Segunda Caida

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

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Lucha Underground Episode 12: They Call Him Cage

PAS: Cage really needs a manager, what is Jeff G. Bailey doing these days.

1. Fenix vs. Mil Muertes

PAS: This is the best Muertes has looked, (not literally, his pants still suck) I really liked his jabs and big right hands and all of his throws looked good. Fenix mostly just stuck and moved which kept him from doing some of his dumber more elaborate stuff. Still have no idea why they had a David v. Goliath opener, on the same show with a David v. Goliath main event

ER: I thought this match was awesome. Both guys laid in shots, Fenix bumped all over, and everything looked cool. Perfect little WorldWide match. Fenix peppered in a couple stiff elbow shots, great running knee and then of course spectacular leans into everything Muertes throws. I rewound a couple different moments in this which is always a good sign. Loved how Fenix bumped that running punch from Muertes, loved how he took the spear, loved him getting dumped by a deadlift suplex and really loved him getting plopped on his head in the corner from a belly to belly. Really liked both guys in this. Just a perfect short match.

PAS: They are still great at the vignettes, as Cage as crazy street fighter crushing bottles with his hands is the best use of him

ER: This was great, loved that shot of Cage looking at the camera while a dude ran up and broke a bottle over his head and Cage no sold it. This episode is off to a killer start.

2. Argenis, Super Fly & Aerostar vs. Mr. Cisco, Bael & Cortez Castro

PAS: Really fun match, the crew are one of my favorite things in this fed, even Bael looked a little better then he had in the past. Just balls to the wall stuff, with Aerostar breaking out a little from the pack, he really moves smooth, just effortless flow with all of his moves, and some really nutso dives. I liked the AAA trio (although it ignores the Aerostar v. Super Fly mask v. mask beef) they should give them all matching gear and a gimmick. I could see this matchup a ton of different times.

ER: Man I wasn't expecting this to get 10+ minutes but I'm glad it did! Tons of crazy stuff in this. Aerostar standing on Argenis shoulders, while Argenis himself stood on the ropes, to deliver a crossbody was nuts and something I've never seen. Also loved the corner dropkick sequence that saw the Crew each get to attempt to scrape Aerostar's mask off onto their boots. We had some wild dives, Cisco getting rana'd off the top onto everybody, the weird Striker overhype for Argenis (a couple weeks ago he compared him to Silver King and Dr. Wagner, who he is absolutely nothing like, and this week he compares him to Hijo Del Santo), Cisco continuing to be a chubby little bump machine and doing a bunch of nice little things (loved how he really went for the legs on drop downs), and arguably the most I've ever enjoyed Cortez/Reyes. This episode is on a freaking roll.

PAS: I know I don't want to see Vampiro v. Konan in the ring, but I did enjoy their face off. I am a fan of Konan on this show and I like all of the history you felt in that face off. Maybe they could do a poor mans Eddie Marlin v. Tommy Gilbert match cowboy boot match.

ER: Boy, for two guys I never liked in their prime, and two guys I know would be horrible now……I really want to see a Vampiro/Konnan fight now. I really liked their interactions throughout this interview, and maybe if they know their own extreme limitations they can hobble something out? I love old guy fights so if it's them potatoing each other for a few minutes I could see me loving it more than anything else they've ever done.

3. Prince Puma vs. Cage

ER: This match was weird as I enjoyed the ring work of both men, while at the same time had a major problem with the match structure. In a vacuum, both guys looked good. Cage got to do his power offense and had some neat little ways to cut off offense, loved his little shoulder shrug to block Puma offense, loved him burying his shoulder into Puma's stomach in the corner, then shaking him off. A lot of Puma's stuff looked nice, he really lands with accuracy and it makes his flying stuff look better than most. But the problem was they've presented Cage as this bulldozer street fighter and now he's wrestling the same as Fenix. It's that horrible Abyss paradox where he's larger and can bump, but would bump exactly the same no matter if he was wrestling Chris Sabin or Rhino or Sonjay Dutt. Here Cage breaks out his 2nd rope moonsault and bumps all over for Puma, which is impressive, but completely absurd. I hate this even stevens kind of thing anyway, but when there's this kind of size difference you just can't work this kind of match. And this is a corner they backed themselves into when having a couple large guys in a fed made up of a bunch of smaller guys. Phil mentioned earlier they booked a David & Goliath undercard match on a show with a David & Goliath main event. And then the main event goes and just has a layout the same as any other guys in the fed.

PAS: Agree with Eric, this was Cage trying to prove he could work at the same speed as Puma, while Puma is trying to throw suplexes. Big Ryck is a much smarter worker, and this match would have been way better if Cage worked it like he worked the vignette street fight. Did like some of the spots, and the finish with the nasty Konan blade job ruled, but I wanted the match to be better.

ER: So that mystery Asian woman may be a vampire. I would actually kind of love if they added in a From Dusk Til Dawn crossover story, because why not. Who will Matanza (?) be? Will he be immortal? Whatever the case I loved how Dario sold this whole exchange. I think this was actually my favorite episode of the series so far.

PAS: I wonder if Matanza is the monster being kept in the basement with the key. I wonder who is going to play him, seems like they already have too many giant characters, although Kongo Kong would be awesome in this fed


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Friday, January 30, 2015

New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV Episode 3 Workrate Report

Looks like this will be another one match show, which makes sense if you're going to clip up a match to fit in two, like they did last week.

1. Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi (4/7/13)

So according to my DVR programming description, this match was the Observer MOTY for 2013. And, it was good. I'm not sure I would have guessed that it won Match of the Year honors, no matter how much Mauro screamed that it was a masterpiece and like the best combination of Steamboat/Flair and Austin/Rock. But it was good. I liked that Tanahashi established the arm work early, which is a smart thing to do to a guy who kept saying he wanted to win with the Rainmaker (even though we all knew that he was clearly going to hit the Rainmaker and use the arm when it was convenient). Still Tanahashi's arm work looked real good. I dug the wrenched in arm bars and really love one point where he started hammering down on the arm while then uppercutting it on the upstroke. Okada did a fine visual representation of selling it, making sure to hold it and touch it after doing a move. But it never made him hesitate when doing those moves. Still hit his elbow drop, still hit a couple Rainmakers, still threw a couple suplexes, still did his STF submission a couple times. He would always hold his arm afterwards, but at that point he was merely paying lip service. I get working through the pain on a couple moves, but going to the effort to sell the whole time while still doing almost all the moves exactly the same way seems like a lot of pointless work to me. It hurt in between moves, but obviously didn't hurt enough to make him consider not doing any of these moves. Maybe it was supposed to show how determined he was to win the title? The problem is that wrestlers aren't good enough actors to show determination. They just kind of growl. But they always growl, so it's hard to convey different emotional levels of growling. But even with that I still enjoyed it. I liked Tanahashi playing the shades of grey. He knew a lot of people in the crowd wanted Okada to win, but he also knew tons of people wanted him to win. Some of the crowd booed some of his actions, but it was all in the name of defending his title and nothing was flat out heelish, more just showing that he knew the threat he was up against. So we had some good near falls, good reversals that actually felt organic and not overly choreographed. Overall a fun match.

Now some things I really didn't like:

Mauro really has to tone things way the fuck down. This show and last he kicks into overdrive scream mode and it's already laughably bad, but for the people that enjoy it I imagine it's going to ring hollow in a couple episodes when he's acting like every single match is the greatest moment in the history of this sport. The excessively grand screaming about "WHAT IS IN THEIR DNA THAT MAKES THIS POSSIBLE!?" is kind of amusing unless you realize he's dead serious.

Okada really needs to practice putting on certain submissions. He stumbled a couple of times trying to lock on things, including one of the more business exposing things I've ever seen. He was attempting to lock some sort of float over butterfly submission to put pressure on Tanahashi's neck (after Tanahashi took a nasty spike DDT on the apron), and Okada kept botching the float over. So Tanahashi literally just had to sit still on the mat while Okada tried over and over and over and over again to properly apply this move. I've never seen anything like this before. The crowd started laughing at one point. Okada started laughing at one point. Imagine Flair trying to lock on the Figure 4 but continually tripping over Steamboat's leg, then just trying again and again, while Steamboat just idly sits there waiting to be put in the move. So awful. Again, I've never seen anything like this before. If John Cena fell over 5 times in a row while trying to put on the STFU, I imagine people would be citing that moment years later as a reason why he is horrible. I can specifically see Meltzer citing this and using his "first day of wrestling school bad" line. Yet Okada gets to skate.

And finally, that fucking ref is the worst. Had to look his name up, "Red Shoes" UnnoWhat could have been a real dramatic moment of the match involving crawling to the ropes to break a submission, was completely shit on by this hack making muggy cross-eyed Milton Berle faces. He does more of that ear cupping, leaning his face alllll the way into the faces of both men, really making it all about him at one point by standing up mid submission and doing a fucking Hulk Hogan finger point to the timekeeper as if to say "GET THAT BELL READY MOTHERFUCKER! THIS MATCH IS ENDING SOON!!" At one point he clearly blocks both of their faces from the camera zoom with his own face, really making sure the ringside camera was getting his face in there, really doing his job out there. This guy puts to shame any instance of Shawn Michaels as a guest ref. Seriously cannot stand this guy.

