comeback and Dorada hit a really nice dive to take Mistico out. One Atlantida later and this branch of the tournament was over.

I think they probably should have put Averno and Mistico over in the entire tournament if they wanted to really get over the turn but what they did do over the night was pretty effective. It was all tournament lucha, short, flashy, not all that deep, but the overarching story of the turn was quite well played out in and out of the ring. The crowd was hugely into it, especially after the foul.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

2014 Ongoing Match of the Year List

22. Bray Wyatt vs. Dean Ambrose WWE 11/23

PAS: I really liked this, just a nasty fight with both guys beating the shit out of each other. I loved all of the car crash spots as both guys were just colliding into each other with abandon. Dean's crazy dive off the apron was and although the Bray on the microphone was a bit hokey, it kind of worked for me. Finish wasn't the craziest bit of table work we have seen but the character stuff by Dean really made it. These guys could have a great TLC match I am really looking forward to it.

ER: So much good stuff in this. I was expecting a good match and they more than delivered. I think "unorthodox" might be the most overused term by WWE announcers. I think at this point they've called every worker unorthodox. I'm not sure who they think is orthodox. And while technically inaccurate, it's a shame Goldberg wasn't here during this period. Ambrose has been my absolute favorite wrestler this year and he really is the greatest possible version of Roddy Piper in They Live. They were just constantly slamming into each other during this and I expect they had a bet going to see who could dislocate both shoulders first. Every single exchange was just super violent and I have no clue how Ambrose has been relatively healthy his whole career. Seems like I always want to write the word "fling" when talking about Ambrose. It's really the only time I use it. I no longer have "flings" so the word is useless to me in that sense. But every Ambrose match I always end up talking about he just "flings" his whole damn body at his opponent. He really does, and it looks fabulous. I think we can definitively say that their double clothesline spot was the greatest iteration of that spot in wrestling history. Normally it's a spot that predictably defies physics, but here Bray charges at fairly full speed and both appear to try and clothesline each other as damn hard as possible. I'm surprised neither guy got their arm ripped off, like two drag racers getting too close and knocking each others mirrors off. I like how the rebound elbow really only works for Ambrose 2/3 of the time, it's fun in an "opponent scouted it" kind of way. Every shot in this match landed with a nice thud, all of the nasty clotheslines, all the elbows, Bray going forehead first into a chair on that DDT. Their strike exchanges look truly unique, not like two guys who mapped them out, but like two off balance guys trying to sneak shots in. Ending was flat but it kind of should have been since no man should get a leg up on the other yet. I loved all of this.

Ongoing MOTY List

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

MLJ: 2010: Mistico Interlude 2: Místico vs Rey Bucanero - EPIC

Aired 2010-01-17
taped 2010-01-11 @ Arena Puebla
Místico vs Rey Bucanero



I loved this match. In fact, this may well be my favorite match in all of those that I've looked at so far for this project. I wouldn't call it the best match, but maybe my favorite. There are some innate problems with modern CMLL matches, and certainly with singles matches, especially compared to matches from decades past. The first two caidas are almost always terribly slight. In a title match you might have a relatively long primera, where they do some matwork or whatever, but it's usually fairly abrupt. Maybe you'll get a longer beatdown in an apuestas match but then a tiny comeback and a reset. At least one of the two caidas will be short and very often both of them are. This leads to a groan-worthy overselling in the tercera where they lay around like you'd see in matches of old, trying to milk emotion and importance, but without earning that selling by wrestling the first part of a match that lived up to it.

I was expecting more of the same here. Not only was this a mano a mano match, but was just for Arena Puebla, a mini feud just for them, and it was right before Mistico was about to turn, and it was Rey Bucenaro who had disappointed me with his previous singles matches, and there wasn't even anything at stake but pride. I thought this was going to be the definition  of a lame duck singles match and it was only morbid curious that made me look. In the end, I was happily surprised.

Even then, it followed much of the formula. There were two extremely abrupt caidas followed by a long one. For once, though, they seemed self aware of the formula and its problems and they tweaked it accordingly to make it work. I had enjoyed Rey quite a bit in the trios match to set this up. I thought he played the rudo quite well, dodging Mistico and cheapshotting him when he could. Here, with a huge chunk of the crowd in the Porra Ruda section behind him, Rey continued that heeling. He brutally attacked Mistico on the way in, darted out, beat on him a bit, and then slid back in. It looked like we were going to get that old stalwart, the ambush driven beatdown, for the primera. Mistico tried to get back in and Rey went for another attack, but Mistico blocked it and pushed him back enough that he could hit a springboard armdrag, high and broad, pushing him out of the ring. He followed it up with tope suicida, landing on his feet. Then, once Rey finally made it back into the ring, it was one springboard missile drop kick, and then another, and then a third. He followed it up with a springboard senton bomb and I honestly thought that would be the fall. A nice, tight little shine where the tecnico fought back against the initial cheapshot and hit some very pretty offense for the pin. Instead, Rey kicked out, which surprised Mistico as much as it did me. His hands went up in disbelief and Rey latched on to a few bodyparts for a flash pin and the three count. It was a primera that only lasted a couple of minutes, but it fooled me twice, had some breathtaking offense, and really knew what it was doing.

For the segunda, I was expecting the regular formula again. A bit of a beat down, a mistake, some comeback and a quick pin. It looked like was what I was getting too. Between falls, Rey had beaten up Mistico outside the ring, and when he tried to get back in, fell on him with a front facelock. Rey lifted him up to the top and worked the mask a bit, before pulling him down into a tree of woe. Rey tossed him into the corner and played to the crowd. Then he charged in after him only to miss as Mistico moved. He quickly positioned Rey into a 619 position and hit it and then went up for the springboard 'rana. Again, I figured that to be it. Competent lucha of this style, but hardly anything I'd call interesting. Rey dropped down as their bodies hit though, functionally power bombing Mistico. I have in my notes that it was a "smile-inducing" power bomb because I never expected it. Rey followed it up with a pose, a well-deserved pose; it was a costly one, however, as Mistico hit a flash roll up to take the caida. I know this didn't seem like much, a slight little segunda where most of it was predictable, but that one little twist at the end, that one flourish, is the sort of thing that can breathe life into matches like this, and after two caidas, I was pretty happy with what I was watching and just hoped that the tercera, where most of the actual heavy lifting would be, might live up to it.

Right from the get go, the tercera was good. I was expecting some back and forth into a your move-my move escalation, with the selling to match. It started with that back and forth, with Mistico doing his handspring off the ropes and hitting an excellent tope con hilo which Rey caught expertly. Rey fought his way back in with a float over facecracker, and they followed up by trading some well done roll-ups, the last having Rey going for the ropes for leverage. So far, so good. Following patterns is not innately bad. Patterns exist due either to format or content limitations, or, more often, because they work. It's generally HOW the pattern is followed that makes a match good or not. If they were going to start off with a reset and some back and forth, at least the back and forth was engaging.

