Segunda Caida

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

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

MLJ: 2010: A Garza Odyssey 11: Terrible, Texano Jr., Vangelis vs Héctor Garza, Hijo del Fantasma, La Máscara

Taped 2010-04-09 @ Arena México
Terrible, Texano Jr., Vangelis vs Héctor Garza, Hijo del Fantasma, La Máscara

7:40 in

Alright, now we're in business. The Garza/Porky interaction from before was actually broader foreshadowing. Our friend Hector is in the midst of his rudo turn. You wouldn't have known it from what I've seen so far in 2010 but Garza, Fantasma, and Mascara were trios champions and had been off and on for a couple of years. There is dissension in the ranks here though and it's a lovely thing.

I hadn't seen a lot of Vangelis either. He's got a nazi gimmick which is always charming in this day and age. Apparently he won the Busca de un Idolo last year, which is on the one hand baffling and on the other pure CMLL. That said, he did fit in pretty well with Texano and Terrible who were great foils for bickering tecnicos since they had the ability to get straight to the point with an opportunistic and immediate beatdown when necessary. I've liked what I've seen out of them a lot so far and if we weren't right on the verge of the Garza turn I might veer off to see more.

The primera was made up of a few solid exchanges with the dissention storyline leading into the start of the beatdown. Fantasma was good at what he did; here it was some nice, physical matwork with Texano. Vangelis and Mascara held up their own too, though parts of it seemed a little too collaborative and rushed (to get to the next spot) which was definitely a problem of Mascara's from this period. Garza came in and immediately looked like a star. He was shoved out by Terrible, hugged a granny in the front row before coming back in and took right over. Then he did the handstop/strip to Texano and Vangelis before ultimately being pushed into Commandate on the apron who he kissed. It was Garza vs the World and he was doing fine. Fantasma didn't think so, however, and he rushed in to even odds with a superkick. This pissed Garza off and he shoved his partner which let the rudos take over. They hit a big flipping facebuster and then a nasty dropkick out of a wheelbarrow position to crush the tecnicos, finally finishing off Mascara with an assisted inverted surfboard. All good stuff.

This ended up only going two caidas, since the period where the tecnicos would have taken a fall was used up by infighting to get the story across. The beatdown was quite short but it involved a lot of biting and swarming that had enough intensity behind it to get across the idea well enough. Texano and Terrible could make a decent amount out of a little. Finally, though Garza backflipped off the ropes and the tecnicos started to fight back. This was punctuated by Fantasma using the ramp to leap into the ring with a shoulder block. After that came the complaining with Mascara as peace maker. Trios matches are pretty predictable in that when a fall doesn't come at a certain point, the opportunity is missed. It's not hard to tell when something's going to go only two falls because of the timing. This was not ending well for the tecnicos.

And, of course, it didn't. They veered into a reset with broader exchanges. Most of them were pretty good but Mascara's quebadora sure needed work. Again, I thought Fantasma looked good. I'm not sure how he is in 2014 but unless he's deteriorated considerably then CMLL would have been better off to find a way to keep both him and Texano. Ah well. They go through the pairings until Garza accidentally kicked Mascara (from what I can tell this was a callback to a trios match we don't have where he thought he was attacked by one of his partners). Fantasma helped Mascara recover and they hit double dropkicks and then topes leaving Garza with Vangelis. Garza got the better of it, hit his moonsault press for two, and then locked in a grab but Fantasma and Mascara came in to complain and duly got rolled up from behind as Garza shrugged and did his pray taunt in the corner. Post match, they argued, Garza left, and then remaining tecnicos got ambushed by the rudos. More of an angle than a complete match but it was enough of a match to make for an enjoyable angle, if that makes sense. I am ready for this turn.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 Ongoing Match of the Year List

26. Rey Hechicero v. Black Terry Chilanga Mask 11/23

PAS: Man I love the Hechicero indy tour, he is so versatile and this is the kind of grimey brawl he isn't going to have a chance to do in CMLL. We have some very wrenching and aggressive mat work to start the match before all hell breaks loose. There is some great around the ring brawling including Terry chucking a case of beer bottles at Hechicero's head and Hechicero responding by throwing chairs around and tossing Terry roughly into fans. We also got some of Terry's vicious headbutts which as long as FUTEN is MIA are the nastiest in wrestling. Kind of a goofus ending as Guerrero Maya Jr. runs in wearing a ski mask and attacks Terry before accidentally chairshotting Hechicero. After all of the violence that kind of banana peel finish is weak sauce. Still well worth throwing Black Terry Jr. a couple of bucks to check out

ER: This match kept dragging me in and by the end felt like a real war with both guys trying anything to put the other down…and then it was like Godard decided to end Breathless with a fart joke (and not even a good fart joke). Great match/bad finish is maybe the most consistently frustrating things in pro wrestling. Imagine how we would have felt if Black Terry Jr.'s battery had died around the 15 minute mark. It would be the same way we felt about all those JIP New Japan matches in the 90s. What treasures could possibly be contained in the first several minutes of these juniors classics!? Yeah, we later all found out that it was just guys lying around in legbars for those several minutes. It was better not to know. Well, here we know so we may as well just focus on the positive because the positives are REALLY great. The work here was awesome. Hechicero is the best wrestler in the world in 2014. I waffled between him and Ambrose but this recent handheld run has really showcased Hechicero's versatility. He can work main event style, he can brawl, he can go on the mat, he finds neat new ways to do his signature stuff, and he always brings unexpected things to matches. The match was fun before the crowd brawling. I loved Hechicero actually being the first person in wrestling history to make a freaking ROLLING CRADLE look awesome. Match was kind worth the money just for that alone, taking a simple hooked leg and cradled neck pinfall, then using his .7 Backlund strength to hold the pin, roll through and try again. It looked great. Then we roll to the floor and they do an amusing tour through the front row. It really felt like they were two close-up magicians and letting all the people in the front in on their trade, which involved punching and head butting each other. Things get amazing when Terry throws a freaking box of empty beer bottles at Hechicero's head, and Hechicero flings Terry into fans, using a couple guys as support to prop Terry up to nail him with shoulders to the gut. Hechicero also slings chairs with the accuracy of Necro Butcher, with an incredible visual of Terry falling between folding chairs while trying to shield himself from those flying at him. All in all, this match was awesome…right up until the moment that it wasn't. Just pretend that battery ran out.


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Monday, December 29, 2014

MLJ: Cavernario Spotlight 8: Esfinge, Gallo, Tritón vs Bárbaro Cavernario, Nitro, Nosferatu

Aired 2014-01-04
taped 2013-12-25 @ Arena Coliseo Guadalajara
Esfinge, Gallo, Tritón vs Bárbaro Cavernario, Nitro, Nosferatu

I like this because it sort of takes me full circle. Some of those early Cavernario matches were with Esfinge and Gallo and we're back to them. This reminded me of a lot of similar matches I've sen lately. There was a lot of good stuff here but some of the execution was off. Usually, though there's a bit of a balance. If the execution is off, it'll be off the whole match but the level is about equal so it doesn't actually hurt things too much. Basically, you know what you're getting. Here, though, they started strong, had a strong middle, but then sort of fell apart by the end due primarily to basic talent levels and maybe getting a bit overexcited or blown up.

Lots of good matwork to begin, surprisingly good really. I liked Nosferatu (who, if not new to me, is someone I've only seen once or twice) and Esfinge's exchange since they started with some more basic work, a top wristlock test of strength and even rolling around on the ring a bit in a front facelock. It was basic but well worked and sort of stood out in context since you don't always see such things in lucha. Then Cavernario and Triton came in and did much higher level work; it felt a lot like a shooty exhibition of grabbing legs and finding escapes. My only problem with it was that it didn't quite escalate the way I wanted.

Nitro and Gallo was a bit more high impact, a bit less smooth. Gallo really feels like the sort of local hero you'd get on an indy show in the US. The crowd is into him and he'll puff up (pun intended, but it's true!) to make sure he gets every little bit he can out of it. The transition was great. He knocked Nitro out and went for a tope but Nosferatu dropkicked him from the apron as his head went out between the ropes. Then the swarm began.

This had a very good beatdown that felt like it got a couple of extra minutes and used them well. The rudos were showing off and posturing and having fun while beating the crap out of the tecnicos. There was a lot of clowning the tecnicos, be it by offering a handshake and a hug before ambushing or faking a foul to get a moment's distraction (even when they didn't need it) before ambushing. It was fun and by the end of it, the tecnicos didn't even know which way to look when they came in. Eventually Nitro powerbombed gallo and put on a crab/arm pull(that probably has a name too) for the caida. They'd continue on into the segunda, really controlling the flow and the match. Gallo tried to fight back but got pushed down. Esfinge would try to dropkick in but miss. Eventually Esfinge flipped over on a corner toss and ducked out of an attempt to hold and hit him allowing Triton to fly in with a rana and a pin and Esfinge himself to springboard back in with a splash (as Gallo heroically chased the retreating Nitro) for the segunda.

Unfortunately, it all fell apart after the comeback. To be fair, I thought Cavernario looked pretty good. Cavernario's highlights were dodging a backflip off the rope with perfect timing, taking soem dubious offense from Triton very well, and managing to end up first stuck in the ropes for a nasty sliding dropkick and then through them in a great Hamrick bump before he caught a nice Asai Moonsault by Triton. Unfortunately, no one else looked good. There were some rough rope running segments, some really dubious and barely hit armdrags, and a brutally botched roll up by Gallo and Nitro. It's a shame too because I was feeling it.

I'm going to go away from Cavernario for a while now. My biggest takeaway from these matches, however, is that he was really quite good, even a few years back. There were some things that he still did that needed work; for instance, he'd have great mat exchanges that didn't really build to a resolution or the chop exchanges that were sometimes there for the sake of it, but he was such an enjoyable part of a lot of these matches. He played his character so well and brought a lot of color to trios where it was really needed. I think he was ready to explode and I'm glad that he ended up with the opportunity to.