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MLJ: Mocho Cota in 1993 III: Villano III/Solar/Latin Lover v. Jerry Estrada/Mocho Cota/El Cobarde II

Taped 8-6-93
Villano III/Solar/Latin Lover v. Jerry Estrada/Mocho Cota/El Cobarde II

I'll be honest. The plan was to watch Monday's match and then Wednesday's match and then follow it up with the Satanico vs Lizmark title match. In watching those, though, Cota vs. Lover really stole the show and since we don't have an apuestas match between them (I think it never happened for one reason or another; he might have left), I figured I'd finish off the week by going back to the other match we do have in 1993.

This hadn't been as appealing to me on paper, though. I'm not sure why. Maybe it was because I have no idea who Cobarde II is. Cobarde means coward which is a pretty fun gimmick actually. Cobarde I died in 83 at age 35. I'm guessing this was his brother. He had a good physical presence but I didn't really get a great look at him here. This was lacking Satanico though, and didn't have the pull of Eddy. It was still enjoyable for what it was, even if there was a certain level of mastery missing from it.

Estrada was fairly amusing. He took one Hamrick bump (as opposed to an Estrada bump which he didn't take) and most of his offense consisted of moving out of the way so that his opponent landed on his face. That happened a lot actually. Solar, on the other hand, had this really great quebradora (which, up there with Ingobernables, is one of the two words I always leave a letter off of and I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad one that no one ever calls me on it.), where he brought the guy up onto his shoulder and turned with. No one in CMLL does it now regularly, from what I've seen and that's a shame. Of course, he did it and did it and did it here, so it got a little old too. Villano III was just past 40 here but I've seen better outings from him, before and after this. As a guy to help hold up a match, he was fine though.

We didn't get full entrances here, but the valets were still there, with Estrada's looking about as trashy as possible for this point in human history. Cota had a crazy technicolor robe. Lover never had any girls with him which seems to be against the gimmick unless the idea is that they didn't want the women in the crowd to get jealous. This was yet another match where the rudos rushed to take the advantage right at the beginning, after everyone was announced. I'm not sure if that is better or worse than the ambush on the ramp we see all the time now.

The pairings were Estrada vs Villano, Cobarde vs Solar, and Lover vs Cota. There was a fun early moment where they held Lover so that Cota could slap his chest a few times like Tarzan and chop him. This is my last Cota match for a while so I'm going to be liberal with the gifs.

There was also a good amount of the heel ref stopping the tecnicos from running in and saving which is still something I find offputting since I almost never feel like the tecnicos being unable to make the save needs to be explained in any other lucha I watch. It's one of those things that SHOULD be a problem on paper but through the traditions and norms that they work in, usually always works out very organically as they switch up the beatdown as guys leave the ring. Most trios matches I've seen don't work a Face-In-Peril style of heat segment but instead an equal opportunity ebb and flow style. I don't think this is any more successful than that, especially since, after a while, Lover just rolled out of the ring anyway.

Eventually, the tecnicos mounted a comeback after Estarda lacklusterly hit Cobarde by accident. Solar posted Estrada on the outside. Lover hit a big suplex on Cota and then tossed him by his hair. Then he punched him through the ropes, which again was gif worthy.

They cycled through some pairings after this, with Estrada (looking like a poor man's Marty Jannetty) going against Solar. It was pretty clunky but at least full of character. Next came Villano and Cota and this was actually really good, with some good chain shtick. Cota even went up for a leap into a power bomb which led to Lover flying in to pick up a pin and then another awesome but completely extraneous quebradora by Solar after the other two had been pinned.

Between falls Lover poked Cota in the chest causing Cota to cower, only to do a taunt when Lover turned around and then put his hands behind his back afterwards. Then he hid behind the ref, ran off, and taunted again. It deserves two gifs.

The segunda had its fun moments admidst the clunkiness. There was a weird exchanged between Estrada and Villano where they just ducked each other's moves or put their head down to get hit over and over again. That ended with the Hamrick bump and a dive tease. The did a good job keeping Lover from beating on Cota too much. He had one opportunity after knock him out with a kick but Estrada came in from behind to hold him on the floor. Cota also did a really nice cheaty dropkick using the ropes while on the apron when Solar's head was held in the corner. Cobarde's big moment was getting shrugged off on a monkey flip attempt by Solar and then letting him catapult him through the second rope before eating a tope. Eventually all of it sort of oozed into a finish with more missed moves between Villano and Estrada before Villano locked on an Octopus for the win. Post match, Lover kept grabbing Cota's beard in order to tease hitting him.

Fun match but definitely not smooth and not up to the level of the two that would follow it.  I think these three matches actually go much further in helping the case for Cota than hurting it though.

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

1976 Match of the Year

Killer Karl Kox v. Dick Murdoch AJPW 12/9/76

PAS: There are some classic long AJPW title matches this year, but fuck that noise, give me Dick Murdoch and Killer Karl Kox beating each other bloody. Kox opens up Murdoch with brass knuckles and a ring bell hammer, and Murdoch sprays blood all over the ring. Nothing particularly fancy as this is basically the bar fight between the two meanest old Vietnam vets at the VFW hall, they had been needling each other for years until finally they kicked the barstools over and let it loose. Kox may have almost as great punches as Murdoch, and may have had an even prettier brainbuster. The match didn't have a real finish as both guys just started beating up the locker room just so they could keep pounding on each other.

ER: I imagine a lot of people would be turned off by a match like this, that featured two men literally punching each other for 20+ minutes. There is a dropkick, and Murdoch uses the Cattle Branding. Everything else is punches. Some people won't like that. Those people are not people that I watch professional wrestling with. This match is magnificent. It looks like that early scene in The Apostle where Robert Duvall's Apostle E.F. takes a baseball bat beating to his wife's new youth minister lover (jeez it's weird thinking Murdoch was 5 years younger than me when this match took place). This is the Director's Cut of that scene. This match is just beautiful in its simplicity. Two men fighting. Both bump great, love KKK getting hung up in the ropes, bouncing all over. Loved all the knux shots, loved Kox blading for the Cattle Branding, Murdoch hits a gusher, and literally every single punch thrown over 20 minutes looks great. This is a classic.

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Ongoing All Time MOTY List

After the success of our ongoing Match of the Year list, we decided to launch a collaborative all encompassing match of the year list. Eric and I will put our heads together and come up with a MOTY for ever year we have tape. Like our other lists this will be subject to change, if we come across something we like better it can be overridden. Feel free to suggest other matches in the comment section of the year choices.

1950 Buddy Rogers vs. Lou Thesz Chicago 6/21/50
1951 Donn Lewin vs. Leo Garibaldi California Wrestling 4/30/51

1962 Dan Aubriot vs. Pierre Bernaert French Catch 9/11/62
1963 Golden Moose Cholak vs. Larry Chene Chicago Wrestling 3/15/63
1965 Gilbert Cesca/Ben Chemoil vs. Anton Tejero/Inca Peruano French Catch 3/12/65
1967 Anton Tejero vs. Walter Borders French Catch 8/29/67
1968 Jean Ferrer vs. Franz Van Buyten French Catch 1/20/68
1969 Johnny Valentine vs. Wild Bull Curry NWA Houston 6/20/69

1971 Bert Royal/Vic Faulkner vs. Tony & Roy St. Clair WoS 1/12/71
1974 Antonio Inoki vs. Strong Kobayashi NJPW 3/19/74
1975 The Destroyer vs. The Spirit AJPW 7/25/75
1976 Killer Karl Kox vs. Dick Murdoch AJPW 12/9/76
1977 Harley Race vs. Terry Funk NWA Houston 7/1/77
1978 Wahoo McDaniel vs. Harley Race NWA Houston 2/10/78
1979 The Spoiler vs. Wahoo McDaniel NWA Houston 4/21/79

1980 Roddy Piper/Rick Martel vs. Buddy Rose/Ed Wiskowski PNW 8/2/80
1981 Andre the Giant vs. Stan Hansen NJPW 9/23/81
1983 Sangre Chicana vs. MS-1 CMLL 9/23/83
1985 Jerry Lawler vs. Bill Dundee CWA 12/21/85
1986 Ric Flair vs. Ricky Morton NWA 7/5/86
1987 Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Riki Choshu NJPW 6/9/87
1988 Stan Hansen/Terry Gordy vs. Genichiro Tenryu/Toshiaki Kawada AJPW 12/16/88
1989 Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Kazuo Yamazaki UWF 7/24/89

1990 Atsushi Onita/Tarzan Goto vs. Kendo Nagasaki/Masanobu Kurisu FMW 4/27/90
1991 El Hijo Del Santo vs. Brazo de Oro UWA 1/13/91
1992 Kenta Kobashi/Tsuyoshi Kikuchi vs. Doug Furnas/Dan Kroffat AJPW 5/25/92
1993 Riki Choshu/Shinya Hashimoto vs. Genichiro Tenryu/Takashi Ishikawa WAR 4/2/93
1994 Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Toshiaki Kawada AJPW 6/3/94
1997 El Hijo Del Santo vs. Negro Casas CMLL 9/19/97
1998 Shinobu Kandori vs. Yumiko Hotta LLPW 3/21/98
1999 El Hijo Del Santo/Negro Casas vs. Bestia Salvaje/Scorpio Jr. CMLL 3/19/99