That said, when they break from the script and replace it with something inherently more compelling, it really stands out. The back and forth kept going back and forth. Mistico latched onto the arm and ran towards the corner in order to bound up and dive off with an armdrag. Suddenly, even as my eyes, as if through habit, went to follow the motion back towards the ring, Mistico's entire body jarred down. Rey had halted him and drove the arm down over the top rope as a counter. Mistico crumbled to the ground and Rey was immediately out after him, slapping on a Fujiwara Armbar on the floor.

Admittedly, by this point I was a little caught up in the match. I may have written "clever clever clever" after the fall in the segunda; I'll understand if you disagree but it moved me in the moment. I've seen plenty of lucha matches where they dabble with some limbwork for a moment before moving on, especially in the tercera where you don't usually see such a thing meaningfully introduced. Also, it was Mistico here, who had come into his own under Wagner, Jr, and had, from what I remembered in 2006, picked up some of his bad habits.
I was into the match, like I said, so we'll say I was cautiously optimistic, guardedly so. I wanted the tercera to really bring things home and to provide me a total package with the parts of the first two caidas I liked.

The tecera blew away my expectations. Rey dug in with armwork, grinding down with some nice, direct holds and using the rope to damage it more. Mistico sold both in large and small ways. When bouncing off the ropes trying to get some distance and make some offense, he'd favor it. When appealing to the crowd, he'd do so while showing his pain. When he finally fought back, it was first with kicks, and then with a leg lock. The two rolled to the floor in it, where the referee finally broke it up. The doctor checked on Mistico's arm while Rey rolled back in and sold his leg. Finally, Mistico made it up and hit a springboard plancha back in. After which Rey sold the leg and Mistico the arm and it all felt warranted. I often like (when earned) the "full-body" sort of selling you'll find in lucha. It's almost always easier and cleaner to focus on a body part and to dedicate one's self to the selling of it. It made this moment feel earned when it might not in another match.

From here they started to move towards the finish, but Mistico's damaged arm continued to impact the match. The first match near fall was off of a Buca Storm out of nowhere. Rey had mostly walked off his leg-pain, but after a two count, was now beginning to sell his frustration in not being able to put his opponent away. He started to litter elbow drops upon Mistico, who caught him in the midst with another roll up. They drew apart again, with Rey selling against the ropes and Mistico selling the arm. This let Mistico get a running start and going for a flip up 'rana. Rey dropped down again with a powerbomb though and went for the ropes for leverage once more, again only for two.

They were really balancing Mistico's damaged arm with Rey's frustration now. Mistico pounded on his arm to get life back into it and undid his elbow pad and taped wrist to try to give it some air. Then, symbolically rejuvenated by it, he darted off the ropes again and went for La Mistica. In a fit of selling, he slid right off, unable to hang in his injured state. Rey capitalized, darting back off the ropes and latching on, locking in his own La Mistica! It was a hell of a moment, really, the sort of finisher stealing you only get in CMLL in the most heated situations, and one that made a ton of sense given the story of the match. They ended up too close to the ropes though and the ref broke the hold.

Now, Rey's frustration was boiling over. He went up to the second rope and dove down, but Mistico managed to get his feet up. Now, appealing to the crowd again, even as he sold, Mistico made his comeback. He managed a one armed body slam and then slipped outside. I thought we'd get the finish here, as he went up for another springboard senton bomb, but he had taken too long and Rey moved again. Rey picked up another two count, before Mistico made it back up. He darted off the ropes, holding his arm close to his body; with a flourish of speed he started to whip his way up and around Rey again. This time though, he was able to hang on and landed hard with La Mistica. The tap was almost immediate and Mistico darted up to the top rope, his arm clenched to his side in agony, but ultimately victorious.

This was great, but it was great in a very specific way and for very specific reasons. It understood my expectations and it moved against them in self-aware, distinct, surprising ways. At almost every point, they made a creative decision that made the match better instead of just coasting with the bare minimum of what they could have gotten away with. Maybe if more matches did that, this one wouldn't have felt so special, but since they don't, it really stood out. I honestly don't know if other people will feel the same way I did, because my enjoyment of this match was tied not only to the very strong performances, including Rey's intensity, frustration, and general heeling, and especially Mistico's dedication to his selling, but also to my own expectations. It took the aggravating confines of modern CMLL singles matches and somehow made them sing. I liked it immensely and I hope that those who take the time to watch it do too.

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Monday, November 24, 2014

MLJ: Cavernario Spotlight 4: Bárbaro Cavernario © vs Esfinge [OCCIDENTE MIDDLE] & Bárbaro Cavernario, Disturbio, Hijo del Signo vs Black Metal, Metálico, Molotov

Taped 2013-03-05 @ Arena Coliseo Guadalajara
Bárbaro Cavernario © vs Esfinge [OCCIDENTE MIDDLE]


7m43s in

This is really just clips from the tercera, but we skipped 4 months since the last match so I thought it was important to at least look at it. In the form we had it, this was pretty damn exciting actually. It's a shame we don't have the whole thing because you definitely learn different things from singles matches, especially title matches, than you do from trios. The dives with Cavernario missing his crazy flip but then finding a way to catch Esfinge from a prone position, were pretty nuts. The fact he managed that, protected his opponent, but still made it look good deserves a lot of credit. He really put a beating on his body, though, not just missing the dive but eating a Hamrick bump through the ropes which lead to another great Esfinge dive (this time a no hands Asai Moonsault to the floor). The finish was fairly clever as Esfinge gloated after his success, opening himself up to La cavernaria. There's so much ebb and flow to title matches that you can't get a good sense of them through clips, but what we saw here made me want to see more at least.

Taped 2013-06-23 @ Arena Coliseo Guadalajara
Bárbaro Cavernario, Disturbio, Hijo del Signo vs Black Metal, Metálico, Molotov



To sum up, there are five guys in this match I've never seen before. I find these opening matches on cards interesting because you get a lot of hard work and more attempts at innovation and trying different things. The flip side is that the work is both more collaborative and sloppier. More than that, though, a lot of the transitions and timing end up stilted. There's a lack of polish. One of my favorite things about lucha is that you rarely ever see the strings. Here you do.

So, five wrestlers I didn't know. I'm not sure I had a great sense of all of them by the end. Molotov has been wrestling for about ten years and I thought he was notably agile, but his opening matwork with Disturbio felt a lot like them just collaboratively trying to get to the next hold. Signo had a decent enough Fuerza act but it felt a little like a pale shadow. Still, he had the most distinct personality of the match outside of Cavenario. Metalico and Black Metal felt sort of interchangeable to me. They were both fairly capable as tecnicos drawing the crowd in and had a couple of good spots, which I'll mention in a minute. Disturbio was funny teasing a crane kick, but was fairly unmemorable in general.

The match was ultimately a mix of fun spots and good ideas and things that were blown. Black Metal let the rudos take over by foolishly running up their turnbuckles to hit a moonsault. He got punched repeatedly and knocked off the ropes instead. That started the beat down. I have in my notes "Molotov vs the world," which is usually when a tecnico fights off multiple rudo opponents; it's followed immediately by "world wins," which was followed by a couple of nice corner clotheslines and a boring Cavernario pin for the primera. He made up for it later though, because in the beatdown, his intensity really shined through. Cavernario, just by the way he worked his gimmick, can make a match like this feel more interesting. It's not stiffness necessarily, but angle of attack, if that makes sense. The way he comes at his opponent is just outlandish enough to stand out. His character work was definitely developed by this point. He was just an unfrozen caveman, but one savvy enough to point one way and watch as his partners swarmed the unassuming, fresh tecnico during a beatdown. He also did a Niebla-style comedic fall off the apron spot that seemed to get over pretty well.