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Sunday, December 28, 2014

CMLL Workrate Round Up 7/6/14, 2/9/14, 1/19/14

So I got a lot of things on the back burner wrestling-wise, that should be bumped up to the front burner. I watch lucha more than any other kind of wrestling, but I got to the point where I realized I probably don't need to write about EVERY single lucha match that I watch. I watch plenty of CMLL. How many different things can I really write about a Corleone match or a blown up Shocker performance or a perfectly horrible Volador Jr. main event or a perfectly fine Maximo performance. So I'm gonna combine all the CMLL I watch into more concise write-ups, skipping over the stuff that doesn't need to be written about, writing up in depth the stuff that deserves it, dumping on the stuff that is notably horrible. This will leave more time for other cool stuff, give a little more variety to the blog, and avoid pointless burnout. C'est la vie!

1. Misterioso Jr., Metalico & Bobby Zavala vs. Rey Cometa, Oro Jr., Sagrado (7/6/14)

Great energy here and a nice little rudo showcase. The tecnicos kind of got steamrolled a bit but Misterioso is always a fun rudo when he gets the chance to be. Bobby Zavala has the same kind of unwitting douche charisma as Rush, and Metalico was a fun little bulldog going after Oro. Sagrado is almost always bad and this was no different. What a total long term dud. Every move always misses by just enough with him. Every moonsault gets slightly overshot, can't do painful looking submissions, and can't hold himself into others' submissions. Just a total zero. It was nice seeing Metalico punch him in the jaw a few times. We get several really nice dives in this, with one of them sending Zavala right into a mom and daughter and flattening them in the front row. It let to a incredibly smart (planned?) ending as Rey Cometa has an oh shit moment and is instantly down on his hands and knees apologizing to the women, and back in the ring moments later Sagrado gets submitted handing Cometa's team the loss. Metalico has developed a nice little undercard vicious streak, loved him ripping Oro down off the ropes in the middle of a moonsault attempt. Real fun stuff.

2. Euforia, Okumura & Kamaitachi vs. Guerrero Maya Jr., Atlantis & Delta (7/6/14)

Kamaitachi is showing himself to be a valuable add. Loved how hard he went after Delta in this. I've said it before but he seems like he really enjoys the lucha crowd atmosphere, really seems excited to be there, gets dumped on his head off a clothesline. Maya hits his nice dive past the turnbuckles, Euforia has a kind of lazy night for him, Okumura hits a mean missile dropkick to Delta's face for the win. Atlantis was having a very "Atlantis in a trios" performance until he went on a spirited run opposite Euforia that ended in a capable old man dive.

3. Lightning Match: Bobby Zavala vs. Super Halcon Jr. (2/9/14)

Well hey, this was pretty good! You remember Super Halcon from being the worst guy in the Busca de un Idolo. Here he looks pretty good! They work a tight and smart little 6 minute match with Halcon hitting a big flip dive and nice tope, and Zavala taking advantage of Halcon going for high risk stuff. For every big move Halcon did that worked, the next one would see him taking boots to the face or stomach. He crumpled fantastically on a moonsault-to-boots off the top, and Zavala nicely timed a dropkick to Halcon's stomach off a springboard. Zavala also hit a bunch of stiff clotheslines. Zavala has a sturdy build and does great clotheslines and shoulder blocks the way a guy with a sturdy build should.

4. Atlantis vs. Mr. Niebla (1/19/14)

Man, fun and spirited Niebla really makes you realize what a crap bag that can be in trios matches. I really dug this; both guys worked hard and this was a fun old guy sprint. Niebla took a bunch of big bumps off of simple Atlantis stuff, really whipping himself into the mat of dropkicks and quebradoras, getting crotched on the top turnbuckle violently in the tercera and taking a painful bump to the floor. It was real impressive how quickly both men worked, even though the match went a decent length. Really made things seem more immediate. Atlantis wins the first with a smooth roll up, Niebla wins the second while holding the ropes. The ropes holding turns out to be his undoing as he keeps trying to end it the same way in the third and keeps getting caught. Finish is odd and funny, as both men resort to cheating at the exact same moment, with Atlantis' cheating being more violent and thus more effective: Niebla swipes Atlantis mask off at the same time Atlantis punts him in the balls. Ballshot gets the win. Fans in the crowd yell things at Atlantis that get blurred out. These two matched up again a few months later and that match wasn't very good. This one is definitely worth watching.

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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Pro Wrestling Revolution Workrate Report 12/20/14

The matches from this episode were from the 6/8/14 show in Watsonville, CA which actually looked kind of stacked. Pirata Morgan was in the main event (against Blue Demon) and I'm very interested in seeing 2014 Morgan in a podunk CA town so hopefully that gets aired at some point. Show also had a mask vs. hair match and some other interesting sounding stuff. They've been good about showing new things so hopefully we get to see the complete show over the next few weeks.

1. Timothy Thatcher vs. El Pistolero

Well shoot, I can't complain too much about a fed who's putting a Thatcher match on Saturday morning television for all to see. Maybe it's possible that some young child will be skipping through TV channels, come across Thatcher stomping the life out of someone's arm and think, "Hey, wrestling is cool!" But that won't happen because ugh kids these days am I right? With their tablet devices and Nintendo Power Gloves. This match was mostly a Thatcher showcase, with a short fun comeback burst from Pistolero. So you got to see a bunch of cool Thatcher stuff that you love to watch in Thatcher matches. He doesn't always do things the same way, and he doesn't do things in a similar order, so they're always a treat. You know you're getting some nasty uppercuts, you know you're getting some arm work, and you know you're going to enjoy it. His arm stuff is always cool and I never get tired of seeing him bend somebody's wrist in different directions, hold down somebody's arm with his boot while he twists their ankle, stomp on somebody's hand if they are on the mat for too long. He does some awesome stuff here on the mat that's unique and logical. He crawls all around Pistolero while always keeping some sort of pressure on some tender area. Working on the arm he digs his knees into Pistolero's back as he transitions to another limb. It's stuff I haven't seen somebody else do, and I loved seeing it used here. Pistoleror's comeback is fun as he gets to blast Thatcher with some forearms and a leaping elbow, but Thatcher catches him quickly and puts him down with a Fujiwara. Note: Probably a bad idea to go into a Thatcher match with your arm already wrapped. It's like showing up to an orgy already naked. It's something that's going to happen anyway, but we prefer that it happens organically.

2. Kikyo Nakamura vs. "La Diamante Negra" Kianna Rivera

These were two women I've never seen before, who I'd like to see again some time. Match was short but both showed promise. Nakamura is a large woman who tries to work like Aja Kong, and I will never criticize a gal for that. She doesn't have the stiffness or bulldozer mentality of Aja, but she has size and attitude and is willing to take some shots. She could be one to watch. Rivera had some cool running kicks and was an easy face to get behind, so while this was probably a standard touring match or practice match for them it was still plenty fun for a 5 minute match.

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Friday, December 26, 2014

MLJ: 2010: A Garza Odyssey 10: Héctor Garza, Hijo del Fantasma, La Máscara vs Taichi, Terrible, Texano Jr.

Taped 2010-04-02 @ Arena México
Héctor Garza, Hijo del Fantasma, La Máscara vs Taichi, Terrible, Texano Jr.

2 mins in

Ok, I'll admit it. There are probably better ways to watch lucha. Maybe I should just be watching a number of apuestas matches and the few weeks leading up to them. Or I should find the most critically acclaimed stuff, or something extremely topical. Or every Negro Navarro match ever. What can't be understated, however, is just how little I knew coming into this project when I started back in April. A number of people have been a big help in suggesting matches or clarifying things to me, but I'm still feeling things out. Going through a year, week by week, helps me see a lot of different things. I'm bound somewhat by the footage available online and then somewhat by having an entry point, or a control. Here it's Garza. I could have used Ultimo Guerrero or Mistico or Casas just as easily. I wanted someone I was a little bit familiar with, but hadn't seen that much of, and I knew his rudo run from later in the year seemed interesting. Mainly, I wanted to see what CMLL looked like in 2010 and to be exposed to a lot of luchadors I hadn't seen much of or any at all. That said, I'm probably going to try to stack the deck by phasing out Cavernario on Monday and phasing in either Hechicero or Virus. We'll see.

For now, this is a great way for me to see more Terrible and Texano, who had a hugely entertaining act. It lets me see some Hijo Del Fantasma too, who seemed more than competent. I love the gimmick. It feels very detached from its comic strip roots. Instead, he seems to be over for being his father's son and that legacy means more than the particular gimmick. That, kind of ironically, actually sort of plays into the Phantom's own generational mythos.  I have no idea if that resonates with fans or not.

One major change between then and now are the fans. This is a few years after the hottest period as best as I can tell but there seemed to be a much larger tecnico following. In this match Mascara and Fantasma both received chants (though, like in most i've seen in 2010, Garza was the captain). With the blurred lines today there's hardly any real tecnico to even get behind. It feels like a lot of the loudest fans have left accordingly.

This was an A-B-A structure, with a very long first A. In a southern style tag, that's generally a week point. More often than not, you'd want the heat to start as early into the match as possible so that the emotional resonance has a lot of time to build. With recent lucha matches, everything tends to be so stilted that having a nice long back and forth showcase for the tecnicos before things break down can be really enjoyable and add to a match.