2000 Villano III vs. Atlantis CMLL 3/17/00
2001 La Parka vs. El Hijo Del Santo Monterey 12/23/01
2002 American Dragon vs. Low-Ki JAPW 6/7/02
2003 Tamon Honda vs. Kenta Kobashi NOAH 4/13/03
2004 Necro Butcher vs. Toby Klein IWA-MS 6/25/04
2005 Daisuke Ikeda vs. Yuki Ishikawa FUTEN 4/24/05
2006 Team Anarchy (Shadow Jackson/Nemesis/Slim J/Ace Rockwell) vs. The Devil's Rejects (Iceberg/Tank/Azrael/Shaun Tempers) NWA Anarchy 7/22/06
2007 Chris Hero vs. Eddie Kingston IWA-MS 9/29/07
2008 Blue Panther vs. Villano V CMLL 9/19/08
2009 Daisuke Ikeda/Takeshi Ono vs. Manabu Suruga/Takahiro Oba FUTEN 4/26/09

2010 Daisuke Ikeda/Takahiro Oba vs. Makoto Hashi/Kengo Mashimo FUTEN 10/25/10
2011 Dick Togo vs. Antonio Honda DDT 1/30/11
2012 Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena WWE 4/29/12
2014 The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family WWE 2/23/14
2015 Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Low-Ki JAPW 11/14/15
2016 Black Terry vs. Wotan Chilanga Mask 8/21/16
2017 AJ Styles vs. Brock Lesnar WWE Survivor Series 11/19/17

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Lucha Underground Episode 11: Last Luchador Standing Workrate Report

1. Cortez Castro & Mr. Cisco vs. Pimpinela Escarlata & Mascarita Sagrada

ER: I've actually been liking Cisco a lot during his LU run and I thought he looked great in this. He bumps way bigger than Cortez and I think he has a bunch of really great offense. He takes moves way better than the other guys and this match was a good showcase for that, as Pimpi has a few moves that require both heels to bump at the same time and Cisco always looked better. Sagrada was also downplayed as he hits a couple ranas and a flip dive (which B-Boy bumps terribly and makes it look like he got barely grazed with a Nerf football). I like how the rudos isolate him and make the most of the size disadvantage. I still like what Pimpi is bringing to the fed (even though I've seen him getting dumped on a lot). I always think he looks fine and again, Cisco made a lot of his stuff look great.

PAS: I really enjoyed this, the crew added in a lot of nasty looking cheap shots, and Pimpi may not have the athletic juice of his younger days, he still knows how to lay it in, time comebacks and elicit sympathy. I am adding my voice to the praising of Cisco. What the fuck happened to B-Boy? He was always a guys who's instincts I questioned a bit, but his execution was always good, he has looked awful in every moment of action in this fed, did he have a stroke or something?

ER: Post match and everybody turns on Big Ryck and jumps him, brutally burning his eye with his own cigar. Nasty stuff. I'm not sure what to make of the turn but Ryck seems an odd guy to be a babyface in this promotion as it's a little tough to regularly get behind a guy who won't be an underdog in any situation. Maybe Cueto digs the "strength in numbers" thing but still curious about storyline reasons for Dario paying fat stacks of cash to take out the other guy he was paying cash. Striker is still WWE conditioned as he states Ryck has been taken to a "medical facility".

PAS: I have enjoyed the look and vibe of the backstage stuff in this fed, but the motivations have often been lacking. Cueto has great delivery, but nothing he does makes any sense. What happened to the monster he had locked up anyway? Why did he pay one group of thugs to take out another thug he payed to take out John Morrison? I am worried we are getting the same lazy writing that has plagued wrestling for the last 20 years, with a slightly flashier package.

ER: Cage interview sure wasn't much. This man has not been given the gift of speech. He had an almost comically bad delivery. Vampiro looked absurd, like Vic Mackey going under cover to stop a Byz Lats drug ring.

PAS: I like Vampiro as an aggressive interviewer. He is better in that role, than at commentary.

2. Super Fly vs. Pentagon Jr.

ER: Kind of an aimless match with a couple of cool spots. A lot of this was centered around Pentagon attacking Super Fly's leg, and Super Fly yelling about his battered leg, but outside of yelling and holding his leg after getting kicked it never seemed to bother him too much. We do get a bunch of fun superkicks that just made me want a Chris Adams style superkick match, and Pentagon does his brutal dropkick to a moonsaulting opponent, but this didn't add up to much for me.

PAS: I liked this more then Eric. Pentagon is at his best as a nasty asskicker, and I like him beating on dudes better then flying around trying to match spot for spot with guys like Fenix.

3. Sexy Star vs. Mariachi Loco

ER: This felt like the kind of match they should have had when Sexy Star debuted. Instead this match was spent acting like Star has always been an equal to her male counterparts, when they could have just done something like this the first week and had it established that she's equal. That said I liked this match and Star's comebacks and offensive runs were logical, and she even brought some stiff work especially with some kicks to the face. I dug all her armdrags and her capitalizing on Mariachi's mistakes made sense in the match.

PAS: Yeah this was pretty good, Sexy Star was really laying it in, and Marachi Loco was good too as a bumbling heel bumping around. Not really sure where they are going with her now that the Chavo feud is over, but I wouldn't mind Pimpi turning heel and a feud between those two.

4. Last Luchador Standing: King Cuerno vs. Drago

ER: Well this was disappointing, but I'm also a guy who dislikes Last Man Standing matches more than a lot of people. It's a stip that just constantly interrupts the action, with a big move and then lying around waiting. There have been LMS matches that I've enjoyed but usually with me it just ends up getting in the way of what could have been a fine normal match. And it doesn't help when you have a goofy ending where apparently it counts as a guy not being able to stand, when the other guy is physically preventing him from doing so? That took what could have been a brutal finish in a No DQ match, into a confusing finish. Both guys have shown a good rhythm together, and this stip took away that rhythm, as instead of a grueling match it just came across as a restart after every move. We still got big spots like the Cuerno tope and a sick Michinoku Driver to the floor, I just don't think overall the stip helped them.

PAS: I didn't mind the pacing as much as Eric, Cuerno is already deliberate, which is what I like about him, so the pauses kind of worked with the pacing of his matches. The pace differences is what I like about this series. Still that was a pretty dumb finish. Especially if this was supposed to end the feud. This show had some fun action, but it really made me question their booking


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MLJ: Mocho Cota in 1993 II: El Satanico/Fishman/Mocho Cota v. El Rayo de Jalisco Jr./Lizmark/Latin Lover

Taped 10.9.93 @ Gimnasio Olímpico Juan de la Barrera, Ciudad de México, Distrito Federal
El Satanico/Fishman/Mocho Cota v. El Rayo de Jalisco Jr./Lizmark/Latin Lover

On paper, this seems pretty comparable to the match I reviewed on Monday. Grundy was a drag on that one, even if there were a few specific things he could do well. Here we have Rayo, and the impression I've gotten from the few matches of his I've seen, are that he's a big ham, and an attention hog, maybe a proto Wagner, Jr (though they're pretty close to the same age and I find Wagner more charismatic and able to back it up better). Fishman always struck me as someone who was perfectly acceptable in a trios match, but I should watch some of his singles matches at some point. He was into his 40s here but then so were Satanico and Lizmark.

As before the entrances were great. Cota had some sort of horror mask and sort of an Imperial Guard valet. Fishman came out to We Are the Champions with a girl in fishscales. Satanico, amazingly, came out with these red klansmen of doom. Lizmark was out there with a cape and Tirantes, and Latin Lover instead of coming out with two women, came out with none, but at least he had some flamethrower thing.

This ended up being just two caidas but it had everything you might have wanted from it, a massive, violent beatdown, the tease of a comeback, and then the actual one. I won't go through everything but I loved the beatdown. The rudos took right over by charging forward and they played the numbers game well. Cota hit his fireman's carry into a hotshot again and it looked even better this time. They held onto Lizmark's mask straps to hold him into the corner so he couldn't fight back. Unsurprisingly Rayo made sure to fight back as much as possible before getting overwhelmed. My biggest problem with this was the heelishness of the ref which really took the heat off of the wrestlers and put it on him. I like the modern CMLL style more where the ref is just hapless and helpless in the face of rudos being rudos so it's not his fault, it's theirs.

Towards the end of the caida, after being cut down at every point, the tecnicos rallied. Lover, instead of coming in directly through the ropes when it was his turn, ran around the ring (and the heel ref) to stage a quick ambush. Everything broke down to crazy brawling with Cota and Lover mounting and hammering each other. Eventually, though Cota hit some massive headbutts to gain control of the mount, symbolically cutting off the comeback and letting the rudos pick up the primera.

Cota kept on shining to start the segunda. He measured Lover with knees and bit at his wound and was all over him until the tecnicos charged back again. It was a pretty rousing comeback with quebadoras and a powerbomb and Lizmark palming Satanico in the face, mask ripping, chair shots, the works. Cota bled and Lover continuously ripped his face apart.