The comeback was pretty tepid, just the usual ducking of a double clothesline and a rana. There was a bit of a revenge beatdown on the outside between falls, but we didn't get to see much of it before they went into the tercera reset. Here we had a decent amount of showcase sequence, with Molotov looking agile again and Metalico matched up well with Signo. He did do the most ridiculous spot, though, slowly rolling into a back somersault on the apron so that he could put on a headscissors takedown onto Signo who was on the floor. It was like watching horribly colored paint dry in the worst way. Ultimately, Disturbio and Black Metal had a pretty good set of pin exchanges, before they got each other eliminated on a double pin, which is not anything I've seen before in a trios match but it actually made a lot of sense and should probably be used more. From there, Cavernario and hit each other with a double clothesline and they teased another double pin as the opportunistic partners rushed in before clearing ther ring for Disturbio and Black Metal. That was followed by gallant (a really nice sunset flip done by hanging on to the midsection during a back drop in a way I've never seen before) and goofus (a really flubbed Alabama slam out of the corner), before Metalico locked in a nice submission for the win.

It's hard to rate matches like this relative to what I usually see. On a quality standpoint, they're not better, not even in the ballpark. On a fun standpoint, they can come close, though. What they are, first and foremost, is interesting. You see different trends in watching opening matches like these, some positive, some negative. What does stand out is how Cavernario, even more than a year ago, just popped in them, though.

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Survivor Series Live Blog

ER: I'm doing even more internet wrestling writer self-flagellation than Phil as I'm skimming through the pre-show to see if there's anything hidden in there. It said on the screen "Exclusive match" so we'll see if that means an actual exclusive match, or just Booker T HOT TAKES. Every one of Booker T's hot takes boils down to "Me and my brother used to fight all the time, but we had each other's backs". I swear no matter what feud he's talking about, he immediately brings it to that.

We get a Bad News Barrett promo where he basically throws his hat in the ring as the new authority figure depending on how tonight shakes out. AJ also does a promo rolling her eyes at all the sister drama. This stuff feels like stuff that should be relegated to a pre-show. Cesaro in-ring promo is interrupted by Zeb, and Rachel hilariously points out that the moment Zeb comes out there was a prompt on the bottom of the screen saying that the broadcast is available in Spanish. Intentional or not that made me laugh.

1. Cesaro vs. Jack Swagger

ER: This is a nice little pre-show match. Can't complain about this. I was expecting something with some lesser guys like Fandango or Heath Slater. This was their Worldwide match, as it gets about 5 minutes and isn't great, but it's good enough. Cesaro gets a few nifty throws in including a nice overhead belly to belly. He sells an early ankle injury adequately, although it seems like a bit TOO much as he's selling it after being in the patriot lock for a few seconds which would be already selling the patriot lock more than it's ever been sold. There was a cool moment where Cesaro limps towards the corner, but uses it to decoy Swagger into a missed charge (which he runs nicely into the turnbuckles). Surprised to see Cesaro go down so easy and clean to the lock. I haven't been following the TV much lately, so it would appear like Cesaro's stock is plummeting like I assume WWE's is doing ever since launching the Network.

PAS: Opening up with a long Helmsley promo is a rough way to start a PPV, man I can't even fast forward through this like I can on RAW. I hope you fucks appreciate this. They are hitting the Cena heel turn so much here, that it feels like a rib on the Opinions for You bloggers. I can already see the long terrible Masked Man Grantland article I won't be reading on Monday.

ER: Opening MacMahons promo really felt like "hey none of you have been watching TV for the past month so here's a point by point rundown for you." I loved how apparently Stephanie didn't understand the match stipulations until she was literally standing in the ring at the PPV.

2. Mizdow vs. Usos vs. Dust Brothers vs. Matadores

PAS: The last three minutes of this were kind of fun, I liked the dive train and the crazy superplex was kind of neat. Didn't care for much else, I didn't hate Mizdow last week but it has moved over into Chikara territory for me now. Unfortunately I think this means the end of good PPV tag matches for a while.

MattD: I'd really wanted this to be Gold/Star vs Matadors since I want another month or two of featured Dustin matches and I didn't think they'd put the belts on the Matadors, but Miz/Mizdow is pretty much primed for that sort of focus as they build to a split.

I kind of love how after last year when the tag titles were used as sort of a big middle of the card match, now they're used to start off almost every PPV with a high speed, high action sort of match. They're the new cruiserweight title.

The best part of this match was the Gold/Star heeling in keeping Mizdow out: Stardust teasing it and then refusing, Dustin blind tagging him when he finally got in, just ramping up the anticipation for when he finally made it in at the end. Goldust working brunt of this match was the best way to run it. The double team with the sunset flip and the German was ridiculous but fun. I loved Stardust pushing a Matador into the post which set up the Usos getting tagged in later, and the hot tag set up with the tombstone fight into the spinning DDT was pretty great too. And I liked how they teased the Usos dive before they actually gave it to the crowd with the crazy dive sequence.

Finish was pretty much what I was expecting (well, not the goofy trainwreck belly to back suplex spot). It's Sandow's first actual title which is kind of amazing in this day and age. Hopefully Dustin can keep enough q-rating to make it to a Mania match vs Cody.

ER: Pre-match JBL hilariously and accurately rips apart the psychology of the match, saying "Why the hell would you ever tag yourself out!?" Yep, that's kind of why these matches are usually pretty stupid once you think about them for two seconds. Way to connect the dots for the blissfully ignorant. Cole desperately tries to explain why it might be good to tag out but since it is always a horrible idea, his explanation was really just stammering. I really dig Cody's gear, that red/gold/black combo looks really cool. Also really shocked at how over Damien Mizdow is. Was not expecting to hear a "We want Mizdow" chant. Good for him. Also love Goldust immediately tagging Mizdow out when he finally gets in.

Pretty sure none of the commentary crew can tell Los Matadores apart. Goldust was the easy highlight of this as he was able to make everybody look good, leaned way into the Usos hip strikes (I had written "leaned way into the Usos asses" but decided to change that a bit) and his offense looked consistently better than everybody else's. Miz still takes strikes like a guy who's suffered tons of concussions and is scared to get another one, as he actively leans out of all strikes while holding his hands out in front of his face. He made an Uso superkick land two feet in front of his face by jumping away from it so quickly. He's taken offense like this for the last 4 years. I dug Stardust's "Falling Star" tope en reverse. Kudos to Goldust for saving Torito from being on the bottom of a dive train dog pile. You can see Goldust lift him out of the way at the last second. Match was a pretty big mess and would have been much better with any of the team combos in just a normal tag match.