A lot of the exchanges were very good too. I liked Fantasma and Terrible a lot, though maybe given his gimmick (which he worked quite well generally), Terrible shouldn't be doing a flip up to end it. Texano led Mascara through the paces fairly well. They kept relatively close contact but there were moments where I swear Mascara moved himself off of a pin in order to hit the next spot which is the sign of not being all that good at your job or at least not leading with the meaning behind what you do. Taichi was generally a good foil for Garza, and for Kemonito too as the two of them had a small face off. Garza got all of his clothes off without getting attacked here, which was a minor miracle and the sort of thing he could probably only get away with against a goof like Taichi. The primera ended with Garza dodging a kick (which went sailing to the apron and nailed Comandate in the face) and hitting a big dive which cleared the ring for Fantasma and Mascara to take the caida (with a German suplex from Fantasma and a submission that I should know the name of from Mascara - Oh hey, it's his Campana, which is apparently his finish, which I've never seen him use. Ok then; this is how I learn).

The segunda started with more exchanges and shine and ended with the beatdown. Mascara looked particularly bad here against Texano and Terrible. They fed into his offense and bumped around for him, but at times he didn't seem to be where he had to be which made it all look disjointed. The transition was fun as the rudos decided they weren't getting anywhere and had a huddle. immediately afterwards, they illegally nailed Garza during some rope running and swarmed. Rudo huddles are great and underutilized. The caida ended with a double heave how powerbomb of sorts followed by Taichi hitting a running kick.

The tercera was short and sweet. Between falls they did the double lift up/drop on Kemonito too (the fiends). After a triple corner attack on Fantasma, they tried the same to Garza, but he backflipped over and then ducked an unintentionally clumsy grab from Taichi who got double dropkicked by his partners. This led to Mascara barely getting Garza up for an alley oop top rope rana and a finishing frog splash from Fantasma and the win. There was a lot of fun stuff here, especially in the first caida and a half but Mascara and Taichi did drag things down a bit.

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Thursday, December 25, 2014

2014 Ongoing Match of the Year List

33. Dragon Lee/Stuka Jr./Star Jr. v. Belial/Extreme Tiger/Impulso Chilanga Mask 11/23

PAS: Another Black Terry Jr. banger. Go email him and Paypal him a couple of bucks. This was CMLL v. Independents and was kind of worked like a Puroresu interpromotional match. Starts out with everyone brawling in the crowd reckless chucking chairs at each other, has some million mile an hour stuff in the ring including a bunch of bonkers dives by the Indy guys, and then goes back to wild brawling. Finish was a double pin which felt incidental, as they barely paused wailing on each other. Just a total blast, really exceeded my expectations.

ER: This kind of match is where Black Terry Jr. really shines. Over half the match takes place outside with guys flying all over the place, and he's right in the middle of the action, taking in a couple guys brawling through the crowd to his right, then whipping around to see a guy fly through chairs over to his left. The bulk of the match felt like that awesome long tracking shot scene on True Detective. For a guy I've never seen before I really loved Impulso in this. I thought he stood out as a real star. Took high bumps for all the CMLL guys, flew around like Freelance in the ring, took a crazy flipping head first tumble through a sea of chairs on the floor. This whole match took place in what looked like a backyard, fenced in by different sized panels of corrugated aluminum. And this match felt wild enough to justify being held in a dirt yard fenced off with scrap aluminum. Dives into the crowd, brawling through people, guys covered in dirt. This was all awesome.


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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

2014 Ongoing Match of the Year List

50. Rey Hechicero/Barbaro Cavernario v. Veneno/Negro Navarro Cara Lucha 11/29

PAS: The awesome Black Terry Jr. run of handhelds continues. As does the unexpected step up from a random dude, a couple weeks ago Ultimo Guerrero looked awesome in a Maestro match, and here Veneno of all people had some really great moments. This was worked more aggressively and quicker paced then most Navarro matches and he fit in really well. At one point he invents this nasty figure four variation which everyone should steal, Cavernario is awesome but he isn't a mat guy, but Navarro made him look golden. The Hechicero v. Veneno stuff was a real highlight too, Hechicero throws Veneno around really violently, and Veneno responds with some really sharp nasty shots, he even throws out the one dive of the match a nutty flip dive. My wife is probably going to get me some nice things for Christmas, might be getting a new leather duffel bag, maybe some slick Rag and Bone shirts, but the highlight of the holiday season is Black Terry Jr. recording Rey Hechicero v. Negro Navarro on Christmas day, they don't match up very much in this match, but when they do it is a total battle of the bulls, that singles match is going to be so awesome.

ER: Chelsea should realize that for just the fraction the cost of a Rag & Bone shirt she could easily make Phil happy by just shelling out for a bunch of Black Terry Jr. exclusives! Seriously, she could be saving some money there. And holy cow how great was Veneno in this! Talk about satisfactory luchadors who I've seen plenty of, and haven't thought about in years! Quick somebody track down and tell me what Mr. Mexico or Karloff Lagarde Jr. have been up to these days. I mean Veneno (!) was just awesome here. He had cool takedowns, nasty kicks to knees, cool short dropkicks to the legs, did this weird headscissors to Hechicero while Rey was deadlifting him, plowed through Cavernario with a wicked senton off the apron, did a weird elbow drop off the top, had some odd Tracy Smothers style kung fu chops…I mean shit Veneno looked like a star here. It made me genuinely want to catch up on what the hell Veneno has been up to the last few years. I mean everybody looked good in this and it's possible Veneno stood out because I'm used to seeing the other three look good, but talk about your fun surprises! Phil is right about Navarro bringing out the best in Cavernario's mat game, as watching the two go at it I was thinking "man this is the best I've seen Cavernario look on the mat!" Also props to Navarro's weird crossed arm submission on Hechicero, crossing Rey's arms across each other in a painful way making it look like he was breaking his wrist with his own other wrist. Great selling by Rey, too.

Ongoing Match of the Year List

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

MLJ: 2010: A Garza Odyssey 9: Brazo de Plata, Héctor Garza, La Sombra vs Felino, Negro Casas, Último Guerrero

Taped 2010-03-29 @ Arena Puebla
Brazo de Plata, Héctor Garza, La Sombra vs Felino, Negro Casas, Último Guerrero

So, here's one thing that Hector Garza and I have in common during this match: we're both sort of tired of 2010 Porky. He's frustrated the entire match. I'm a little more positive but that's because the comedy spots hit well here, and the frustration spots actually added a lot to it. That said, looking ahead at my next few matches on tap, if I kept having more ones that looked the same, I'd probably move on. Thankfully I don't.

To be fair, this one felt a little different because it was in Puebla as well. The fans absolutely loved him and the comedy spots played off Garza a little more than the same rudo feedings which was refreshing. They weren't high art or anything. Garza, after losing the shirt and pants, tossed them at Porky and Porky fell over and then sniffed them, and then tried to get Sombra to sniff them. Or, after the tecnicos take the segunda, Porky mimics Garza's little pray taunt to tease him. Post match, they almost get into it and that would have been well-deserved, but Sombra mostly stopped it. From what I can tell this never actually went anywhere.

The rest of the match was okay, fine within the structure, coasting with the comedy, a backdrop to the Garza/Porky antics, and with a few good little match ups. Felino beat the hell out of Sombra on the outside to begin, so that was nice. You'd barely know Casas was in the primera. It's strange to me how someone so charismatic can disappear into a match so thoroughly. It ended with them tossing Porky into Garza in the corner.

The beatdown was fine but not too memorable. Felino hit a big running low dropkick and the announcers went nuts. I have no idea why they go nuts for Felino's name but they quite often do. UG and Casas hit a double suplex on Porky. Tellingly, UG, the heavyweight, didn't sell the back afterwards and Casas did. Comeback came when Garza lifted Sombra out of harm's way on a charge in and had a lot of rudo miscommunication. That's something which we don't get enough of on top in CMLL now given the rudo/tecnico blurring. It's something very natural for La Peste Negra but not when they're de facto tecnicos.

Tercera was fun with a lot of different match ups. Garza and Casas worked well together, but then Casas works well with most people. He has as much of a range as anyone I've seen. He reminds me a little of Regal in that regard. I think deep down he loves comedy best but he can excel as well as anyone when things get serious. They did a decent job of building to Felino vs Sombra with the early beating and mid-match dodging by Felino, and it paid off alright, I guess, with the crowd into it. Felino seems to know how to latch on to something that he thinks might get over.

The tecnicos took it after a bit more miscommunication from Porky and Garza. Afterwards came the arguing. I'm not sure why they chose to do this in front of the Puebla crowd. There might be some results I don't have in front of me, so maybe it did get somewhere. We're still another couple of months away from Garza's rudo turn. Of all the Porky matches I've seen in 2010, this might be the most fun. I've definitely had my fill though.

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Monday, December 22, 2014

IWA Mid-South Top 18 Matches, #14: Kongo Kong v. Danny Cannon 5/1/14

14. Kongo Kong v. Danny Cannon 5/1/14

PAS:  Really great cat and mouse match. Kong is one of our favorites, he basically is a black One Man Gang, 6'7ish 400 pounds, but really agile. Cannon is a little dude who works a little like a stockier Low-Ki, early part of the match is all about Cannon using his agility to squirm out of Kong's grasp, and pepper him with low kicks, until he is caught and hurled over the top rope, he takes a big bump, but is able to evade Kong again and hit him with three straight topes and a plancha, but still can't knock him down. The match continues like that with Cannon avoiding, hitting and running and Kong catching and pounding. The build to the first Kong knockdown was great, Cannon gets smushed by a somersault in the corner, but avoids the second, and as Kong gets up Cannon springboards to the top rope, grabs the support beam and flips himself into a double stomp right onto Kong's back, such a cool spot, and because he failed to knock down Kong for so long, it meant a lot. Finish was perfect too, as Cannon couldn't avoid him forever, he tries for a top rope rana, gets it turned into a top rope powerslam, and gets sqaushed with a 747. No 2.9 kick outs, no dramatic near falls. Icarus flew too close to the sun and got fried.