This continued on for a few minutes, some very solid action with a lot of hate and blood and mask ripping behind it until it built to all three pairings getting highlighted in the ring one at a time. It ended with Rayo and Fishman, and Rayo, furious, grabbing the mask off for the rudo win (on paper at least). Satisfying trios. There was a bit of meandering at times and the heel ref stuff was irritating in a bubble but was probably more tolerable in context.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Tuesday Night Digging in the Crates - Santo/Espanto v. Panther/Blackman

El Hijo Del Santo/Espanto Jr. v. Black Man/Blue Panther 3/5/90

During my random internet surfing I find this previously unseen lucha handheld in the middle of a 6 hour file on youtube (1:58). This was listed as the first tag match of rivals Espanto and Santo, and like one might expect it was a a countdown until the turn. More of an exhibition then a great match, it was a cool chance to watch Santo and Panther do their dance, along with some fun brawling by Blackman. Neat discovery

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Monday, January 26, 2015

MLJ: Mocho Cota in 1993 I: Eddy Guerrero/El Satanico/Mocho Cota vs Lizmark/Latin Lover/Solomon Grundy

Taped 8/27/93 @ Gimnasio Olímpico Juan de la Barrera, Ciudad de México, Distrito Federal
Eddy Guerrero/El Satanico/Mocho Cota vs Lizmark/Latin Lover/Solomon Grundy

I started watching lucha through the DVDVR 80s set. It was very much a run before you can walk scenario where I fell right into really incredible matches without the background to wholly understand what I was watching. I'm still working on that now in some ways, as you can see with my stumblings three times a week here. I came to really appreciate a number of luchadores right from the get go though. Two of those were El Satanico and Mocho Cota.

With Satanico, we have a lot more easily available footage in a number of different settings and against more opponents. We have more payoff apuestas matches and everything from trios wars to insane skits. He's absolutely one of my favorites though, incredibly versatile and really owning his character and truly the baddest of the bad. Cota, we have less of, and I don't think he was as well regarded. He had a stint in jail in the early 90s and upon his release in 1993, he really didn't fit into the workrate paradigm (as OJ points out here). I think a lot of us have come a far way as wrestling fans in being able to appreciate performing and character and the more theatrical elements of wrestling as opposed to just workrate, and Cota, especially at this stage of his career, fits into that mold so much better. That's not to say he doesn't pick up the pace when need be, but he could move the crowd with his antics and he's hugely entertaining. Those tend to be traits that I value in 2015 more than how nice someone's execution is or how quick they move. When I saw these matches listed, they seemed to be leading to a Satanico vs Lizmark singles match, so I thought i'd hit two of them and then go with that, but by the end of the watching I knew I wanted to spend the time with a third Cota and Satanico trios instead.

I have no context here. There's actually one earlier Cota match I see online (Villano III/Solar/L. Lover v. J. Estrada/M. Cota/Cobarde II from 8/6/93) but I just don't have time to hit it as well, even though it probably plays into the Cota/Lover fueding. I wanted to start with this one insetad because it had Satanico and it had a relatively young Eddy Guerrero who I just haven't seen much of in Mexico. Granted, the other one had Villano III and Solar so that might have been fun too and I'm sure I'll watch it eventually. I'm not sure I've ever seen Lover outside of a Royal Rumble appearance and Grundy is some massive guy from the states who is there to basically be a grumpy massive babyface in overalls. A prop.

My first takeaway is how much I love AAA entrances during this period. Everyone had an elaborate entrance with their own themed ring girl. Cota had this amazing robe and a hat that kept falling over as he came out to the Imperial March. It segued right into Panama for Eddy and his gringos locos gear (or at least that's what I think it was) was equally amazing. then, of course, Satanico comes out with fire and brimstone and it's all completely of its time but entirely remarkable. We don't get to see the tecnicos come out unfortunately.

Often times these days in CMLL we get a primera that starts hot with the rudos engaging in a beat down but rarely does it feel as visceral as it did here. There's something flashier now, less violent. There are more moves and less brutality. There's plenty of the latter here. One of the few moves was Cota chucking Lover around with a fireman's carry. The rest was mainly him beating him around the ringside area. They managed obscured fouls and using Grundy literally as that prop, tossing Lover into him. Eddy held his own in this but he mainly had Grundy to beat on so nothing was too compelling. They took the caida with a Cota crab and a Satanico standing submission that I should know the name of, the one that's abdominal stretch-y.

I think Cota shined in the beatdown, through his focus and intensity and willingness to interact with the crowd. He spent a lot of the early segunda just choking the life out of Lover or punching him into oblivion as they cut back to shots of Satanico and Eddy clubbering Grundy on the outside or of Eddy hitting Grundy with endless face pokes. Eventually, though, Grundy's girth was just too much and he reversed a whip into the corner, crushing Satanico (who cried foul immediately). The comeback was a little weird, especially for Cota, who sort of just ambled around the ring beating on Lover still even as his partners were getting routed. They were casually waiting their turn until it was Lover's time to take over. I get what they were doing but it didn't quite work. What did work was Cota dashing out of the ring as his partners were defeated, running through the crowd in order to avoid Lover and a chair. It was amazingly craven and hugely entertaining and frankly, the sort of sentiment I appreciate way more than a lot of really smoothly hit back and forth arm drag spots.

Eventually Lover did get Cota in the ring and he slammed him down hard. Cota rolled right out though. He was stumbling around the ring only to get kicked in the face between the ropes in a fit of perfect timing. What followed was an exasperated laugh at the temerity of it all. I don't know if he wasn't expecting it and thought it was hilarious or was just playing a defiant heel but it was a fun character moment.

The brunt of the tercera was Eddy getting to show off but maybe taking a bit too much offense considering the finish. I thought his body language in trying to wrangle Grundy was very good. At one point, though, he was up on his shoulders, and Grundy dropped back and it was brutal. I thought he recovered a little too soon from that. It was an ebb and flow after that. Satanico and Cota destroyed Lover but Grundy came back with big headbutts. The rudos turned the tide again and used Grundy as a weapon against Lizmark, which was followed by Eddy dropkicking him out (Grundy took a surprisingly good bump). Lover rushed in, making his biggest comeback of the match, really taking the fight to Cota, but ultimately getting tricked up in a victory roll counter for three. One springboard dropkick by Eddy onto Grundy and the rudos picked up the win.

Post match, Lover kept trying to go after Cota, who made a hasty retreat to the stage where, after pulling Satanico up, he did one of the most amazing taunts you'll see this week. Ultimately, this had a ton of good stuff, but was way too disjointed. After one match, I think Cota absolutely still had it. It was just that what he had wasn't what a lot of the hardcore fanbase was looking for in 1993. I think his performance here holds up really well in a more post-workrate 2015 though.

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

2015 WWE Royal Rumble Live Blog

ER: Well, this show doesn't look that good on paper, but Rumble has been my favorite "big" WWE match since I was a kid so I always go in with unrealistic hopes. I'll do my not-normally-necessary skim through of the kickoff show. I really love Renee Young's short haircut. Looks awesome. Byron Saxton looks like he's animated.

1. The New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston w/ Xavier Woods) vs. Cesaro, Tyson Kidd

ER: Well this match would have been much more promising if they had dropped Rose and Kofi. But a 6 man is a pretty hard thing to mess up so we'll see. I haven't seen The New Day as a team before, but I like that their gear looks like a coordinated Christian rock band. I'd like to see promo photos of them on a beach, all facing different directions, one of them with arms lifted towards the heavens. Boy has anybody's stock dropped more than Cesaro's over the last calendar year? He's one of my favorites but teaming with Kidd and Rose (two guys who would be non-shocking future endeavors) on the pre-show is just brutal. And hey I just realized that the match is actually Cesaro/Kidd vs. Kofi/E. I'm gonna go ahead and edit that match description, but leave in my opening remarks so I sound like a doofus. This was a pretty forgettable match with a nice little finishing stretch. Cesaro threw some nice boots and hit a nice uppercut on Kofi leading to the pin, Big E got some nice moments with a massive belly to belly and his cool spear through the ropes. Kofi's offense still can't crack an egg. Crowd was actually really hot for this match, which is a good sign going into the show.

ER: I always actually dig the Royal Rumble by the numbers segment they introduced a few years ago. Though this year when it went "38: Number of participants who are WWE Hall of Famers" they showed a bunch of dead guys, so it made me wonder what the number of deceased participants all time.  Also a lot of dead guys when they were talking about the largest Rumble participants. Also made me remember that every year until I knew better I would always pick the fattest or largest guy to win. Stupid kid.

2. New Age Outlaws vs. The Ascension

ER: I have not seen a whole lot of the Ascension, couple of squash matches. The look like a couple of goons from The Guild of Calamitous Intent. Viktor in particular could make a really convincing cosplay Monarch. Like he could probably get his picture on Buzzfeed or something. Viktor locks on a chin lock 2 minutes in, but then follows it up with a nice fist drop so my heart is torn but neutral. Road Dogg looks like he gassed pretty hard. Really the final stretch when Gunn tagged in was pretty fun. But this was 5 minutes and basically wouldn't even stand out on an episode of Raw. All that goodwill the crowd was giving the kickoff match appears to have dried up. Hmmmm.

ER: Annnnnd my feed cut out. "Error. Cannot play video at this time. Please try again later." I do not have a weak internet connection. But this has happened to me literally every PPV I've tried to watch on the Network.

3. Usos vs. The Miz & Damien Mizdow

ER: Mizdow is really, really over which was something that I wouldn't have actually predicted. I also couldn't really get into this match. Maybe I'm in a grumpy mood or something. I just don't really care for the Mizdow tag team, and would rather see The Usos against practically any other team. The Mizdow stunt double spots don't really have much legs with me, especially in a match that could have actually been good. Miz also rarely interests me. I don't like much of his offense, and for the most part he also takes offense poorly. Miz set up a lot of Uso offense really lazily in this. Half the Usos moves seemed to be "foot gets caught, Uso spun around, ends up kicking Miz on the way back around." Pretty flat overall. This is looking like a horrible Sunday night decision so far. If I wanted to blow an evening I could at least watch The Doll Squad or something.