3. Divas Survivor Series Match

PAS: Wow this was given a bunch of time. Weird booking to have all of the heel eliminated and then have the heel champion fighting the odds. Man I don't watch most Diva matches, but they have some really nasty dangerous moves. What the hell was that released suplex Natayla did? JBL seemed like he was on the verge of burying this match like Mike Awesome v. Masato Tanaka.

MattD: Nattie looked like something out of the live action Masters of the Universe coming down. I saw Paige's great forearm and then had to deal with my wife freaking out about the winter storm we're getting on the I-95 corridor and explain to my Paige-pale 12 year old (as he played Minecraft) that no, he can't pull off calling people "sucka." He then explained to me that "Brotha' from another motha'" has become a very popular phrase. I'm sure somewhere Joel Gertner is proud. My feed froze during Summer being absolutely terrified at Naomi skidding across the ring towards her. I kind of wish I hadn't refreshed it after that.

The best part of this match was Paige repeatedly telling Summer she was an idiot, then trying to walk out in disgust. There were some decent enough exchanges in this but it was interminable. How did they give this thing so much time?

ER: I can safely say that I watch more Divas matches than any of the other Segunda Caiders. And I feel pretty safe saying that this is the best the division has ever been. I don't know this for sure but I wouldn't be surprised to find out that Finlay was working with them again. JBL namedropping Aja Kong as having the most dominating "diva" Survivor Series moment is pretty great. Even pronounces her name "Ah-zhya" and everything. Boy I was really surprised this got 15 minutes. I thought a lot of the divas looked good. I'm a big Naomi fan, her stuff always has a nice snap and she gets crazy height for her "Rear View" from a standing position. Loved her headscissors to a kneeling Paige, and loved how Paige whipped her head right into it. Smart move getting Cameron out of their early, and dug some of Summer Rae's front kicks and her splashes to Naomi's arm. Alicia Fox is one of the best divas singles match workers, even tag matches, but she seems to be not good in multi man matches for whatever reason. I'm not sure why. This match would make a really good clipped highlight video. There were tons of great individual moments. They did not add up to 15 minutes worth of good match.

4. Bray Wyatt vs. Dean Ambrose

MattD: In watching old PPVs on the network, I've come to appreciate these video recap segments before the matches so that you get some sense of the feud, but they're a pain in the neck to watch on a PPV you already "bought."

They started this exactly as they should, charging at each other. Ambrose's little rotation preventing himself from getting tossed back into the ring was great. I'm sure he's done that before but I don't remember it. Ambrose chasing Bray across the ring after his Raven pose was a great spot too, and they followed it up with the counter off the dive. Nice little tease before Wyatt really took over. The Vader Attack cutoff followed by how much impact they put into the double clothesline on the floor was all good stuff.

Good last third WWE match stretch, with both Ambrose and Wyatt throwing bombs, countering each other's token moves, and both of them paying for going up top. The standing elbow drop was something out of a badly programmed NES wrestling game but in the best way. The ending worked well enough. You knew we weren't going to get something clean since it was a start of a feud and this set up TLC nicely, and really, was just what Dean needed on this PPV by showing the crowd how he's NOT Cena.

PAS: I really liked this, just a nasty fight with both guys beating the shit out of each other. I loved all of the car crash spots as both guys were just colliding into each other with abandon. Dean's crazy dive off the apron was and although the Bray on the microphone was a bit hokey, it kind of worked for me. Finish wasn't the craziest bit of table work we have seen but the character stuff by Dean really made it. These guys could have a great TLC match I am really looking forward to it.

ER: So much good stuff in this. I was expecting a good match and they more than delivered. I think "unorthodox" might be the most overused term by WWE announcers. I think at this point they've called every worker unorthodox. I'm not sure who they think is orthodox. And while technically inaccurate, it's a shame Goldberg wasn't here during this period. Ambrose has been my absolute favorite wrestler this year and he really is the greatest possible version of Roddy Piper in They Live. They were just constantly slamming into each other during this and I expect they had a bet going to see who could dislocate both shoulders first. Every single exchange was just super violent and I have no clue how Ambrose has been relatively healthy his whole career. Seems like I always want to write the word "fling" when talking about Ambrose. It's really the only time I use it. I no longer have "flings" so the word is useless to me in that sense. But every Ambrose match I always end up talking about he just "flings" his whole damn body at his opponent. He really does, and it looks fabulous. I think we can definitively say that their double clothesline spot was the greatest iteration of that spot in wrestling history. Normally it's a spot that predictably defies physics, but here Bray charges at fairly full speed and both appear to try and clothesline each other as damn hard as possible. I'm surprised neither guy got their arm ripped off, like two drag racers getting too close and knocking each others mirrors off. I like how the rebound elbow really only works for Ambrose 2/3 of the time, it's fun in an "opponent scouted it" kind of way. Every shot in this match landed with a nice thud, all of the nasty clotheslines, all the elbows, Bray going forehead first into a chair on that DDT. Their strike exchanges look truly unique, not like two guys who mapped them out, but like two off balance guys trying to sneak shots in. Ending was flat but it kind of should have been since no man should get a leg up on the other yet. I loved all of this.

5. Adam Rose/Bunny vs. Heath Slater/Gator

PAS: I was really disappointed that Sting wasn't revealed as the Bunny

ER: Adam Rose does nothing for me. He comes off as a really embarrassing old guy trying to be cool, but it's some weird version of what WWE thinks is cool. I guess "cool" is pretty subjective, but whatever Rose is supposed to be doesn't strike me as cool, interesting, fun-loving, entertaining, whatever. I'm sure some people think eye liner and greying goatees are cool though. Bunny had a nice missile dropkick.

ER: Backstage HHH addresses his team and says that there are no other 5 guys that he would have on his team. Normally those kind of statements can pretty easily be shot full of holes, but in a kayfabe sense when you think of guys he had at his disposal, that statement seems pretty accurate.

6. AJ Lee vs. Niki Bella

PAS: I couldn't have taken another Diva's match so no beef with that.

ER: I thought this was an okay way to move the title off AJ. She doesn't lose too much luster as she basically got tricked, but at the same time Nikki comes off like she outsmarted using a weird tactic that AJ wouldn't have thought of. Nikki is a shockingly better wrestler than people give her credit for so I was actually looking forward to the match, but I got other shit to do tonight so I'm not complaining about this.

7. Team Cena v. Team Authority

PAS: Liked parts of this a lot. Was pretty amazed at how irrelevant Cena felt in this match. Obviously Ziggler was the focus of this match, but honestly Erik Rowen got more showcase moments then Cena. I have never been a big Ziggler fan, but this was a pretty great performance, big time main event matches make his kind of bumping and selling appropriate, in a way it always seemed silly in four minute Smackdown matches. I was a little bummed to see Henry go out so quickly, no problem with the quick KO f but Kane is right there to be out in 20 seconds. Also didn't they just do remorseful Big Show making a decision for his family a year ago? Mainly that whole sport entertainment finish with Sting took forever and felt like the early days of weekly TNA PPVs where they would do a surprise debut every show (It's Vader! It's Sandman! It's Fat Tony Schivonie in a T-Shirt.) Still this kind of match is a fun showcase for a lot of guys, and a good way to hide limited guys who can do a couple of things.