ER: I think this is the most I've ever seen Phil write about a match. Think about the ground that covers. And justifiably so because this match was great. It was smart, innovative, fun, and satisfying. I have never heard of Danny Cannon before this match and he was really fun, made me feel that same way I felt when I saw Low-Ki vs. Red from over a decade ago. The evasive spots were really fun as you had Kong tossing Cannon recklessly and Cannon landing on his feet from all sorts of weird angles. Cat and mouse/David & Goliath can be one of my favorite match types (you should see how I ranked all of the Lawler vs. Gigantic Fatties on my Memphis ballot) but it can be tough to hit all of the right notes. This match hit all of the right notes. The comebacks were done smart and they never backed themselves into any illogical selling corners. I loved Cannon's three topes, and the rafter spot and follow up should be in the running for spot of the year. Not only was a guy wildly climbing up to the rafters ("they are *literally* hanging from the rafters!") and stomping a giant savage awesome, but the match psychology was great as Cannon hit Kong with maybe his one available killshot, but couldn't roll the giant over quick enough to get the pin. Great spot, great moment, great match.

PAS: We are putting this at #18 on our MOTY list. IWA-MS from the ashes!!!

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MLJ: Cavernario Spotlight 7: Sagrado, Stigma, Tritón vs Bárbaro Cavernario, Cancerbero, Raziel

Aired 2013-12-15
taped 2013-12-02 @ Arena Puebla
Sagrado, Stigma, Tritón vs Bárbaro Cavernario, Cancerbero, Raziel

I swear that if I watch enough of these matches I'll start to be able to figure out the difference between Titan and Triton. One difference here is that Triton came out with a clown mask over his normal one as if he lost a bet? I bet that feud between Titan, Triton, and Shocker and Atlantis, Delta, and Guerrero Maya Jr from 2011 was fun. I don't think I could handle too many of those matches right now, though.

Anyway, this was another mid-card Monday Puebla match, but the trend I've been seeing here is that these tend to get a couple extra minutes and it leads to more complete matches than a lot of the more polished stuff with bigger names. It's a trade-off. These tend to be a little more imaginative both in offense and in transitions, but there tend to be more little flubs and moments of disconnect as well.

This was one of my first looks at Cancerbero and Raziel too and I came out liking them for their spot on the card. It took me a second to figure out which was which, but thankfully not only is Raziel smaller, he was also shirtless and had a big R on his mask. See, I'm getting good at lucha watching. Sagrado was new to me too. He was a little larger and matched up with Cancerbero pretty well, with both of them hitting some impressive spots for their relative size.

The primera had all the time it needed to be enjoyable. Triton and Cavernario started with some intense and competitive matwork. Sagrado and Cancerbero followed up and didn't stick up the joint and then Raziel and Stigma had a faster exchange. It all ended with a bunch of dive teases that were cut off by the rudos as they went around the cycle allowing Stigma to recover enough to hit Hijo del Santo's full rotation 'rana sunset flip (does that have a name?) for the caida.

The segunda started even and led into a pretty good rudo beatdown. Cavernario probably does the standing chop-off too much; it's in almost all of his matches, but the fact he's one of the only guys in CMLL that does it every match makes it mean more if every wrestler was doing it every match. I liked the transition. Cavernario tried to rip Triton's shirt off as part of the chopfest and it got stuck. No idea if this was intentional or not, but it left him prone to a swarming and shifted the momentum. Sagrado had a lot of character, actually. In the segunda he made sure to fight back and lose during the beat down which not everyone does and in the tercera he actually unsuccessfully hulked up a few times. He had a sort of local hero vibe to him. I wouldn't call it good, in and of itself, but it could work as part of a unit. I see he's teamed a bunch with Valiente which was my first thought but I could totally get behind a Valiente, Sagrado, Mistico trio. Anyway, the caida ended with Cavernario hitting the splash to the outside which let the others submit Sagrado, and that's great, because anytime Cavernario hits that splash it SHOULD end a fall.

More beatdown into the tercera but it was good. There was the hulking up and an always fun handshake fakeout to set up an ambush. Raziel and Cancerbero worked well together. Raziel hit a ridiculous pumphandle move too. Finally Stigma did an assisted handspring off the ropes to start the comeback which had a lot of sort of sloppy sequence but was servicable and gets a B+ for effort. After another cut off or two, Sagrado finally got to hit his dive too. Raziel and Stigma ended it with a roll-up fest finishing with another one of those Santo sunset flips before Camorra (I have no idea who Camorra is) ran to the edge of the ramp to distract Stigma letting Raziel pin him. This had its warts but I really do enjoy watching matches like this now and again to break up whatever else I'm watching. There's a lot of effort here and they use the formula very well to their advantage.

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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Pro Wrestling Revolution Workrate Report 12/13/14

This week we get the main event cage match from the 5/24/14 show in Turlock…

1. Brian Cage & Derek Sanders vs. Blue Demon Jr. & El Mariachi

…and it was not good. The match was about 90% Demon's team, and the cage was actually used as a "weapon" one time. So essentially it was a Texsa Tornado match that happened to take place in a cage. The promotion was clearly pushing this as an epic war, going to the "15 minutes have elapsed, 15 minutes" call approximately 8 minutes into the match (which came barely 2 minutes after the "10 minutes elapsed" call). So that either means 1) they were lying about the match time for…reasons? 2) they clipped the match to air on television (though I didn't see any parts where clipping was apparent), or 3) they clipped the actual match, yet left in the complete ring intros and singing of the national anthem. This match didn't start until the 11 minute mark of the 30 minute broadcast, meaning if they actually DID cut out some of the match it was so they could show full rings entrances, Mexican vs. American promos, Demon standing in the ring while the Mexican national anthem plays, etc. So obviously option 3 would be the most hilariously inept option. Yeah.

So the match itself goes about 12 minutes (or I'm sure 35 if announced by the promotion), and most of the match is Demon's team in control. During brief moments of La Migra gaining control, Demon can't be bothered much to sell or take bumps. He can't even do a back bump off a Cage clothesline, instead falling on his butt with his arm out, the same way you'd fall if you slipped while walking downhill. Midway through Brian Cage escapes, leaving the classic situation of two tecnicos ganging up on the rudo back in the cage. Demon eventually leaves the cage because Cage lures him out by taunting him. Which is kind of hilarious and really plays up the hubris of Demon. Here he and Mariachi have the 2 on 1 advantage over Sanders, but Cage saying he's too scared to come out and fight him followed by Demon actually coming out of the cage and running after Cage makes Demon out to be a laughably insecure twerp. Odd booking decision there. Back in the ring we eventually have heel turn swerve when Demon/Mariachi's second turns on Mariachi allowing Sanders to win. It was telegraphed from the beginning with La Migra having no second, yet some guy under a mask we've never seen before suddenly accompanying Demon. Just a mess of a match.

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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Lucha Underground Episode 8: A Unique Opportunity Workrate Report

1. 10 Man 1 Fall to Finish

ER: Dug Cueto hiding his shiner behind a pair of big shades. So I thought this was a battle royal, but then they explained the rules that first pinfall wins it, so really it was more like a 10 man scramble. This match both worked for me and did not work for me. There were some really fun moments. I liked Havoc's stuff with Puma, dug Cuerno's flattening tope, Havoc had some crazy high speed Space Flying Tiger Something into a crowd of people, tons of fun spots and go go go. What I couldn't stand about it was that everybody was on a completely equal plane and there was no established hierarchy. In the first 7 weeks the show did a nice job of establishing a hierarchy. We knew the top of the food chain and the bottom. Here everybody was the same. Mariachi Loco got more showcase spots than King Cuerno. Sagrada worked equally with Big Ryck. The Sagrada shit is really starting to annoy me at this point. Not only does everybody in the fed now work equal to him, but he sells less than any worker in the fed.  He'll take a move that would put a larger worker down, but when he takes it he's already moving into position to hit his next spot. The novelty is still there for most of the crowd so I get the push, but the novelty is over for me and seeing him put over so strongly over more believable, capable workers is just strange to my eyes.

PAS: Lots of fun dives in this, but this would have been a below average ROH scramble, it really needed Dixie to give it some structure. I don't get what Son of Havoc's deal is, he was a thug biker who was getting humiliated, and now he is breaking out the craziest high flying spots of the match. If they wanted Matt Cross to do his stuff, give him a different gimmick. Individually fun stuff, and I liked the end run with Puma and Fenix, although I am not sure how that singles match is going to work.

ER: Another Cage promo. "I am not a man, I am a machine." A machine that manufactures triceps tears, I imagine.

2. Boyle Heights Battle Royal

ER: Okay this is the battle royal. So another 10 people but more traditional "feet touch the floor" rules. And for a battle royal it was okayish. I like how Sexy Star went after Chavo until she was eliminated, how she had the blinders on to the rest of things and just wanted his blood. Mundo did his standard "guy who can't be eliminated" schtick, always hanging on during potential eliminations. Vampiro made me laugh one of the times he hung on by dropping "If Fit Finlay were in this he would have kicked Mundo's lungs out through his chest right now." I'm not sure what it had to do with anything, but he's probably right, and I kind of would like a regular "What Would Finlay Do" updates during matches. Shoot, any wrestler ever could think WWFD and it would always make them a better wrestler. Last week Vampiro randomly brought up his Wrestle Society X match with X-Pac (the best match of that promotion's run), so who knows what other surprises lurk in his brain. The ending went on a little too long for me, felt like an endless series of Mundo getting almost tossed, then getting back in. Plus once it was down to Mundo and a couple others we got a bunch of really bad Mundo offense. Really bad knees from the clinch (a couple really whiffed by 2 feet), floppy kicks to nowhere, pretty flashy bunch of nothing.

PAS: I don't mind Mundo's goofy stuff, and the last three with Chavo, Mundo and Muertes was pretty neat. Chavo taking that German suplex like Kenta Kobashi was pretty crazy. Chavo has been so good in this fed so far, I really hope he gets something interesting to do. Still it was a battle royal, and had the flaws of a battle royal.