ER: I was amused by Jamie and Joey's poor read while playing WWE Immortals (is that like WoW but with WWE guys?).

4. Bella Twins vs. Paige & Natalya

ER: I really enjoyed the first 2-3 minutes of this. Things kind of went to hell when the crowd started singing and Brie blew a reverse somethingorother driver. I always enjoy Nikki Bella and think she's underrated as a worker. Always does nice kicks to the stomach, throws nasty back elbows, has surprisingly good timing a lot of the time. But yeah this was pretty much 3 good minutes and then 5 minutes of sputtering to a finish. I liked Brie's running Brie Mode knee, but Nattie wasn't a very engaging person to watch take a beating for half a match. And I'm still not sure what Paige is.

5. John Cena vs. Seth Rollins vs. Brock Lesnar

ER: Well this match was completely bonkers, and I completely loved all of it. Total show saver right here. Usually I hate 3 ways but Brock may just be the answer to this type of match as his offense is so destructive that it makes sense for guys to be out of the match for minutes at a time. There was so much great stuff in this. Lesnar basically wrestles a match the way somebody would win at King of the Coliseum. Match starts, immediately just starts throwing people as far as he can. I love it that John Cena is still powerless against his Germans. Cena always takes the Germans really great and seeing Brock toss him violently never gets old. Then you add in Brock double suplexing Noble and Mercury, Rollins taking suplexes in the most painful ways possible (jeez one of the Germans had to have jammed his shoulder). Brock is just an incredible personality to watch. I never want him to go away. Then they go and spectacularly take Brock out of the match by Rollins leaping a million feet to elbow drop him through an announce table. Brock obviously has freakish strength and it was on full display throughout, but he's also always been an incredible bumper, and not just bumper but always makes stuff look great. I'm not sure I've seen anybody make Rollins' curb stomp look as good as Brock made it look. I also love Brock being the one guy to just sell the AA as a standard back bump and just get up from it. This whole thing was a ridiculously fun blur of large men getting dumped on their heads. There were a bunch of great saves in this with my favorite being Lesnar emerging from his table to do a mighty deadlift German on Rollins. Loved all of this.

6. Royal Rumble Match

ER: Oh good, was hoping I would get to maximize my Miz viewing for the evening. R-Truth is #2. These two starting would lend creedence to somebody's "The Rumble is actually booked with guys drawing numbers out of a hat!" theory. If these two were main eventing Superstars it would seem like an off week. Bubba Ray Dudley is #3 and that's a fun surprise. Miz took the 3D nicely so I'll give him credit there. #4 is Luke Harper. Harper/Bubba Ray is a fun match up I never realized I wanted. BRD works a little light against Harper though so I am disappointed. He threw those Mick Foley punches where he kinda aims for above the forehead. #5 is Bray Wyatt. Miz, Truth and BRD are gone at this point. #6 is Curtis Axel and I can't imagine a quieter reaction. But apparently Rowan takes his spot which is very much better. #7 is The Boogeyman. Hey. How about that. One of the only men to not have a good match with Finlay. Wyatt stiffs him with a hard clothesline and is all alone. #8 is Sin Cara. I take back what I said about Axel's quiet elimination. Since Axel never made it to the ring does that mean he's still in this thing? Surprise finalist!!! #9 is Zack Ryder. Wow the WWE has a lot of guys I do not care about. #10 is Daniel Bryan so I do love he and Wyatt getting the ring to themselves.

#11 is Fandango. #12 is Tyson Kidd. Rachel points out the stupidity of Bryan putting Wyatt on the top rope to do a rana, instead of just pushing him off the top. #13 is Stardust. Crowd is pretty quiet even though Stardust comes in with a bunch of stiff shots. #14 is DDP who comes in throwing a bunch of Diamond Cutters. #15 is Rusev and I want him to go on a run. I dig Bryan doing his big dive as you really don't get many legal dives in the Rumble. And Bryan gets hilariously eliminated because HA! I guess they just really wanted Bryan chants the rest of the night. Even Rachel assumed Bryan was going all the way to the end, and she basically only watched Total Divas and doesn't know how booking works. #16 is Goldust. #17 is Kofi Kingston. Goldust looks awesome upon entering, hitting his powerslam on Rusev and getting into it with Cody. The Rumble is pretty much the only reason to keep Kofi around as it's basically the only time I find myself enjoying him. #18 is Adam Rose. Boy. This guy still has a job. Obama could use him as an example of just how much employment is on the rise. But his horribly named Rosebuds do get an awesome spot by catching Kofi's fall on a potential elimination. #19 is Roman Reigns. #20 is Big E. Rusev does his really fun cannonballs.

#21 is Mizdow. I do not care about their storyline. #22 is Jack Swagger. #23 is Ryback. #24 is Kane. #25 is Dean Ambrose. Good, we've had a bunch of people just milling about in there for a bit. #26 is Titus O'Neill. Looks like they were trying to do a "new quickest elimination" angle with Titus, but somebody botched something and Titus didn't go over cleanly, so they had to re-do it. Yeah, JBL immediately goes "Did he just break Santino's record!?" It would be amusing if Titus were booked to break it, and then accidentally/on purpose didn't go over properly. Getting eliminated in 4 seconds instead of the 1 he was booked for would be arguably the most amusing reason to get cut. #27 is Bad News Barrett. #28 is Cesaro. It makes me sad how audibly disappointed the crowd was when they figured out who it was. What did the poor guy do wrong? #29 is Big Show. #30 is Dolph Ziggler. I hope there was some dummy out there who wanted Rock. Are they really doing Reigns/Brock at Mania? They're doing Ambrose/Brock next month anyway, right? So that would be weird if Ambrose wins even though I would love that. Still time for Curtis Axel to make his triumphant return. Damn I wonder what cut Reign's mouth up. That's some good blood and nobody is really mentioning it. "Bullshit" chants starting, crowd is turning on Reigns to the shock of not one person. This is a horrible and totally predictable reaction to Reigns winning. And then Rock comes out and I'm pretty much not interested in Rock at this point. I would be interested in Rock/Rusev. That is about it. Wait Rusev is still in the match!? Oh. There he goes. Huh. Let's cut to the "Roman Reigns in the shot look at Wrestlemania sign" (they cut to that shot while I was in the middle of typing it). Man. Bryan didn't even get eliminated by any nefarious means or anything. Dude just wasn't good enough to hang.

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

2015 Lucha Overview - Arena Coliseo 1/17/15

My main man Black Terry Jr. dropped an belated Christmas present to his customer base by sending us three matches from an Saturday CMLL Arena Coliseo show. Coliseo are shows where they are letting their young guys work longer stuff, kind of an untaped CMLL NXT, and it was neat to get a look at guys working in a different environment.

Astral v. Pequeno Nitro

One fall minis match given about 13 minutes which would have been right at home as a showcase Nitro or fun Lucha Underground match. Starts out a bit slow, neither guy is a stellar mat worker and the first 3 minutes or so felt a little time killerish. When they start breaking out big spots though it picked up. Astral hit a nice tope, a couple of minutes later Nitro lands a really pretty plancha to the floor. Then Nitro nukes himself on a Psicosis/Estrada style ringpost bump and Nitro hits a Taka double jump plancha which was always one of my favorite dives. Finish was also a crazy roll up into a submission. Not a MOTY level match, but a really nifty spotfest I am happy got documented.

Virus v. Star Jr.

Really enjoyed watching Virus work with Black Terry Jr. filming. The camera work really let you see the nastiness of Virus's stuff, kidney shots, super stiff clotheslines. The early matwork was pretty fun, Virus was leading him, but Star Jr. threw in some fun stuff too, including an elaborate roll up, and a Navarro style pin reversal via ankle hook. Would have liked to see a little more flash from Star Jr., but this was a very fun 10 minute match, and a great chance to watch Virus do his thing.

Misterioso Jr./Negro Casas/Sagrado v. Delta/Guerrero Maya Jr./La Mascara

I like watching Negro Casas and this is another opportunity to check out a master work a house show style match. Still the non Casas parts of this were pretty forgettable, and this really felt like a bog standard house show match. On the positive side of average, but not by much

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New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV Episode 2 Workrate Report

I enjoyed the first episode last week so see no reason to not keep this party going.

1. Minoru Suzuki, TAKA Michinoku & Lance Archer vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, Tomohiro Ishii & Jado (3/23/13)

The above is a list of guys I like or even love, and Lance Archer. So I see that guy is still around, and still very much not good. This match seems pretty clipped down (end said 14 minutes but this barely goes 4), so we mostly don't see Jado. We do get a lot of Nakamura looking awesome and kneeing Archer in the face and stomach many, many times. I have still yet to be blown away by Ishii. Several friends whose wrestling opinions mostly match up with mine absolutely love Ishii, but he always comes off like a lumpy WAR guy with sub-WAR clotheslines and stiffness. His clotheslines and shoulder blocks and forearms look okay, but seem a little light for a guy built like a tank. Something just seems to be…missing. Hadn't seen TAKA in ages so that was nice, even if what we saw was mostly him taking offense, although I loved his high cradle majistral. And boy, Lance Archer. Even in limited time the guy just looked like junk. He's so unnatural in the way he gets in position and throws guys in turnbuckles or ropes. There is no subtlety with him getting where he needs to fall. Nakamura kicks him in the face but he needs to be in the turnbuckles and ends up falling diagonally to his side to get to them, in a way nobody would ever fall after being kicked. Later he needs to throw someone into the buckles, is out of position to make it look convincing, so walks all the way around him to properly whip him. There are just a shocking number of mini time stand still moments with this guy. Also, Minoru Suzuki booted the ring boy who held the ring ropes for him. I love that man.