MattD: So, I was putting the toddler down during the last two matches and the tablet can't run the Network well; it can run YouTube though and I watched Funk vs Hansen from 1982 instead and I think it's safe to say it was a better use of my time.

It bugs me that Noble and Mercury's ties don't match. I spent the entire babyface entrance annoyed that Kane and Rusev weren't switched in place so it could be Rollins in the middle, the giants on the end, and the champs in the middle. I was disappointed when Steph and Triple H left the apron since I really hoped that they did the "someone tries to tag Steph" spot. I like Kane a whole 14% more than the next guy, but couldn't he have been the one to eat the KO punch instead of Henry? I for one am glad that Ryback's gear says "Then" and not "Than." like it did last week. They really couldn't find a better way to protect him?

The Show-in-Peril segment was really good, with the heels making quick tags well. I didn't like the one on Dolph as well; it seemed to drag to me, though the hope spot cut offs were all pretty enjoyable. Cena is a really poor man's Mizdow on the apron. i wonder if Mercury and Noble can hear the Vince-Yelling-At-The-Announcers feed through those gimmick earpieces. It all ended with Rusev power bombing Dolph onto everyone and I swear I thought he was about to follow it up with a dive. Instead he missed the splash on the table and Dolph KOing himself on the stairs was probably the most ridiculous thing on a night of ridiculous things.

I like how they teased Rowan vs Haper before letting it happen. Rowan against giants is great, both the dropkick he did to Show and the hanging sleeper he tried on Rowan. The single best thing Rollins does is come flying in off the side of the screen. He'd be a good mid-card trios match tecnico in Mexico.

And that's what they went with with Cena? Really? I guess that really running Dolph vs the World could make Dolph. They do it too, with it all culminating in the domino spot and Triple H really noticing Ziggler for the first time in years. It's obvious that the Armstrong Curse is what summoned Sting. And say what you will about over the hill Sting but that felt like only the third or fourth special moment WWE's had all year and I think it lived up to whatever possible hype they could have had for Sting. Rollins and Dolph are the real winners of the injury bug this year. Survivor Series matches have low ceilings and they're really about something other than star ratings and in that regard this delivered in the way they needed it to with the eyes on it.

ER: Analytically I like the Henry elimination, but as a guy actually watching the match I was hoping to see a LOT of Henry in this as I like him opposite all the members of Team Cena. Fun little Ryback run with Rollins taking a massive Eddie style backdrop into the ropes and Ryback doing an awesome delayed vertical suplex on Harper. It's pretty impressive how quickly Rusev has improved since being up on the main roster. I thought he looked pretty bad earlier in the year in the NXT I watched, and now he's a guy with tons of cool unique offense (love his axe kicks and knee lift varieties) who knows how to play to his strengths. The table spot was really fun and he really just dove into an empty pool on it.

I really liked Ziggler in this, and I really LOVED the final few minutes with Rollins/Ziggler. I can't always get into "athletic men wrestling athletically with athleticism" but that was a cool hot stretch. I love that Rowan got a great fired up run, sprinting all over and KOing dudes off the apron, big spin kick on Harper. Harper also came off like a star in this and it's cool to see a guy like him treated like a big deal. His dive always makes me flip out.

So that ending. I was into it. Loved the Ziggler/Rollins stuff, loved the falling dominoes Steph spot...and then Sting came out, and we had some silent staring, and the fans were way more into it than I would have guessed, and then eventually Ziggler gets the win. So....Ziggler and Rollins were just knocked unconscious for like 7 minutes!? Both of them were just lying there not moving, and then Sting put Ziggler's limp lifeless body on the also lifeless Rollins for the win. I must say that after 7 minutes without resuscitation it's quite possible that Rollins and Ziggler now will have pretty nasty brain damage to deal with. Pretty selfish, Sting. Your long entrance may have caused mild retardation in two of the most popular guys in WWE.

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

CMLL on LATV Workrate Report 7/20/14

And now one week later we flash back forward to shows from June. These matches were from the 6/15 Arena Mexico show. So the only real consistency with these LATV shows are that they're showing 2014 CMLL shows that took place on Sunday (whether that be at Coliseo or Arena Mexico). I won't complain too much as I like Kraneo showing up on my TV as often as possible, and him showing up on LATV means his match won't be edited.

1. Blue Panther, Stuka Jr. & Sagrado vs. Kraneo, Olimpico & Morphosis

Really good stuff and some match ups you don't see that often. This is a pretty fantastic Kraneo showcase that sees him do all sorts of cool stuff. Not just the nice bumps, but he's really good at incorporating his size into matches, without becoming some unwieldy object that people just have to work around. He brings a cool power element to things, completely obliterating people with shoulderblocks, first in the corner, other times using them to cut out offense out of nowhere. It's a cool element to bring when a tecnico is setting up a dive, and there's this unseen behemoth who can agilely burst onto the scene at any moment. He uses that same "out of nowhere" agility to break up a pin, running in with the biggest nastiest full weight senton you've seen in ages (poor Olimpico on the bottom of that mess). Panther and Olimpico start us off with cool mat stuff. A lot of it seemed Panther guided, like Olimpico taking him down by the wrist, but Panther really whipping himself into the mat. Stuka also hits an awesome dive on Kraneo at one point, just barreling into him headfirst and Kraneo is arguably the best catcher in the fed. He always stands his ground and absorbs all of a dive. This one is well worth checking out.

2. Virus vs. Fuego

This was a match where I seemed to be the only person who did not like it. Not just that, but most people (Phil included) praised it as one of the best lucha singles of 2014. Here were my original thoughts:

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

But I rewatched it, because it was on, and because I'm an open-minded guy. Whenever I differ from the consensus on something it doesn't bother me too much. Like a band that others don't? Not uncommon. Like a movie more or less than someone? Oh well, I like what I like when it comes to movies. And it's the same way with pro wrestling, except this time some of my absolute favorite wrestling minds (and Phil Schneider) all liked a match that I disliked. I wouldn't say that made me second guess myself, but it did make me curious to try and see things from a different perspective.

And I disliked it just as much as the previous viewing. All of the same complaints up above were still right there, with new ones that I guess I didn't notice on the first go 'round. This time I noticed even more of Virus' awesome matwork in the primera. He did one of the absolute coolest leg sweeps I've ever seen, sweeping around from his back and forcing Fuego's (who was standing) ankle painfully outward, until Fuego had to drop down to ease the pressure, which of course was exactly what Virus wanted. Virus continued to tear that leg apart. What I didn't remember was that leg work continuing on into the segunda, with Fuego doing a more than admirable job selling. Adding in a slight limp when moving around, clearly selling that leg.

Until the moment he needs to go back on offense and then all that leg work and all that selling goes away forever and we get zero call backs to it. I'd like to think I'm not a "convenient selling" Nazi, but when limb work takes up the bulk of a match and then vanishes as if it was a part of a different match then that's just sloppy. Not just that but he goes from non-stop leg injury, and the first moves he does right after he decided to not be bothered with that injury are all springboard moves. Just really rubbing in. The tercera was as bad as I remembered, with awful fatigue selling after every move. Fuego does a move, both men lie there tired and just stunned that it wasn't the move that ended things. Virus does a move, Fuego reacts the same. It's garbage. Even after things like roll ups and ranas. Just both men, heaving, going through a WAR, shocked a roll up didn't get the 3. I had to put it on 2x speed after awhile it was so bad.