3. Mil Muertes vs. Fenix

ER: This match didn't do tons for me either. Dario's pre-match promo was kind of clunky, taking the scenic route to get to his announcement of AZTEC WARFARE, which is the most dangerous and extreme match EVER devised…and I suppose we'll find out what it actually is in a few weeks when they come back after the holidays. Fenix and Muertes didn't match up very well, with Muertes have to stand around for some silly offense (the worst offender being a dorky handspring into a diamond cutter). I just wasn't feeling this one.

PAS: Fenix gets really exposed in singles matches, and Muertes isn't a great opponent for him. Nothing much to see here.

PAS: I did love Dario backstage with the belt. "I know you like to break pretty things" is a pretty bad ass line, really looking forward to this surprise.


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Friday, December 19, 2014

MLJ: 2010: A Garza Odyssey 8: Taichi, Terrible, Texano Jr. vs Blue Panther, Brazo de Plata, Héctor Garza

2010-03-26 @ Arena México
Taichi, Terrible, Texano Jr. vs Blue Panther, Brazo de Plata, Héctor Garza

4:09 in

I'm definitely bumping into Porky a lot in these 2010 Garza matches. To be fair, he's sort of hard to avoid. Because he's fat. See? Sorry. You can hit your limit of Porky matches pretty easily, but it is fun to see him against different opponents to see how they utilize him. He's a prop, really, albeit a charismatic one. He was used pretty well here, to be honest. We'll get to that.

So this is actually my first Texano, Jr. match ever. He's obviously on top in AAA so I probably should have seen some more of him by now. I haven't. Maddeningly, this is a panned out shot for most of the match and the only way I can easily tell him apart from Terrible is that he has tassels on his boots. They were both in Averno's stable here. Taichi still has the awesomely goofy jester mask that he comes out with. It's a shame he couldn't wrestle with it on. He's about good for a dropkick and not much else, unfortunately.

There was actually a lot to like here. I just with there was a little more of it, which is a feeling I've had from a lot of these 2010 matches recently. For instance, the primera didn't give us all three match ups again. I'm okay with a beatdown from the start and I'm okay with a cheap cut off after the match-ups, but I do sort of feel cheated if they only give us one and a half before starting the beatdown. On the other hand, it's probably better, in context, if they change things up as much as they can. I still feel a little cheated. here, I liked Terrible and Panther's matwork starting out. I keep thinking that I might go back to Panther again sometime soon, but I doubt with Terrible. If I'm still doing this in six months, I'll definitely look at the Rush/Terrible series, though. I came up with a match list and everything. Also to be fair, they teased the beatdown before it happened. Panther got nailed from behind and rolled out but Garza got to fight back for a moment before the Commandante(?) grabbed his leg from the outside; when he was looking at her, he got taken out. Little twists make the world go round.

The beatdown was fine but not super memorable. Texano's fireman's carry into a backbreaker was really nice and I like it a lot more than similarly contrived things like Valiente's facebreaker finish. I actually thought Texano and Terrible worked really well as a unit and I'd be open to seeing more there, certainly. I could have used a couple more minutes of beatdown. Porky only got in there very briefly, for instance. It ended, nicely enough, with Panther hitting a sunset flip and rolling through to toss his opponent into a Garza shot from the outside. I hadn't seen that before and it's a spot that should be used more. Unsurprisingly Porky falls on everyone (after kissing the valet after a Garza tease of it) and the tecnicos take the segunda.

The tercera was your standard reset so everyone could hit some stuff, but the stuff was good. Terrible made a great foil for Porky, flying around the ring for him and it was pretty funny. Garza has to be the best wrestler in history at doing stupid things like taking bits of clothes off and playing to the crowd that get him clobbered. He manages it, on average, three times per match. It's impressive. Charismatic though. This all went rather briskly with guys going in and out of the ring, including a Panther vs the world segment, and Taichi hilariously running into Porky. In the end Porky sits on Terrible for 3, but he still manages to interfere from the outside in to reverse a sunset flip and let the rudos win. Fun for what it was, but it needed to be a bit more.

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

IWA Mid-South Top 18 Matches, #15: Necro Butcher v. Toby Klein 8/1/03

#15 Necro Butcher v. Toby Klein 8/1/03

PAS: This was the first real breakout  Necro Butcher match, I remember totally freaking out the first time I saw this.  I think re-watching it a dozen years later it may stand out a little less, mainly because Necro had so many awesome matches with a similar structure. Klein was right there going toe to toe with him, but Necro took the craziest shots, including a VCR to the dome and a cinderblock. I am burned out a bit with light tubes but there was certainly some nutso shots with them. Before rewatch, I might have put this in the top 5 IWA-MS matches ever, it will be interesting where it stands after checking out others.

ER: Awesome fight, just a crazy sprint through beating another man down. This is only 7 minutes and clearly in the running for best under-10 minute matches ever. You don't get the pause for effect and wandering that you get in most weapons matches, these two just take off hitting and throwing shit at each other and expect you to keep up. Or, judging by how little regard they give to the (fairly close seated) fans, they don't care what sinks in with viewers. These two just go right at each other and never let up. Both guys are relentless. Both have nasty chops to start and then Necro breaks things open with a running headbutt. Before long Necro takes a toaster with no give to the dome (thought not as bad as later when he would take a heavy VCR), both guys get way cut up with glass (with glass exploding with inches of tons of fans). Tube shots did get kind of played out in death matches over the years, but here they're used more like transitions and stuff to do between nasty fighting. Usually they're built to as bigger spots, but here instead of wandering from spot to spot they stick glass into each other's backs instead. The visuals of sheets of blood running down each guy was pretty sick. Necro caves in Klein's head and ribs with punches after taking some nasty bat shots, Klein fires back with some nasty punches to Necro's spleen. And that is kind of the key to why this match is so great, there is more substance in the fighting and the "in between" stuff than in the actual weapons shots. These guys had a fight that happened to involve weapons, not a stunt show where they just voluntarily moved from prop spot to prop spot. The finish is one of the great indy finishes, with Necro locking on a rear naked choke, Klein grabbing for a light tube/barb wire bundle, but passing out before being able to swing it towards Necro's head. Awesome match.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

IWA Mid-South Top 18 Matches, #16: John Wayne Murdoch v. Davey Richards 7/17/14

John Wayne Murdoch v. Davey Richards 7/17/14

PAS: It has been a long time since I watched a Davey Richards match, and I would like to make it along time since I watch another. I got the sense I might like Murdoch more when he wasn't jammed in the Davey Richards match structure, but he didn't do much for me here. All of the obnoxious Richards stuff was here, but mainly what stuck out to me is what an awful in ring actor he is. All of his selling was so hammy, he looked like a bad 1st year UCB improv student doing a pro-wrestler gimmick. Just utterly takes me out of the match, in the past he has been a guy with good execution, executing everything wrong, here his execution didn't even look good. This wouldn't even be a top 20 match for a random month of cards in 2002 IWA, much less top 18 of all time.

ER: I actually liked this match more than Phil, while at the same time seeing zero reasonable way that this match could be considered anywhere close to a top 20 of any individual year of the promotion's existence. I really loved Murdoch in this, made me want to see a lot more of him. He leans into kicks, has no problem being punched, does these cool backhand chops to the face, throws weird elbows, great knee drops to the arm, has some nice mat stuff, and really does have that pasty Murdoch skin, skinny arms and the exact same torso as Dick (with the face of Trevor!). But holy fuck what is Davey Richards!? Please do yourself a favor and watch him around 14:55 and 18:25 of the linked video. Please tell me what in the actual hell he is doing. In this first clip he is in the middle of a strike exchange, but I have never seen a human move the way he moves here. It's like he's trying to do wobbly legs but the example of wobbly legs he was trying to mimic had a bunch of missing frames or…something. I have no idea what he thinks he looks like when doing that. At 18:25 he's trying to prevent a sunset flip, in just the ugliest dorkiest pee pantsingly hilarious way possible. If Shawn Michaels had done this against Hogan in their match people would still be talking about it today as the most memorable instance of Michaels telling Hogan to fuck off. When I saw Murdoch was working Davey's arm a bunch I groaned - not because I thought the arm work would get forgotten and no sold, but because I knew Davey WOULD try and sell the arm. And his selling is just the most awful selling possible. Phil likens it to a 1st year UCB student, but NO 1st year UCB student has this much unwarranted hubris. To get your arm worked on and respond by going "OH GOD NOOO! GOD! OH MY GOD NO!" is just the worst fucking possible read. If that shit was in Troll 2 it would get one of the loudest laughter reactions at showings. Just…what the hell is this guy?

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MLJ: 2010: A Garza Odyssey 7: Héctor Garza, Máximo, Negro Casas vs Atlantis, Rey Bucanero, Último Guerrero

2010-03-19 Arena México
Héctor Garza, Máximo, Negro Casas vs Atlantis, Rey Bucanero, Último Guerrero

6 minutes in

This was second from the top for the 2010 Homenaje a Dos Leyendas show (technically third from the top I guess but the last two matches were linked and culminated with Felino losing his mask). Casas was a rudo so I'm not entirely sure what the build to this match looked like. Garza was the captain for the tecnicos but don't be fooled when it comes to card placement. This match was really just thrown on there and the entirety of the build (much like the recent cage match where Felino lost his hair, ironically) was about the four way mask match.