After the match we get a brutal promo from Davey Boy Smith Jr. Awful stuff. Just clunky language and spit shouting.

2. Hirooki Goto vs. Kazuchika Okada (3/23/13)

Well this match right here is a pretty microcosm of why I don't typically seek out New Japan stuff. This was just junk. I actually liked the beginning leg work grappling, even assuming it wouldn't go anywhere. From there Goto dominated, until Okada just kinda decided it was his turn to go on offense. That's arguably my least favorite way to structure a match, when one guy takes a bunch of stuff up front, and then a switch gets thrown and the other guy goes on offense at full strength. The transition to Okada's control was real weak, as he takes a bunch of offense from Goto, then just reverses a whip and goes on offense, with Goto now suddenly having to sell a bunch. I guess he was tired from dominating Okada? We get to our forearm exchange that we all knew was going to happen, and then we take turns doing big moves until the finish, with Mauro Ranallo grating on every last nerve by screaming over the last 6 minutes of the match. Screaming does not make it epic. Rachel was in the room while I was watching this and she was laughing at how idiotic Mauro was sounding. We have a lame submission exchange with Goto barely making the ropes and using his last bit of strength to get there…but then after they break he just locks on his own submission. A lot of convenient selling in this one. Mauro reminds me many times that that's Fighting Spirit. We also get a real obnoxious muggy referee, cupping his ears and and flapping his hand in a "Bring It!" motion, just begging to hear a guy verbally submit. Bleeeech. Awful match. At least the Rainmaker looked good. I also liked Okada's reversal of the Goto shiki.

Well two episodes in, dug the first one, really disliked most of the second one. We get a throwaway clipped up 6 man and a horrible "puroresu EPIC". I enjoyed Mauro and Barnett on the first show, could not stand Mauro on this show. By the end of the Okada match he was unbearable. Fingers crossed for a strong third show.

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Friday, January 23, 2015

MLJ: 2010: Invasores Interlude 2: Gran Alebrije, Histeria II, Psicosis II vs Hijo del Fantasma, La Mascara, La Sombra

Taped 2010-04-26 @ Arena Puebla
5 of 5: Gran Alebrije, Histeria II, Psicosis II vs Hijo del Fantasma, La Mascara, La Sombra

A couple of weeks after the initial attack and we have the first match between Los Invasores and the CMLL regulars, in this case, the same trios that they initially attacked, which is amazingly well put together for CMLL if you ask me.

Psicosis II is Ripper, of course. Alebrije is Kraneo (and he has Cuije with him), Histeria is Morphosis now. At least Alebrije and Histeria (along with Latin Lover) were right out of a legal case against AAA over the potential use of their names, though I'm not entirely sure how that worked out. Maybe more interesting still was the fact that Alebrije and Cuije were just back from the King of Trios (which was mentioned). Unfortunately, Claudio/Cesaro vs Alebrije/Kraneo wasn't QUITE the amazing match up that it looks like on paper. Here it is though.

Back to Mexico, this was a hell of a first outing for the invaders. Maybe due to the fact they were in Puebla, they had a ton of time, and it really had a big match feel. There were tons of fans with camera around the ring to begin. Both side had interviews to lead off. The rudos had such unique looks with the purples and the pointed masks. They were outlandish, real invaders.

I want to lead off by saying that this match was really more than the sum of its parts. The opening matwork wasn't all that high end. The transition was just there. The beatdown was quite good, though, but then the comeback was spirited but not all that interesting. After that, they pulled it all together well but not well enough to make it sublime on its own. It was the feel of it all though, the hot crowd, the unique nature of the invasion, the build from the previous ambush, and a lot of interesting if not entirely smooth work. I liked this a lot but it's not technically the strongest match I've seen lately. In that regard, it reminds me a lot of something like Atlantis vs Ultimo Guerrero, though not on that level.

The crowd was definitely into it. They started it smartly with the rudos taking the ring only for the tecnicos to retake it. Fantasma had a chant straight from the get go, paired off against Histeria (Captains were Sombra and Psicosis), and this was fun, at least, with a nice rolling leglock and a solid sense of struggle. Mascara and Psicosis followed things up, picking up the pace, but we didn't get a chance to see too much before everything broke down (robbing of us Sombra vs Alebrije).

From there the rudos picked up the advantage and the beatdown began. They had quite a bit of interesting tandem offense and pressed the advantage to the point of really ramping up the pressure for the comeback. Cuije even beat up Kemonito. There was a tree of woe. Sombra had his mask ripped. There were double kicks. Tecnicos were isolated. And the primera ended with a wheelbarrow lift up and a double dropkick before a facebuster, then an elaborate sequence of corner shots and tandem offense before a brutal Alebrije spear. Showy stuff. They followed it by making a wish and more Cuije offense.

The comeback was short and sweet and not quite heated enough and more important than that, felt earned. Mascara was outnumbered but managed to roll under a double clothesline to hit a superkick on Alebrije, before getting knocked out. Fantasma flew in but Psicosis took him out. Finally, Sombra evened things up and hit a huge dive. This allowed Fantasma and Mascara to lock in a leg submission and a Casita for the fall. Afterwards, before the reset, Kemonito got some revenge on Cuije.

The tercera had a lot of time and while it had its moments of sloppiness, it was ultimately a lot of fun. It was back and forth, with everyone hitting their spots and endless teasings for the dives that should finish the match. The tecnicos were able to do their sequences vs all three rudos and frankly, they seemed motivated by having some new opponents. The rudos hit their cut offs when needed only to get overwhelmed again and again. Kemonito had his comedy spot with the shirt coming off and Cuije got to dropkick him to end it.

The match ended exactly as it should have. Everything broke down in the end and it looked like the tecnicos were about to finally hit their dives. Mascara went for either a seated senton or a rana off the apron but got caught and powerbombed right into the post in a really nasty spot. Then Fantasma went for a tope only to for the rudos to move at the last second and the brutalized Mascara to be thrust right into the path of it. Despite all that Sombra almost pinned Psicosis, but Cuije broke it up. Kemonito charged in and in the chaos that followed, Psicosis fouled Sombra and pinned him. It was a great ending because it set up matches to come. The satisfaction of the dives never came to fruition and the rudos still cheated to win. I hope this drew money because it deserved to.

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

2014 Ongoing Match of the Year List

38. Shield v. The Wyatt Family 3/7/14

PAS: This is a house show version of my favorite match up of the year, and had a bunch of the fun elements I loved in their more high profile stuff. We started out with a cool staredown and brawl which included Rollins doing a super fast, really crazy for a house show dive. Two long face in peril segments one with Rollins and one with Ambrose, Wyatt's were a really great bully trios team, cutting off the ring violently working over someone with a mix of simple violent slams and throws and some very quick high impact stuff. Ambrose was the star of the Shield team, he was at his best during their brief run as a face trios team, he had an awesome crazy man hot tag, and followed it up with a great Terry Funkish face in peril where he keep begging the Wyatts to hit him harder. They kept Reigns on the apron until the end where he unloaded all of his cool offense in the crazy bang bang finish. Such a bummer we never really got a big blowoff to this feud, as even in this format it was some of the best stuff all year.

ER: Fun match and really it's matches like these that made me not care about going to TV tapings when WWE rolls through town, only the house shows. House shows seem to bring out more excited screaming kids, less people trying to get over with their signs. And the crowds seem hotter because there's no down time for commercials or promos. Here the crowd was hot before the bell, as a "This is Awesome" chant started while the teams were just staring each other down. I could see that kind of thing annoying me most of the time, but here I was kinda with them as in my head I was like "*squeal* a Shield/Wyatts trios I haven't seen!" so I can only imagine how much I would be flipping out live. And, sure enough, this ended up being a Shield/Wyatts trios. We do lose a lot with the fancam aspect as these are all guys who add stuff with their facial expressions, so seeing just white blurs for faces isn't as engaging, but since it means we actually get to see this match instead of never seeing it then I'll obviously take it. There's still enough high end work in here that shines through without the mugging. I thought Harper looked fantastic here. The crowd seemed to respond to him more than any of the Wyatts, and his stuff with Ambrose was great. I loved them trading blows, Ambrose getting repeatedly knocked back into the ropes. All the strikes looked great, and Ambrose is such a house show pro because you know he was teasing the rebound clothesline every single time. Harper would uppercut him, Ambrose would stagger backwards into the ropes, the whole crowd expecting the rebound...and then he ends up hitting it several minutes later when people aren't expecting it. Bray was good with the house show crowd and he even added a new little wrinkle to the crab walk, flopping to his back for a couple of beats before springing up on all fours. It looked creepy and the crowd was delighted. It's weird seeing Wyatt in brown sweatpants instead of white slacks. He looked like Mick Foley at an autograph signing. The finishing run was really hot with a couple great saves and nearfalls, and all the guys seamlessly running in one after the other and believably cutting the others off. Wish I could have seen these teams live. At least we have this.