I don't regret watching it again, as I was legit curious. But it stinks. Killer primera though.

3. Valiente, Atlantis & Marco Corleone vs. Ultimo Guerrero, Mr. Niebla & Niebla Roja

Fun match that only gets about 10 minutes, but that seemed like an appropriate amount for what we got.  It was best case scenario as it meant we got no down time and that guys that might need covering up didn't get exposed. Corleone got to punch people and flatten Roja with his crossbody, Valiente hit a brutal high speed dive on Niebla, Roja actually played off Corleone as his perfect foil, showing real promise as a rudo. Every spot opposite Marco always ended with the advantage, but Roja always got to mug and do things I always love in wrestling, like pointing to his head after momentarily foiling Marco.  UG looked like a badass leveling Valiente with a mean clothesline, crushing Atlantis with his headstand pendulum and mocking him after ripping his mask off to get DQ'd in the tercera. All fun stuff.

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Complete & Accurate Lucha Underground

Four shows in and this show has been very fun and easily digestible. I see no reason for Phil and I to stop reviewing the shows, so figured we might as well collect the reviews into one easy-to-reference page. Note: this page may cease to exist in a month when we're seeing Blue Demon vs. Vampiro vs. Konnan in a "Greatest Lucha Legend of All Time" feud., or Vince Russo comes in and fires up a couple of new incest angles.

Season 1

Episode 1: Welcome to the Temple (10/29/14)
Episode 2: Los Demonios (11/5/14)
Episode 3: Crossing the Border (11/12/14)
Episode 4: Thrill of the Hunt (11/19/14)
Episode 5: Boyle Heights Street Fight (11/26/14)
Episode 6: The Key (12/3/14)
Episode 7: The Top of the Ladder (12/10/14)
Episode 8: A Unique Opportunity (12/17/14)

Episode 9: Aztec Warfare (1/7/15)
Episode 10: Law of the Jungle (1/14/15)
Episode 11: Last Luchador Standing (1/21/15)
Episode 12: They Call Him Cage (1/28/15)
Episode 13: Johnny Mundo vs. The Machine (2/4/15)
Episode 14: A Shot of El Patron (2/11/15)
Episode 15: Eye for an Eye (2/18/15)
Episode 16: Caged Animals (2/25/15)
Episode 17: A War Started in Mexico... (3/4/15)
Episode 18: No Escape (3/11/15)
Episode 19: Grave Consequences (3/18/15)
Episode 20: The Art of War (3/25/15)
Episode 21: Uno! Dos! Tres! (4/1/15)
Episode 22: Mask versus Mask (4/8/15)
Episode 23: Fire in the Cosmos (4/15/15)
Episode 24: Trios Champions (4/22/15)
Episode 25: The Way of the Drago (4/29/15)
Episode 26: The Best in the Business (5/6/15)
Episode 27: Ancient Medallions (5/13/15)
Episode 28: Shoots and Ladders (5/20/15)
Episode 29: Fight to the Death (5/27/15)
Episode 30: Submit to the Master (6/3/15)
Episode 31: The Desolation of Drago (6/10/15)
Episode 32: All Night Long (6/17/15)
Episode 33: Death vs. The Dragon (6/24/15)
Episode 34: Gold and Guerreros (7/1/15)
Episode 35: Fuel to the Fire (7/8/15)
Episode 36: The Beginning of the End (7/15/15) 
Episode 37: PenUltimaLucha (7/22/15)
Episode 38: UltimaLucha - Part I (7/29/15)
Episode 39: UltimaLucha - Part II (8/5/15)

Season 2

Episode 1: A Much Darker Place (1/27/16)
Episode 2: The Dark & The Mysterious (2/3/16)
Episode 3: The Hunt is On... (2/10/16)
Episode 4: Cero Miedo (2/17/16)
Episode 5: The Machine (2/24/16)
Episode 6: Gift of the Gods Ladder Match (3/2/16)
Episode 7: Death Comes in Threes (3/9/16)
Episode 8: Life After Death (3/16/16)
Episode 9: Aztec Warfare II (3/23/16)
Episode 10: El Jefe is Back (3/30/16)
Episode 11: Bird of War (4/6/16)
Episode 12: Three's a Crowd (4/13/16)
Episode 13: Monster Meets Monster (4/20/16)
Episode 14: Cage in a Cage (4/27/16)
Episode 15: No Mas (5/4/16)
Episode 16: Graver Consequences (5/11/16)
Episode 17: Crime & Punishment (5/18/16)
Episode 18: Enter the Mundo (5/25/16)
Episode 19: Judgment Day (6/1/16)
Episode 20: The Contenders (6/8/16)
Episode 21: Six to Survive (6/15/16)
Episode 22: Fame & Fortune (6/22/16)
Episode 23: The Phoenix, the Dragon, and the Spaceman (6/29/16)
Episode 24: Ultima Lucha Dos - Part I (7/6/16)
Episode 25: Ultima Lucha Dos - Part II (7/13/16)
Episode 26: Ultima Lucha Dos - Part III (7/20/16)

Season 3

Episode 1: Wheel of Misfortune (9/7/16)
Episode 2: The Amulet (9/14/16)
Episode 3: Ultimate Opportunities (9/21/16)
Episode 4: Brothers in Broken Arms (9/28/16)
Episode 5: The Prince and The Monster (10/5/16)
Episode 6: The Open Road to Revenge (10/12/16)
Episode 7: Payback Time (10/19/16)
Episode 8: Gift of the Gods (10/26/16)
Episode 9: Loser Leaves Lucha (11/2/16)
Episode 10: Ready for War (11/9/16)
Episode 11: Aztec Warfare III (11/16/16)
Episode 12: Every Woman is Sexy, Every Woman is a Star (11/23/16)
Episode 13: Breaker of Bones (11/30/16)
Episode 14: The Bulls of Boyle Heights (12/7/16)
Episode 15: En La Sombras (12/14/16)
Episode 16: The Battle of the Bulls (12/21/16)
Episode 17: The Gauntlet (12/28/16)
Episode 18: Evil Rising (1/4/17)
Episode 19: Gods Among Men (1/11/17)

Episode 20: All Night Long...Again (5/31/17)
Episode 21: Sudden Death (6/7/17)
Episode 22: The Cup Begins (6/14/17)


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Friday, November 21, 2014

MLJ: 2010: Mistico Interlude 1: Brazo de Plata, La Máscara, Místico vs Atlantis, Rey Bucanero, Último Guerrero

Taped 2010-01-06 @ Arena Coliseo
Brazo de Plata, La Máscara, Místico vs Atlantis, Rey Bucanero, Último Guerrero

5:50 in.