I can understand someone in 2010 being totally and absolutely burnt out on los Guerreros del Atlantida. Rey and UG had been together for the better part of a decade at this point, even with Rey's tecnico turn. Later on in the year, he'd morph into more of the Jack Sparrow gimmick with Perico (not yet Zacarias), and they even had an little bit on the showing of this (which i think happened months later) with him in there. By that point he'd joined La Pesta Negra. Atlantis' rudo turn was probably two years stale by this point. Here, in 2014, having only watched them this year and in bits and pieces, I get pretty happy when I get to see this unit in action. There's just this air of professionalism. Maybe it makes things rote and lazy. You know you'll see the same things (the alley oop body drop, the catapult onto the knees followed by Rey's back senton, the triple corner moves ending with the senton de la muerte, them going to the well one too many times with one of those causing the transition), but it's fine. All of it worked. The beatdowns were generally good, and the three of them, despite being near the top of the card for years were still totally willing to show ass. I have the luxury of not getting sick of it because I jump around. I didn't have to live through it. That said, it's a lot less interesting to see modern UG/Gran Guerrero/Euforia matches, even if there is something refreshing about the fact that they're full on rudos as opposed to La Pesta Negra or Los Ingobernales (though since they're feuding a bit with Los Ingobernales now that's becoming skewed).

This match had a few things going for it. I'd much rather have Rey in the rudo trio than, let's say, Niebla. He wore a green bandanna coming out to match Atlantis and UG. Casas in trios is interesting to me. He's very good at blending in. Maybe less so today, but I found this to be true both in 2006 and 2010, and maybe even back in the 90s. If he's not the featured feud, he plays his role, holds up the match as a structural element, and you don't even always notice him. That's both good and bad. He doesn't ham and distract in the way Niebla or Wagner might but you almost want him to because he's so good and so enjoyable. Here, he played his role as the rudo slumming with the tecnicos, kissing a shocked Maximo on the cheek pre-match and then eating a well-wished kiss from Kemonito later on and selling it big. He also had a nice little exchange with UG to start the match. I don't remember having seen the two of them match up too many times before, so I was glad to see it.

This was a little bit paint-by-numbers, a feel good trios match for a big show and even then just a little stilted. In the primera, we only had that first match up and a little bit of Rey/Maximo before Maximo ran into a knee from the outside and the swarming began. It ended in a triple submission. The comeback was one of Maximo's usual step ups and those always go well but we missed a chunk of it due to a poorly timed replay, which really happens more rarely than you'd think. It hurt the match flow as a viewer though. The tercera let everyone hit their stuff with the tecnicos coming out on top.

Like I said, it wasn't anything I hadn't seen before, but the ringwork itself was well timed and well executed and hit the right marks. If it just had about 20% more of everything, it would have been pretty good. As it was, it did its job and left long before it wore out its welcome. There really is a simple joy to a perfectly competent trios match.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

IWA Mid-South Top 18 Matches, #17: JC Bailey v. Mad Man Pondo 2/23/03

17. JC Bailey v. Mad Man Pondo 2/23/03

PAS: This wasn't even a match really. It was the first ever US circus death match which was a scaffold and a ring wrapped in barbed wire to simulate a circus net. They basically take three bumps, Pondo gets thrown off the first rung, and Bailey dives on him, then they get cut out. Then Pondo Russian leg sweeps them both into the net, and they get cut out. Finally they both climb to the top of the scaffold and Pondo suplexes them both into the net. A three bumps are crazy, but there was no real attempt to build any kind of match around the bumps. It was a total exhibition, memorable but not good. I can see why they put it on their list, but it wouldn't go anywhere near mine.

ER: This plays more like something that would make an ugly music video on Ridiculousness or something. Phil's right, it's three bumps. Three fucking INSANE spots, but for the most part Bailey and Pondo don't even pretend they're fighting each other in between spots. They fake it for a little bit, there's a collar & elbow tie up, sometimes they punch each other a bit. For the most part thy willingly climb and then kind of do trust falls into the wire. Then they get painfully pulled out of the wire, and then willingly climb up on different sides of the scaffold before jumping off again. You know there's nothing worth talking about between the 3 spots when there's a fairly spirited debate among the announce crew regarding the durability of the scaffolding. "I mean, this is a legitimate 18' high structure." "It seems rickety." "Well it does, but what do you expect? Without it being fastened to the ceiling we're talking about four poles going 18' up." The three spots were insane and dumb and not at all pro wrestling, but the lay around time does actually add to the match as it really does soak in how the awful part isn't going into the wire, but getting pulled out of it. If they had just maintained some semblance of hating each between, during and after the spots it could have been lunatic brilliance. But each of the three spots felt more like a Thelma & Louise "Let's do this!" moment.

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IWA Mid-South Top 18 Matches, #18: Heidi Lovelace v. Jordynne Grace 2/8/14

IWA-Mid South Segunda Caida's favorite scumbag indy is putting up their top 18 matches on youtube. I figure I would review them and see how my ranking fits with there rankings.

18. Heidi Lovelace v. Jordynne Grace 2/8/14

PAS: I enjoyed this really felt like something filmed on someones phone and uploaded on Baller Alert or Worldstar, especially when the wandered out and started brawling in the snow. Felt like a Moondog brawl if the Moondogs were strippers with needle marks between their toes. There was a crazed tope by Lovelace, Grace smashes a tool box into Lovelaces head, their is a spinebuster into the snow, smashing each other into trucks and it ends with both girls getting smushed by Kongo Kong. There have been a metric ton of great matches in IWA and I don't think this was top 20 or anything, but it was pretty fun in a very IWA kind of way.

ER: Man this was killer. After this and the six man I'm really loving Jordynne Grace. These girls really take some nasty falls and spills. The stuff in the snow was the worst just because the conditions making everything worse than it normally would have been. You get a single arm DDT in the show, a freaking uranage on a picnic table, I mean good lord. But Grace has real nice strikes, some of the best shoulderblocks of anybody male or female. All of her shoulders to Lovelace's stomach throughout the match had a sick thud to them, whether they were also slamming Lovelace into the apron or outside ramming her into some fat guy's 4 Runner. Grace's tope was so awesome, just full impact crushing Lovelace. And I just love both of their commitment to taking seemingly normal stuff on painful surfaces. Even something like a snapmare is more brutal when taken on a gymnasium floor and these two clearly went all in. Big fan.

PAS: We are also putting this at 27 on our 2014 MOTY list. IWA-MS lives!!!


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Monday, December 15, 2014

MLJ: Cavernario Spotlight 6: Black Metal, Metálico, Stigma vs Bárbaro Cavernario, Hijo del Signo, Hooligan

Aired 2013-06-29
taped 2013-06-25 @ Arena Mexico
Black Metal, Metálico, Stigma vs Bárbaro Cavernario, Hijo del Signo, Hooligan

This was sort of fun for a few reasons. First and foremost, it was Cavernario's debut at Arena Mexico. It was about a year and a half ago and he was just in the headlining trios match for the Tuesday show last week. I think that's a pretty good ascent. I've not seen a modern CMLL match without commentary, but that's what we have here. It was a little jarring, to be honest. Thankfully, I'd seen most of these guys in the previous matches so I was able to pick them out for the most part. I'll say this, the crowd seemed interesting in seeing Cavernario at least. He had a chant at one point when he was on the apron and when he played to the crowd, they responded.

This was also Metalico's debut and it could have gone better for him. There was a downright brutal exchange with Signo late in the match where I don't even know what they were going for. I'll call it an unfortunate and unnecessary flip followed by a really sad missed drop kick and then Metalico not really skidding out of the ring well to set himself up for a clumsy Signo tope. From what I've seen of Signo so far, he's best when he's playing a poor man's Fuerza, just sort of a dickish goony rudo. He really wasn't doing that here. Stigma did well mostly matched up against Cavernario and Hooligan was fine as a physical presence. I think, maybe, he didn't give enough in the match, including just hammering down after Black Metal's big moment (a tope from the inside onto the ramp) but I can kind of understand why he wouldn't.

The match itself was fairly subdued. It has to be hard to put together an Arena Mexico card, especially one with a bunch of trios, especially when you're doing it week in and week out. I rarely watch whole shows, though I do tend to follow things week to week when I can. You can only go to the same well so many times on a card without burning out the crowd. Therefore, the end to the primera was very abrupt: after the back and forth of the initial pairings, Signo came in, slammed Metalico, and splashed him for three.

Likewise, the 'comeback' was barely there at all. The beatdown was the best part of the match. Both Hooligan and Cavernario were well suited to just beat the crap out of their opponents and it was the brunt of the segunda. They cycled in one after the next with clubbering and triple kicks and one brutal groin corner dropkick by Hooligan. It only lasted a few minutes but they were good minutes and by the end of it, I was ready for a hot comeback. I didn't get one. Metalico reversed a triple team into a quick 'rana on Signo for three. It was one of those moments where the other rudos were supposed to be celebrating since they thought the move went their way, so they missed the pin, but Hooligan was staring right at it embarrassingly. The crowd was somewhere between bemused and confused about it.

Even though he ultimately went out in the tercera to a Stigma double underhook powerbomb, it did feel like Cavernario's debut party. He had a solid, if a bit rehearsed, showing on the mat with Stigma in the primera. He was front and center in the beatdown, really getting a chance to show off his sudden strikes that can make a rudo beatdown compelling. Then he got to hit a few of his big moves, the alley-oop dropkick in the segunda and a jump-back second rope splash and the clothesline backbreaker in the tercera.

It was only as good a match as the card placement and what we'll chalk up to nervousness in Metalico would let it be, but it was a good showing for Cavernario in a match where he really had to deliver. By this point it was pretty safe to say that he was well on his way.