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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

2015 Ongoing Match of the Year List

1. Kota Ibushi v. Shinsuke Nakamura NJPW 1/3

PAS: Solid start to the year, with Ibushi curtailing a lot of his more obnoxious juniors stuff and wrestling this like a nasty fight. I especially loved all of the stomps. elbows and knees both guys landed on the back of the head which really added a different level of viciousness absent from a lot of the endless New Japan elbow smashes. I also liked how they snapped and started throwing right hands, which was put over nicely by Jim Ross as something outside of the New Japan rules. I was let down a little by the finish, the crazy springboard german was an interesting idea, but didn't land well at all, and the finishing blows by Nakamura looked a lot weaker then the earlier stuff, you always want a match like this to build to something big, and this didn't really. Still very good and a fine match to lead off 2015.

ER: Awesome stuff overall but it's a shame the nastiest stuff all happened in the middle of the match. I loved that there were no "we take turns elbowing each other and scream" moments, and all the strikes all came off looking like illegal MMA. Nakamura does a cool front suplex and immediately starts blasting Ibushi with north/south knees, Nakamura locks on a slick rolling arm bar and Ibushi gets to his feet and breaks it by stomping on Nakamura's nose and face. At some point you can see visible boot scrapes all over Nakamura's forehead. The misses in the match were very important too as there were tons of nice kicks that came flying full speed, really lending to the fact that if one of them didn't duck things would have been over. I loved how that played out later with Nakamura ducking a low kick and Ibushi almost expecting him to duck and immediately hitting a standing corkscrew moonsault. Ibushi has some cool offense with effortless flying that can land with impact (sometimes) and cool little snap suplexes that he rips off so quick they're near impossible to block. The build up showed him surprising Nakamura with one of these and sure enough he snaps off a couple here. Nakamura has a great unique style, real slithery and jellybones. I love seeing his limbs flop around when he takes a powerbomb or rana, and loves how he uses that stuff to goad Ibushi into striking a couple times which then backfires for Ibushi. The strike breakdown in towards the end was awesome, with Ibushi throwing full follow through palm strikes that buckled Nakamura into the ropes, with Nak shoving the ref into Ibushi and then just blasting him with a right hand. So many great strikes throughout this, with nasty elbows and knees to the back of the head, kicks to the neck and little annoying stomps. If only things happened in just a slightly different order. Even so, a very good start to the year.


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1. Rey Mysterio v. Low Ki JAPW 11/14
2. Brock Lesnar v. Roman Reigns WWE WrestleMania 31 3/29
3. Undertaker v. Brock Lesnar WWE Hell in a Cell 10/25
4. Mil Muertes v. Fenix Lucha Underground 1/25 (Aired 3/18)
5. Daniel Bryan v. Roman Reigns WWE Fastlane 2/22
6. Low-Ki v. Chris Dickinson JAPW 3/21
7. Drew Gulak v. Sami Callihan PWG 12/11
8. Mil Muertes v. Prince Puma Lucha Underground 4/20 (Aired 8/5)
9. Kazushi Sakuraba v. Katsuyori Shibata NJPW 7/5
10. Drew Galloway v. Ricochet EVOLVE 37 1/10

11. Brock Lesnar v. John Cena v. Seth Rollins WWE Royal Rumble 1/25
12. Speedball Mike Bailey v. Trevor Lee PWG 4/3
13. Ultimo Guerrero v. Rey Escorpion CMLL 7/17
14. Timothy Thatcher v. Roderick Strong EVOLVE 37 1/10

23. Kota Ibushi v. Shinsuke Nakamura NJPW 1/3
24. Yuki Ishikawa v. Freedom Wallace BattleArts Academy 12/19
25. Jeff Cobb v. Kaimana PREMIER IX 6/7
26. Negro Navarro/Trauma 1/Trauma 2 v. Ultimo Guerrero/Magnifico/Rey Hechicero Cara Lucha 1/31
27. Timothy Thatcher v. Roderick Strong EVOLVE 41 4/17
28. Virus v. Negro Navarro Lucha Memes 12/21
29. Jushin Liger v. Yohei Komatsu NJPW 5/22
30. Eddie Kingston vs. Drew Gulak Chikara 6/14

31. Virus v. Avisman Chilanga Mask 4/12
32. Jeff Cobb v. Timothy Thatcher FSW 12/12
33. Negro Casas v. Maximo CMLL 1/11
34. Aztec Warfare II Lucha Underground 12/12 (Aired 3/23/16)
35. Kevin Owens v. John Cena WWE Elimination Chamber 5/31
36. Virus v. Dragon Lee CMLL 4/5
37. Negro Casas v. Dragon Lee CMLL 5/22
38. Hernandez v. Prince Puma Lucha Underground 3/21 (Aired 5/27)
39. The Mack v. Cage Lucha Underground 4/18 (Aired 7/29)
40. Kraneo/Morphosis/Olimpico v. Blue Panther/Fuego/Super Porky CMLL 1/11

41. Preston Quinn v. Damien Wayne VCW 3/7
42. The Crew v. Angelico/Ivelisse/Son of Havoc Lucha Underground 2/22 (Aired 5/20)
50. Daniel Bryan v. Sheamus WWE Smackdown 3/31 (Aired 4/3)

51. Drew Gulak v. Trevor Lee EVOLVE 49 10/17
52. Fenix v. Mil Muertes Lucha Underground 3/21 (Aired 5/27)
53. Jack Gallagher v. Chris Brookes Tetsujin 11/20
54. Chris Hero v. Drew Gulak PWG 2/27
55. Villano IV v. Blue Demon Jr. AAA 3/18
56. King Cuerno v. Fenix Lucha Underground 11/21 (Aired 2/10/16)
57. Titan v. Barbaro Cavernario CMLL 5/3
58. Drew Galloway v. Low-Ki TNA Impact 3/16 (Aired 5/1)
59. Eddie Kingston v. Silas Young AAW 3/21
60. Rey Horus v. Steve Pain OWA 3/14

61. Daniel Bryan v. Dolph Ziggler WWE Raw 3/30
62. Blue Panther, Rey Cometa & Angel de Oro v. Virus, Polvora & Dragon Rojo Jr. CMLL 9/11
63. Drew Galloway v. Roderick Strong EVOLVE 36 1/9
64. Genichiro Tenryu/Akebono/Ultimo Dragon v. Atsushi Aoki/Suwama/Hikaru Sato AJPW 1/31

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MLJ: 2010: Invasores Interlude I: Shigeo Okumura, Taichi, Virus vs Hijo del Fantasma, La Máscara, La Sombra

Taped 2010-04-12 @ Arena Puebla
Shigeo Okumura, Taichi, Virus vs Hijo del Fantasma, La Máscara, La Sombra

3:03 in

I know what you're thinking. Why the heck am I watching a Taichi match for no apparent reason? There's no Volador here at least (I'm on anti-Volador, Jr, kick right now and will avoid him when possible), but Taichi is definitely there and Mascara is looming too. Even 2010 Virus isn't enough to offset that. There's a method to my madness, though. This isn't any match but the start of a fairly big angle (I say fairly big because while it had a big footprint, it started in Puebla and there just seems to be something off about that).

The entrances were pretty great. Virus' look back then was awesome. He had this cool robe, a mask over that, some spiky arm things. I get that there's a sort of maestro feel he has now, where some of this might take away from his skill or distract from it, but it was a really great look and it's a shame he went away from it. Kemonito, carried by someone, came out wiht Mascara, wearing a shirt. More on this later. Sombra and Taichi were captains. I have no idea how Taichi gets to be captain of anything.

I quite like Fantasma; he never really wows me but he's always more than solid, someone who was ideal in matches like this because he could really serve as the glue, as someone who knew his role and could play it well and by doing so, helped to keep everything together, usually without going into business for himself like Wagner or someone. He was fairly young at this point too. I've said it before but it's a shame that they didn't keep him around (he jumped to AAA in 2013). Okumura, on the other hand, never really makes an impression on me.

The structure was a little weird here, which is quite often a red flag for the finish of the match. I've seen people complain about the typical CMLL structure lately, but I've kind of come to love it over the last year. It's the ebb and the flow and it provides a great point of comparison because you get to see how a number of different wrestlers work within the same constraints; more often than not, to reach this level, they know how to do great things within it.

Whenever the match diverges, it changes the mood because it raises your attention a little. That was the case here. They went through the motions of a standard back and forth opening with a rudo takeover. Fantasma carried Taichi to something halfway tolerable. Sombra and Okemura turned up the pace a bit,  but the rudos swarmed immediately thereafter so we never got to see what Virus would have done with Mascara.

At this point, in a normal match, we'd skid to a relatively quick rudo taking of the fall, ride the beatdown into the segunda, have a tecnico comeback, an then reset for a lot of tecnico-vs-the-world antics, some posturing, and a few dives for the finish. Instead, Virus, directing traffic, set up Fantasma for an Okumura missile dropkick and the pin, but then Sombra ducked past everyone to tope Virus and planchaed his way back in off the top onto Taichi. He ducked a double team kick and hit his split legged moonsault on Taichi (still inexplicably the rudo captain) to take the fall. They basically rushed through the beatdown to the comeback in one fall. It was a sign that either this was going to go two falls or that it was going to have that added loop of a second beatdown.

As it was, the segunda was mostly everything you'd want in a tercera from these pairings. Virus got to stooge a bit. We had those tecnico-vs-the-world spots where one tecnico fought off all three rudos. There were dive cutoffs to cycle to the next tecnico. Kemonito got to do the shirt-take-off spot where he can't get it off and then recovered to hit a legdrop. Someone hit that lightning flip over backdrop counter sunset flip I really like. They made Taichi look stupid, and finally, Fantasma and Mascara hit tandem topes. That left Taichi and Sombra in there and almost immediately, the former fouled the latter and the tecnicos got the DQ win.