Part 2: http://youtu.be/jsWbWKiB4tE
Part 3: http://youtu.be/u017Ahyg8RU
Part 4: http://youtu.be/5OIx4E6Piz8

Full disclosure: I probably didn't have to go back this far for Mistico. This match set up a singles with Rey Bucanero in Guadalajara and has nothing to do with his turn. It's not even a good match to see the signs for such a thing, because as I've learned with the Rush vs Casas series, things that happen outside of Arena Mexico often times work on a different level or slightly tangential way. If Mistico was starting to show rudo tendencies in Arena Mexico, there's no reason to think he was necessarily doing it here as well.

So why am I watching this? Mainly because I spent a lot of time with Los Guerreros del Atlantida earlier this year and the idea to check in with what I see as a pretty prime roster of theirs, a few years later, was too good to pass up. Even that's a little silly because I have a match with them from March, 2010 upcoming in the Garza-watch, but this one led to a singles with Rey Bucanero and Mistico and that was something I was curious to see. As always, bear with me.

In general, I'm kind of amazed Atlantis was still a rudo. He was one all the awy into the middle of 2011 too. I just can't see how the act could still have steam. Rey rejoined them in 2008, which is sort of just depressing when you think about it. There was a sort of populist bandit feel to them in 2006, but I don't see any of that in 2010. That said, they were still great professionals who really knew their way around a trios match. This was enjoyably competent for something so disposable (which sounds like faint praise, but like I've said before, I can watch matches like this all day).

Rey was especially impressive in his heeling. This was to set up a singles match, of course, so a lot of the build was in Rey keeping away from Mistico. They started early on with Rey looking like he was going to enter the match to face off with Mascara, but rushing across the ring to cheapshot Mistico on the apron instead, before ducking back out. Later in the primera, when it looked like they'd actually face off, the rudos used it as a chance to charge the ring and start the beat down and take the fall. They didn't really face off until the tercera, and even then, while Mistico got the advantage, it was still a tease for the eventual singles match, and a fairly well done one at that.

Past that, the rest of the luchadors involved pretty much held up their part. UG worked well with Porky to start the match, giving him a ton like a total pro and getting to slam him later on. Atlantis led Mascara around the ring, and to his credit, Mascara was getting some chants and looked good in the primera, though he was far more hit or miss in the tercera, where he got to do some more showy stuff. Mistico was pure tecnico and the crowd was into him.

The match was a basic B-A-C, with the tecnicos having the advantage in the tercera after the reset but getting cutoff before their dives to keep things moving. The transition in the segunda was clever and the sort of thing that GdI pull off very well. They had done a little rope running spot where UG dropped down and Rey and Atlantis flipped Mascara into this crazy facebuster. Then they teased it on Porky, but he just splatted onto the dropped down UG as Mistico and Mascara flew in with arm drags. Clever spot and great use of Porky. All in all a fun match which could have used just a little more payoff but it accomplished what it set out to do by not having it.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Lucha Underground Episode 4: Thrill of the Hunt Workrate Report

1. Sexy Star vs. Ivelisse

ER: Based on Star's pre-match promo it sure looks like they're setting up a huge Chavo/Star blowoff which is one of the things I'd be least interested in seeing. She even said she'd be getting vengeance for what Chavo did to Blue Demon and Mascarita Sagrada. Really, the woman who lost to M-Dogg 20 in 90 seconds is going to be the angel of vengeance, taking down Chavo? Hmmm. Vampiro and Striker call this match "anti-diva" which is a bit rich as I think the divas division is arguably the most talented it's ever been right now. I don't think Lucha Underground should be openly inviting comparison to WWE. Just do your own thing, people will notice if it's better or not. Match itself was weird, as they were doing stuff, but it didn't really move me at all. I really liked some of Ivelisse's stuff here. I haven't seen much of her since she was on Tough Enough, but she added a lot of nice little ticks to the match, like rubbing out her chin after taking a drop toe hold. Sexy Star has not done a ton for me so far in these episodes. The crowd seems into her so that's good, but I wonder if at some point they start thinking they backed the wrong horse.

PAS: Not much of a match, parts looked ok, but other stuff looked like pre-Finlay training WWE women's matches. I really like what they have done with rudo Chavo so far, and an inter-gender feud with Sexy Star is one of the least interesting directions it can go in. I am with Eric on the stupidity of the "anti-diva" comment, especially because it was followed with Striker saying something like "don't expect to see a lot of armdrags and takedowns here, this is going to be a lot of slapping and hair pulling".

2. Pentagon Jr. v. Fenix

PAS: Mixed bag match, this is similar to the three way match, as we just had a bunch of crazy spots one after another. I would have liked to see Pentagon try to slow this down a bit in parts, a little more brawling or grappling would have made the bigger spots look bigger. It need some valleys to go along with the peaks. I also thought some of the kicks looked bad, either connect better or do a different move. Although I did think Fenix's jumping enzigiri was pretty cool.

ER: Pretty much what I imagine most people expected to see: A whole bunch of stuff that looked cool, and a whole bunch of stuff in between that awkwardly got them into position to do stuff that looked cool. The cool stuff did look really cool though. That counts for a helluva lot in this type of match. I wouldn't really care about 15 minutes of this, but 5 minutes of it is plenty entertaining and again, the exact type of thing they should be putting on TV every week to set themselves apart. I agree with Phil that it would have been nice to see Pentagon try and be a rudo more, especially considering his rudo pre-match promo. He does the promo, but really didn't work any differently than Fenix except that he was a base more often. Again though, these guys do a lot of cool stuff, and it was supposed to be 5 minutes of cool stuff. Points.

PAS: Thought the King Cuerno vignette was pretty great. They are just killing it with the intro vignette's, really the thing about the promotion which is just head and shoulders over anywhere else in wrestling. I hope we get one for Fenix, Drago, and Pentagon Jr. at some point, as their lack of character development is really lacking compared to everyone else in this fed at this point. Not a ton Dario this week although I did like his interaction with creepy Drago here, that tongue is awesome looking.

ER: Gotta second the love for both the vignettes which really are on just another level, and Drago's look. When I found out they were using the generic name "Drago" instead of the awesome name of Gato Everready I was against it, but the guy looks cool. He looks like a Guillermo Del Toro creation, which is pretty perfect for the El Rey network.

3. King Cuerno v. Drago

PAS: My favorite match on the show, Cuerno was doing what I wanted Pentagon to, slowing down the match so Drago's big moments had more of an impact. I also thought his stuff was pretty violent, and the tope was awesome looking. Liked the finish with the arrogant hunter getting caught posing, that flippy cradle Drago used ruled. A little short, but I hope this feud continues.

ER: Cuerno is Hijo Del Fantasma, who I haven't seen since he left CMLL. This match was really fun and it left me wanting much more from each guy. Cuerno had some cool stuff including leveling Drago with a big fast tope. His strikes looked really nice too which was a nice change from the previous match. I actually liked how Cuerno didn't bump for an early fast headscissors, just staying on his feet and shaking his head. Don't need it as a regular spot but I thought it was a unique way to establish the size advantage. Drago has dizzying speed and it was really on display here. Loved all his roll throughs on things and his big bumps. Loved how he stood his ground before getting blasted by that tope. He wasn't afraid to lean into any of Cuerno's strikes. Both guys came off really well here.