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

WWE TLC 2014 Live Blog

No idea if Phil or Eric are watching this but we've got a streak going on big shows, so screw it. I'll have to put the baby to sleep at some point so I'll be lagging behind, but here goes:

Star and Gold Dust vs Kofi/Big E

MD: I am kind of a sucker for Big Guy/Little guy Hart Foundation style tag teams. I liked the Stardust/Big E segment actually. It seems somehow like Big E is working a freakish strong man gimmick more than before. Kofi's a fine enough hot tag and Big E can sell well enough so the first half of the double FIP worked fine. I liked the Kofi half of the FIP less though the set up was good. Stardust's stupid paint (I liked the blue last month) rubbing of on everyone was a highlight. The second hot tag was timed really well and Big E as a world-destroyer house of fire is pretty great. I know this is a terrible gimmick but I think it's a good in ring role for him. This was perfectly fine but I really wish Goldust would use a hold other than a chinlock more. That was one of the big problems with his heel run in 95-96 too. He's one of the best guys on the roster on working from underneath so he might not get that most of the other guys just can't make it compelling.

Harper vs Ziggler (Ladder):

MD: It felt like there was a decent amount of setting ladders up here but Harper's good with little touches, for instance, the haphazard way he just dropped the ladder on Ziggler after the big toss-him-in spot, or the way they drew out the power bomb on the ladder to make it mean more (and the pivotal reversal spot later on even more). I feel like most ladder matches are pretty even between workrate-y guys, so to have a monster vs an underdog in one felt sort of fresh. When you add in that the monster is also a machine who's willing to kill himself dead on a chair-blocked tope and it was a fun spectacle. Vince had to blow a gasket with all the lacerations, but it felt like a war. This was the sort of candy with substance that would have worked great on a PPV where it could stand out. It's unfortunate it was on TLC where it's so much harder not to make everything just blend in.

Usos vs Miz/Mizdow:

MD: This was the Mizdow show. I loved watching Aaron the Idol Stevens in Chaotic Wrestling in MA back in 2000 during my freshman year in college. He would do a toned down version of this where he was the junior comedy relief third man in the One Night Stand goomba jock frat freebirds team. There's not much of that online, just one promo with his Britney Spears cut out, but he'd sell on the outside to whatever was happening in the ring and it was the best part of a show where the second best part was generally a near-rookie Hurricane John Walters, which might tell you something about the show. I'm glad he's getting some spotlight for that now. I don't get the physics behind this though. During a backslide, Mizdow has to mimic it. During the pin that followed a minute later, he was able to break it up. What gives? The Tequila Sunrise is a perfectly fine Usos submission move, and obviously they have way more storyline stuff to do with Naomi so it makes sense for a BS finish here. Perfectly fine Sports Entertainment.

Rowan vs Big Show (Stairs):

MD: I like that the Stairs got a Tale of the Tape. Coming in I thought that Rowan was going to work his ass off because this is basically the biggest chance he's going to get. Show's really good at imaginative layout so the idea of doing a new match is the sort of thing that he'd probably put a lot of thought into. Ultimately, there was a lot of set up here and while they worked hard, the payoff didn't always live up to it. I think Rowan ended up looking at least as good as he came in but not necessarily better in the loss.

Cena vs Rollins (Table):

MD: Well, the good news about this is that they're giving Ambrose another main event, which is funny since Punk wasn't even getting them when he was champion. Cena was wearing Stardust's shoes. Noble makes a great Jerry Brisco since his kayfabe character could totally have an auto shop with Nidia as receptionist. They add so much to Rollins' act. Cena should do that uppercut more. This is going to be a weird compliment but on a PPV full of sameness, the best thing about this match is that it felt different, with less set up, the interference and WWE storytelling feel. Of course next year we're going to have to have a Guardrail Match. I thought, coming in, that the point of this was to have Cena foiled by interference repeatedly until Orton ran out to counteract it, but they went out of their way to make Rollins look like a threat with the briefcase and the great jumping over the table spot and the tope splash through the ropes, etc, so that was something. There's nothing worse than ref bumps in table and first blood matches though. The refs all conferring was sort of bullshit since at least one of them would have logically mentioned Rollins going through earlier. It was kind of worth it for the Michael Cole bump. Ah, the point was Reigns, not Orton. I guess it was kind of Cena to share his showcase this way. That all got pretty silly at the end though. It'd do Reigns a world of good if they keep letting him come in through the crowd.

Bella vs AJ:

MD: It does sort of bug me that they're not explaining Stockholm Syndrome Bella well. I hate to think what that says about me. I liked Nikka's spinebuster. The spine-on-the-post yank looked sick. The way AJ got up for Nikki's offense sort of made me disappointed that we didn't get Monster Steph vs AJ at SummerSlam instead, but only for a few seconds. This would have been better if Nikki stayed on the back more. It probably needed another minute or two after Brie got tossed. They manage to almost always work in a few good looking spots in these but the throughline is rarely there. Just imagine that Phil said something funny here.

Ryback vs Kane (Chairs):

MD: I needed more dueling chair fights. The top rope splash/chair counter transition was pretty goofy. We know Ryback IS that stupid, but come on. I have to admit that by this point, I'm pretty burnt out on weapon shots and hoss fighting. Considering the amount of WWE Main Event Bullshit we've gotten too, I'm a little worried about recharging for the main event, which was a match I was kind of looking forward to. Hopefully Swagger vs Rusev works for a recharge. Kane actually looks pretty good here. He's working hard and I doubt he'll get much credit for it. I wonder if it's just that he doesn't have a ton of physical charisma or what? Maybe he has the most when he's passive aggressively impatient with life and all the insanity he's encountering and the corporate character allows for that. This match is giving me too much time to think. You know, it has to be terrifying to be in a chairs match with Ryback. You know, I liked the finishing stretch. The projectile chair was a good moment when I thought the match was basically over. They had teased the chokeslam enough and that made he need for the Tombstone escalation worked within the match, and then they went right to the finish without anymore silliness. Still, I'm not itching to re-see that anytime soon.

Rusev vs Swagger:

MD: I thought I'd have the time of a feud recap to get the toddler laying down and switch over to my tablet to wait out her going to sleep. We were away for two days over the weekend though and the cat totally gnawed upon my headphone wire, killing them. Long story short, I only saw the last minute or so of this. I'm guessing this wasn't a repeat of their match with the killer Rusev selling.

Wyatt vs Ambrose (TLC):

MD: This I caught without sound. For an Attitude Era style around the arena match with lots of weapons and what have you, I thought this was about as good as you could get. Dean needs to keep his tongue in his mouth more. I did like his selling like the ring was lava though. The escalating ladder dives were aces and Ambrose pretty seamlessly worked the weapons into his offense like a good CZW  alum. I wish they had played up the eye injury on the kendo stick more but I guess that'd be too cutesy given the ending. I don't think Ambrose loses any heat for not winning this but if they were going to go this route, playing up the eye injury more and then finishing with a Wyatt fireball would have been a million times better. Even a japanese photographer using a trick flash would have been about sixteen times better. Ah well. All in all, I think this was a better show than most people were expecting coming in.

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2014 Ongoing Match of the Year List

14. Brazo Jr. v. Kortiz WMC 8/24

PAS: This is the son of a Brazo vs. the son of a Villano  and it is the kind of gritty a old school bloody lucha singles match which would have been right at home on the 80's set and something which does the legacy of that family feud proud. Kortiz is great, really a nasty asskicker truly in the family tradition, he mauls Brazo Jr. early with nasty punches, and post shots until Brazo Jr.'s gear is covered in blood. Very traditional structure for this kind of match, with one sided rudo domination early, until Brazo ducks a punch and unloads with an over hand slap. He then takes over and bloodies Kortiz by smashing his head into the top of the metal post. Then we get more of a back and forth match including an awesome section with both guys on their knees unloading everything they have. The finish was a little goofy, with Brazo's second faking a towel throw, and then Kortiz gets distracted, his mask pulled off and rolled up, but for a bs finish it was pretty clever.

ER: This was a 3 part match for me (well, erm…I suppose most lucha matches are). I loved the first two parts, right up with the best stuff I've seen all year, and the third part was good but lost me a little by the end. But damn those first two parts. Kortiz comes out not rocking the Villano name, but unmistakably rocking the Villano body and viciousness. You realize what kind of match this is going to be around the 4 minute mark, as the action had spilled out in front of the camera and Kortiz punches Brazo a lot right in the ear, and Kortiz is really mean throughout all of this. His overhand chops sound like the sound-sweetened versions on Lucha Underground. Brazo looked like kind of a pushover (I really appreciate that somebody somewhere taped this, but you get the feeling the match would be that much better if filmed up close so we could really get inside Brazo's selling and comeback) until a missed Kortiz strike and then it was on! Possibly my favorite lucha moment of the year (and think of the ground that covers in 2014) sees Kortiz climbing up the ropes but getting caught by Brazo, and with both men facing out towards the corner, Brazo starts bashing Kortiz's face into the edge of the ring post. I've never seen that before and lucky us it was happening on the post closest to camera side, so we could see all the glory of a guy getting smashed into a ring post. We get some nasty leg work from Brazo in the tercera, the worst when Kortiz has his leg draped over the bottom rope and Brazo just curb stomps right through it. They lost me a little with some move and submission trading, but upon rewatching the match it wasn't really nearly as bad as my initial impressions. There aren't wild lucha brawls with blood anymore so I should really have been focused more on how exciting THAT was, instead of getting a little lost with some mostly pointless "but he didn't sell the knee long enough" type stuff. As a whole picture the match was great, total hidden gem that - thanks to Phil's OCD about searching for obscure wrestlers every day on the internet - totally pays off.

2014 Match of the Year Master List

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Lucha Underground Episode 7: The Top of the Ladder Workrate Report

Danny Trejo is in the house for this episode!

1. Super Fly vs. King Cuerno

PAS: Super Fly shows up on Lucha Underground with a mask four days after losing it in Mexico, they should probably coordinate that stuff better. This was a fun match, with Super Fly being good in the role of enhancement guy. His Space Flying Tiger Drop was pretty great looking. Pretty much just a set up for more Cuerno v Drago, but I liked it

ER: This was a fun extended Cuerno showcase. Cuerno has nice stomps, which is not really something anybody has anymore. When you think about it the stomp used to be a pretty common thing for a bad guy to do, but you just don't see many guys using them anymore. At least the guys doing them are apparently doing them with pride. So I didn't have much problems with it in the past episodes, but pretty sure we can officially get rid of the vertical hanging camera. I don't think it adds to any shots, and often it takes away from them. Here Cuerno took what looked like a cool bump to the floor but you couldn't really get a feel for the gravity of it with the overhead shot.