All well and good, right? Once the match was over, the real fun began. Out of nowhere ran in luchadores who had, until recently, been working for the independents, Perros Del Mal and other places: Psicosis II(Reaper/Ripper), Histeria, Manico, Alebrije(Kraneo) and his mini Cuijo. The post production called this the "Invasion en Puebla" and the fans were unsurprisingly going nuts for it. This was about as formula breaking as it got, a mauling from a group of wrestlers not even in the company.

Eventually, the tecnicos set to wrestle the next match, Strongman, Porky, and Mistico hit the ring to chase them off (with Mistico being so good and aware of the situation that he was quickly able to get all attention himself by press slamming Cuije to the outside; he had a chant shortly thereafter). In one of the biggest Crash TV segments I've ever seen in CMLL, the rudos they were to face: Terrible, Averno, and Texano, Jr. followed them right out and started the match. I decided that Strongman and Porky together were probably not something I was up to perusing and decided to move on.

This was certainly a match rushed through to set up an angle, but as such things went, it was an enjoyable one and I thought the angle came over extremely well, the mood set by the weirdness of so sudden a two fall match.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

2014 Ongoing Match of the Year List

56. Bray Wyatt v. Dean Ambrose WWE Smackdown 6/13

PAS: Tremendous short match between two of the best guys in the world. Both wrestlers are super expressive and much about what made this match so good was the facial selling and subtle movements. Wyatt takes over by catching a pescada and smashing Ambrose shoulder first into the ring apron. The rest of the match Ambrose is constantly trying to work his shoulder back into shape, stretching it out, wiggling his fingers, doing everything he can to keep fighting. Meanwhile Wyatt smells the disadvantage and is on Ambrose like a hyena on a wounded gazelle. Ambrose never got full advantage, but was able to catch Wyatt with some big moves and big nearfalls, until his temper got the best of him.  Everyone keeps talking about Ambrose as a natural heel, but he really has perfected the role of tough crazy babyface brawler, like AJPW Terry Funk or Portland babyface Roddy Piper or 90's Stone Cold. The nutjob in the bar who will buy the whole house a round and help the bartender paint his apartment, but will also break a pool cue upside a douchebag frat boy's head because he didn't like his fancy sunglasses.

ER: Jeez it's kind of tough to sum it up better than Phil's last sentence. That has to be in the running for "Best SC line of 2014". Ambrose is a guy who's really great at working within self-imposed limitations. He doesn't quite go to extensive Kikuchi levels of selling long term damage, but watching Ambrose work an injury in a match is always amusing, in the same way it's fun to watch Daniel Plainview work through his leg injury. Dean is very smart about working around the shoulder, really an impressive dedication that he doesn't let this kind of thing back him into corners in a match. There's never any "well I wanted to do THIS spot but I'm working a leg injury…I'M DOING THE SPOT ANYWAY!" He seems like a guy who enjoys the challenge of working injuries into matches and it makes his stuff that much more enjoyable and memorable. Bray Wyatt is a guy who has become kind of popular to dislike lately, which I don't understand as I think he always brings it, has great timing and isn't afraid to get bruised. Here a couple of Dean's dropkicks threaten to fall short so Wyatt runs headlong into them and bumps huge for them. He seems like a guy who has no problem doing a guy a solid in the ring. The Sister Abigail really took what could have been a silly finisher and made it into a cool killshot, not quite a "out of nowhere" Diamondcutter move, but something with this, the Bryan WM match and other matches that he's shown he will always be ready to strike with it, like his character is always ready to strike with his nastiest move at the opponents' most prone time. Really good stuff.


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Monday, January 19, 2015

Lucha Underground Episode 10: Law of the Jungle Workrate Report

1. Aerostar vs. Argenis vs. Angelico vs. Cage

ER: Striker describes Argenis as a Silver King/Dr. Wagner Jr. type which…okay I've seen Argenis before and nothing he does in the ring would ever remind me of Silver King or Dr. Wagner Jr. Nothing he does, nothing about his look, not at all. Silver King and especially Dr. Wagner are maybe the exact opposite types of luchador to a guy like Argenis. "I really like this Angelico kid. Reminds me of an old Cien Caras." I just really am not understanding the comparison. It's so weird that maybe I just heard it completely wrong, but I don't think so. Vampiro opts to call his style "conflictive" which…I'm pretty positive is not an actual word. Match itself was very fun. Angelico is a guy who usually looks like he gets hurt way worse when doing his offense, stuff like lightly kicking a guy on the top rope while falling on his own head. But this kind of 4 way is the perfect setting for guys like him as he can bump big, get out of the way, and then do a cool spot. His dive over the turnbuckle was insane. Cage also looked good and I liked how everybody pinballed off of him. This is also the "smallest" I've seen Cage in over a year. He's still way bigger than he was a couple years ago, but in early 2014 he ballooned up to Scott Steiner levels of not being able to lower his arms properly. Now he's still gassed but has a lot more of his agility back. He took all of their ranas really nicely and set them up well. All of the floppers did a great job bouncing off him and everything ran smoothly, no glitchy hangups. Also dug Cage's folding powerbomb on Aerostar, followed by him powerbombing him into Angelico. We got some really cool dives and aside from Angelico's insane one I loved the top rope no look tope en reversa from Aerostar. Really fun stuff.

PAS: Yeah this was really good, probably the second best match this promotion has done. I think it is a little weird to intro four guys like this in one match. Might have been better to intro Cage and Aerostar along with Son of Havoc and Super Fly, it is hard for four guys to make an new impression all at once, and I think Argenis and Aerostar may have been a bit overshadowed. Angelico was one of the worst wrestlers in the world when he was regularly showing up in IWRG, but he looked passible here, and his dive was nutso. Really cool use of Cage, and this promotion has been great at using giaganto roid dudes.

ER: Chavo sits in the ring to call out Blue Demon Jr. (whose name Matt Striker can now finally pronounce the way a human being would) and I love the camera work focusing on Chavo secretly pulling out brass knux. Demon putting the boots to Chavo didn't actually look very good, but it was more energy than I've maybe ever seen from Demon so I'll give him points.

PAS: I hope this is it for Blue Demon, this was a fine blowoff and was better then having to watch him in a match would be. Wonder what they do with Chavo from now on, he has been one of my favorite dudes in this fed, and would hate to see him marginalized.

2. King Cuerno vs. Drago

ER: This match was their weakest so far but used moves to set up a bigger match so it gets a pass. This was more a couple of big spots with not much in between. We had a massive flip dive from Cuerno (and again Drago gets full credit for leaning way into Cuerno's dives) and a nice dive by Drago, and then a clunky set up to get Cuerno lying on top of a table (there really is no good way to get a guy to accidentally lie down on a table) leading to a massive splash from Dario's office that exploded the table in fantastic ways. I'm actually surprised this episode hasn't had any replays, as stuff like that spot and Angelico's dive feel like things that should have been repeated a couple times.

PAS: I think this was a 2/3 falls match edited way down. Sort of a bummer as I was looking forward to these guys building on what they had done before, as opposed to just setting up a couple of spots. Still the blowoff should be great.

3. Fenix vs. Prince Puma

ER: This wasn't really my thing. Fenix's stuff works way better in a 4 way type match, and eventually this kind of just turned into nonsensical your move my move stuff with no real transitions. Fenix would hit a 450 and that would lead directly into Puma hitting a sit out piledriver. Fenix also has the habit of overly anticipating moves sometimes, not really good at naturally getting into position for stuff. A couple times he was so anticipating a move that he started bumping before the move part came. I like Vampiro bringing up Finlay booting him in his back when Puma does that to Fenix (which Striker keeps uncomfortably referring to as "The Victim Kick". Not sure what that means but it feels icky), saying it sent shockwaves down his arms. Donovan Morgan told me a similar thing years ago when Takayama booted him square in the spine, and he said both of his arms went momentarily numb. That was one of the first times I remembered thinking wrestlers were complete lunatics. So yeah all in all there were some neat spots in this match, but by the end I couldn't really care much about them.

PAS: I though the finish run was pretty cool, and that rope running spot into the superkick was great, but this had a very videogame feel to it, which I don't love. I understand that is going to be the working style of this fed, which is fine, I enjoy enough about Lucha Underground to tolerate this kind of PWGish thing, still I think both guys would have been served working with Rudo's to slow them down a bit. Looking forward to Puma v. Cage or Fenix v. Pentagon Jr. for those reasons.

ER: Feels like they need to go back to some more vignettes per episode. The last few weeks have had a lot of all ring action, and it seems crazy to be saying "man I wish there were more backstage skits!" but I think those were a real strength for this show. They obviously have some talented wrestlers so it's not the worst thing to have a whole show of just wrestling, but they started out with a real good balance of wrestling with character back story, and now it feels like the characters have just kind of stalled. Like they made a big deal out of Cuerno being some kind of hunter, but haven't really explained why outside of one video several weeks ago. Now he's still referred to as a hunter and Vampiro compares him to Predator, but we've not really been shown any reason why that's the case, other than them saying it a lot. I think they need to get back to that kind of stuff.

PAS: Yeah, I want to know who Dario is keeping under lock and key, I assumed it was Cage but apparently not, they need more campy angles as a bunch of guys doing flips for flips sake is going to wear a bit thin for me. Still liked this episode a bunch, but it did feel a little formless.


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