4. Johnny Mundo v. Big Ryck

PAS: I didn't like how Striker came out and called Ryck Suge Knight, you didn't see Gorilla Monsoon talk about how Razor Ramon was "just like Scarface", an homage is an homage only as long as it unstated. I thought Mundo did a fine job bumping around a big guy, but Ryck was worse then I remember him back in WWECW, some stuff looked stiff, but other stuff looked pretty loose. He looks awesome but they probably would have been better off with Uhaa Nation or No Limit Soldiers 4x4 in that role.

ER: Really wish they could have found something cooler for Ryck to wear than old sweat shorts and generic knee pads. I could see him pulling off a Big Bubba Rogers slacks-and-button-up looks in the ring. I thought Ryck looked better here than…well, most people commenting on the internet it would seem. He always had a nice shoulderblock and he breaks that out here, and Morrison is a guy who also makes shoulder blocks look good. Also dug the cravate he used here. Still the match kinda looked like it was waiting around for the run-in and sure enough that's what happened. Love Phil bringing up 4x4 as I always got sick joy out of seeing him in WCW. He had such an absurd build as he was 5'10" but like 400 lb., all in the arms and chest, and he always wore this spaghetti strap camouflage tank top that was so stretched that it always looked like a tube top. I really loved that one match he had against Knobbs where Knobbs blindsides him to start the match and then just stiffs him for 90 seconds before a run in.


LUCHA UNDERGROUND MASTER LIST



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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

2014 Ongoing Match of the Year List



48. Yuki Ishikawa v. Sansyu -BattleArts Academy 11/14

PAS: This is our first look at Yuki Ishikawa since he moved to Canada to teach at Santino's wrestling school. This is clearly one of his students, and he is pretty giving. Ishikawa is one of the great sellers in wrestling history and he does a bang up job putting over this kids kicks, which won't remind anyone of Ikeda anytime soon. The highlights of the match are definitely when Ishikawa starts really working Sanysu over, dropping knees on his temple and elbows on his throat. The finishing scramble on the mat was a thing of beauty as well. Rest of this match was Ishikawa eating a lot of questionable stuff, which kept it from being high end, still so happy to see Yuki show up again, now someone needs to book him against the Gulak/Thatcher/Busick/Sabre Jr. group.

ER: Well this was a pleasant little surprise. Luckily Phil obsessively searches for Yuki Ishikawa stuff on youtube a few times a week so we get to see it ridiculously soon after it happens. The couple Ishikawa matches that show up every year are always awesome, but I think here is the best he's looked in years. Who knows, maybe Canadian living has healed him up a bit? Have some delicious ketchup chips and a Coffee Crisp, not get head butted into incontinence. He seemed spry, more in shape than I've seen him in ages, showed more speed than he's shown in ages, all his sprawls and everything looked so quick and agile. Being broken has kind of been a part of his character in FUTEN and other stuff and he made broken crafty vet work better than all but maybe Fujiwara. But here he was lithe and aggressive. Sansyu was fine, I didn't think he was bad, although yes his kicks were not up to normal Batt/FUTEN standards, but they still looked fine and Ishikawa always makes that stuff look great anyway, bouncing back into the ropes and crumbling at the right times. Ishikawa made them look good and Sansyu also brought a nice twisty legbar to the match. But damn Ishikawa was just great. At one point he hits this great three elbow combination that I've never seen him use before. He drops Sansyu with a brutal 12 to 6, plants a nasty quick elbowdrop, and then gets back up and drops a Bret Hart style double elbow on him. All his arm stuff looks really great, yanking that arm and knowing right where Sansyu is gonna twist to escape, Ishikawa one step ahead of him. The keylock he locks on before the end is just too good. I enjoy Yuki Ishikawa wrestling.


2014 MASTER LIST

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

MLJ: 2010: A Garza Odyssey 4: Héctor Garza, Último Guerrero, Volador Jr. vs La Máscara, Místico, Negro Casas

Taped 2010-02-19 @ Arena México
Héctor Garza, Último Guerrero, Volador Jr. vs La Máscara, Místico, Negro Casas



"Relevos Increibles" = A match where people cross political, cultural, and religious lines, solely because they want to beat up Volador, Jr. so badly.

It's nice to see some things haven't changed in almost five years. This was enjoyable chaos, and actually, quite a bit of a surprise. I think I had read somewhere that Mistico had tinkered with a few rudo mannerisms at one point, but I hadn't realized it'd gone so far. When a luchador sports an evil black version of his gear, that's a good sign that his name ought to be in red.

Like many matches I've seen this year, this one was full of great talent and Mascara. Garza and Guerrero had been feuding but that only came into play towards the end of the tercera where Garza missed the top rope to floor moonsault and hit him by mistake. If it led to some sort of brawling or animosity after the fact, I didn't see it as that was the ring-clearer to set up the finish. This was another trios match where Casas was completely forgettable. I've seen way too many of those for my liking when it comes to things like PWO's Greatest of All Time polls. Oh wait, that's not totally true. After taking the segunda with a Casita, he did a few very Randy Orton-ish cartwheels. Mascara, to his credit, didn't do anything egregious. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing, because while it was fine in the match it didn't make me feel very positive about his improvement over these years. Garza definitely adds something to matches like this between his reactions and his athleticism.

This was really a tale of two matches. Mistico and Volador went at it for most of the match, from the opening beatdown on the ramp where Sombra came out to help Mistico, to interludes in between all the rest of the action. It's very distinctly structured. In the primera, Volador finally came back and hit Mistico with a tope con giro (I think), which cleared them out of the ring so that they could rush to the finish (a pretty cool alley oop into a top rope rana where UG propelled Garza to the top). In the segunda, it was more brawling and sequence (which varied from excellent to sloppy) from Mistico and Volador until Mistico hit a tope suicida to again clear them from the ring so that Mascara and Casas can pick up the fall. It was a fun little paralleled structure. In the tercera, there was a lot of everyone vs everyone until Garza took out Guerrero, as previously mentioned, and they tied Volador to the rope and beat on him to draw the DQ.

I'm lacking context (more on that later) but it as pretty clear to me that the point of this match was to get over rudo Mistico. He had the Sombra assisted beat down from the get go. Between caidas, he ripped up the sign that the ring girl was walking down with, which is something I've never actually seen before. The match ended with him both assaulting a tied up Volador and beating up the referee when he tried to stop him. It was all pretty surreal. I've seen rudo Santo, of course, but that never seemed all that far gone, and rudo Atlantis always had this clownish undertone. Mistico reminded me a lot more of current Rush actually, the difference being just how beloved he had been as a tecnico for years. He drew a chant in every match I saw him in back in 2006. I guess a match like this was sort of necessary if they really wanted him to succeed as a rudo.

You know what? This was jarring enough that I'm going to make my first deviation from the 2010 Garzathon (earlier than expected) and go back to watch the matches that I think have the turn, and maybe one or two before that to see where the wind was leaning. This match itself was worth watching, both for the surreality and to see how they weaved the Mistico vs Volador sections in and out.

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