PAS: Pentagon Jr. vignette was fun. I don't really get violent Ninja warrior from what he is doing so far, but I liked the Kung Fu B-Movie feel.

ER: Oh man the zoom in on the victim when Pentagon Jr. breaks the poor guy's arm during a sparring session was hilarious. He's like a villain in Bloodsport or something. Also laughed at the dual superman punch by two Aztec warriors on a sunset hillside.

2. Fenix v. Chavo Guerrero Jr.

ER: Did not love this, although it actually had a bunch of individual moments that I liked. I loved the spot where Fenix was taking Chavo apart with leg kicks and Chavo levels him with a clothesline. Fenix took the clothesline great. Loved Chavo twisting his boot on Fenix's mask. Loved Pentagon's interference. But it was very disjointed and at the end felt like a bunch of things happened, but it didn't add up to a lot. We've talked about how Fenix has trouble stringing his big spots together as he doesn't seem to know what to do between the big moments. We had the return of the overhead camera shot as I had no idea what happened with a miscommunication spot, as both men ran towards the ropes but Chavo ended up falling through them to the floor or…something. It looked clunky from that camera, and it's possible it was a bad looking spot that looked worse than clunky when shot normally, so they opted for the overheard traffic cam, but either way I'm no fan. Also did not like the Chavo reversal spot on Fenix's big double knees from the top. Almost every reversal spot I've ever seen from a top rope move looks bad, as the reverser ends up taking the full brunt of the move, then just rolls through to do his thing as if the move didn't happen. Here Chavo takes the double knees, then just grabs a half crab. It "looked cool" but it also made the double knees (which I thought was a pretty great spot) look like garbage. I get those moves being risky, but the risk shouldn't be "ah HA! You hit the move flush but *I* just chose to ignore that even happened!!"

PAS: I really enjoyed Chavo in this, as I think he is pretty good in the rudo base roll against high flyers, and I liked the double knee reversal thing, I buy if you know something is coming you can brace yourself and prep a roll through. Fenix is sort of a mess though, he has some cool highspots, but they aren't any cooler then Drago or Puma and he looks very lost in between them, and that is with a vet like Chavo and editing, he is obviously being built for bigger things in this fed and I am not sure he can live up to them

ER: We get a Cage vignette which is really nothing more than a throwaway UFC pre-fight video, with him flipping tractor tires and doing bicep curls. Brian Cage is a huge gassed up guy who 18 months ago was about 50 pounds of muscle lighter. This is an extreme case of wrestling body dysmorphia. He still has some surprising agility that occasionally breaks through the layers of mass, kind of like early super gassed era Scott Steiner. You know, how most of the time he looked like a guy who couldn't properly put his arms down at his sides, but would from time to time break out some impressive things the way he used to. I've seen Cage look good in matches, and I've seen matches hurt by his newfound physique. Curious to see how he does here.

PAS: I had kind of assumed the key was to unlock the Brian Cage, but him in this vignette seem to suggest that he is going to be used in a different way. With Cage and Big Ryck it is weird that this lucha fed has more roid monsters then the WWE.

3. Big Ryck vs. Johnny Mundo vs. Prince Puma ($100,000 LADDER MATCH)

ER: Ladder match is starting at just the 30 minute mark of the episode which seems kind crazy, but intriguing (but made more sense when the show went off the air at the 54 minute mark). But by the end of this match I was still just kinda bored. Everything I loved about the street fight a couple weeks back was lacking here. All of the run ins and garbage spots in that match felt very organic, and here the run ins operated much more on super obvious spot set up. All the garbage spots were integrated really seamlessly into the street fight, and here the set up for all of them was clunky and obvious. Plenty of great individual moments, such as Puma's cool dive through the ladder, and an ESPECIALLY  awesome Steamboat Bill  spot with Puma and a falling ladder. Never seen that before outside the magic of the cinemaplex and I fell in love all over again. Puma and Morrison both pulled out some pretty crazy stuff, with Puma breaking a ladder in half by falling through it on the way to the floor, Morrison making a slingshot spot look brutal by going in nose first. But I thought almost all of the run in moments were bad, as opposed to them being a strength like they were in the street fight. The match still had its strengths, and I really liked Big Ryck in this. While the set up for the crazy spots was at times bad, the crazy spots themselves all looked great. The worst thing about the match was the run in. Phil told me afterwards on the phone that it was B-Boy, who I have seen live a bunch (jeeeeez dating back over a DECADE!) and when he ran in Striker was all "who is this some sort of fan or something? Jesus get security out here" and I was rolling my eyes because it sounded like "That's Lance Storm!! HEEEE doesn't work HEREEEE!!!" but then all of this mystery man's strikes looked insanely bad , like he was fake fighting a little kid with progeria and had to be extra gentle, and then he took the worst ever bump off a Mundo superkick, kinda pausing for a goofy "Did I do that!?" look at a camera that wasn't there before falling the wrong direction. After all that I thought "oh shit that HAD to have been a fan, Striker was right!! because clearly a guy who had actual wrestling training wouldn't have looked that bad." But again, Phil told me it was B-Boy. Now, in fairness to B-Boy, maybe he's a method wrestler and really got into his character and thought "okay, you have to look bad. Bad enough for the announcer to confuse you for some lowlife fan. Wear cargo shorts. Pooch out your belly a bit. Throw punches that wouldn't break wet paper. Look like a man who has not had formal training in any sort of occupation, least of all pro wrestling. BEEE that possible fan, running in, confusing announcers." So that's a possibility.

PAS: I liked this but didn't love it. Mundo has looked pretty bad brawling during this entire show, and it was rough when he had to exchange punches. I also thought this went long, I like that give main events this long without commercial breaks, but this dragged a bit. Also kind of silly to have a surprise run in, have it be a guy nowone knows, in a match where there are already lots of non-surprise run ins. Did love all of the big bumps, which were totally crazy, that Puma fall into the ladder was bonkers, and Ryck was great, the set up for the nut shot where he tries to climb two ladders ruled. I always like Big Show in ladder matches and Ryck played a similar roll of a monster totally out of his element, but still dangerous. Nice bump by Cuerto in the post match angle too, that guy is just awesome.


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Friday, December 12, 2014

MLJ: 2010: A Garza Odyssey 6: Atlantis, Mr. Niebla, Último Guerrero vs Blue Panther, Brazo de Plata, Héctor Garza

Taped 2010-03-12 @ Arena México
Atlantis, Mr. Niebla, Último Guerrero vs Blue Panther, Brazo de Plata, Héctor Garza

1:27 in

The Porky matches keep on coming. I had thought this was a full unit GdI match coming in but now I see it's Niebla as well. He looks heavier than I'm used to. The idea that he's done something to get into better shape now sort of boggles my mind considering how much he phones things in these days. This was a pretty tecnico leaning crowd with Porky and Panther both getting chants and Garza getting shouts from the women. Atlantis and UG came out in pretty cool matching green gear. I'm going to say it's for St. Patrick's Day even though that probably isn't true at all. Atlantis was definitely slapping hands on his way in. He'd been a rudo forever at this point.

Let's go over what worked first. The rudos here played into Porky's act much better than in the previous match with Taichi and Naito. The flip side is that it felt about as worn over as possible. UG works well with Porky. He always has, from what I've seen, but if you've seen it once, you've seen it a hundred times. It was better when all three were in there against him, feeding his flip over on the ropes and the headscissors/headlock takeover combo and someone hitting him and UG and Atlantis both pointing to Niebla so that Porky can crush him, which was followed up by both of them dropping down so that he can crush them. It's all fun stuff, executed as well as could be expected but there's only so much you can watch it.

What else? Garza looked great. He had one segment in the tercera where he was up against the world. He hit his stuff very well and worked in the character bits perfectly. He'd take off a piece of clothing and then get nailed, come back with a nice piece of offense, take off another, get nailed again, come back, etc. Panther was fine for what we had of him too. Niebla was generally unoffensive even if he was sluggish given his size and I wouldn't say that he worked together with his partners perfectly.

I liked the finish too. The tecnicos had taken over. Porky hit all of his comedy spots. Garza hit a giant dropkick and set Panther up for a dive. Then Garza went for a dive of his own but Porky stopped him and hit a running plancha off the apron onto everyone. That left UG and Garza, but more importantly left the refs distracted (and why wouldn't it?). UG dropped down faking being fouled and Garza was DQed. It was strangely believable even if complete and utter bullshit.

All of those things were the sort of elements that could have led to this match standing out. They were all good. Unfortunately, they were also all that was good. They were pretty much all there was to the match. It was missing the bridging substance that makes a match like this emotionally resonate and gives it meaning. Everything was so slight. The primera had that little UG/Porky exchange, and then a nice little Atlantis/Panther one. I had been hoping they'd get some time together because that's a match-up that interests me, even in 2010, but it was nice and it was little and it was over. Garza and Niebla didn't even really get to start before the rudos swarmed. They had a nice little spot of clubbering Porky but again, nice and little. Over quickly.

The segunda was just as slight. I liked the comeback well enough with the rudos hitting corner moves on Panther, finished by the senton de la muerte and then trying it again to Garza who stepped up the ropes and flipped backwards but the beatdown leading up to it had been absolutely non-existent. It didn't seem cut to me either, just short and slight and unfortunate because there was good stuff here but none of the meat to support it. I don't think a match, even a trios match, needs to be twenty-five minutes to be good, but this is a very good example of the mindset that it really does need at least some time to develop.

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