Segunda Caida

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

Saturday, January 10, 2015

SLL's All-Request Early Saturday Morning - 1/10/2015

For over a year now, Segunda Caida has been delivering at least one new piece of content daily...and precisely none of it has been mine. Let's fix that, shall we?

Welcome back to SLL's All-Request Friday Night (which, as per tradition, ran late, and is being put up early Saturday morning), wherein I review five matches as requested by YOU, the Segunda Caida reader. It's been entirely too long, folks, but it's good to be back, and I can think of no better way to kick things off than by awkwardly explaining why I like watching a murderer wrestle.

Invader I vs. Hercules Ayala (WWC, 1987)
Requested by DylanWaco

So, I've seen some Puerto Rican wrestling in my time, but it is, generally speaking, a blind spot for my fandom. Fortunately, we've seen that island and it's bloody, bloody history explored a bit more in the last few years, and it's become more visible on the radar. We have Dylan Hales to thank for that to a large extent, as he's probably been the most vocal champion of 80's Puerto Rico and the guy most likely to sell you on the stuff. Naturally, this sort of thing leads to wrestlers getting rediscovered and reevaluated, the most obvious one here being Carlos Colon. Somewhat less obviously, and somewhat more controversially, has been the rediscovery and reevaluation of Invader I, the man found not guilty of - but still generally acknowledged as having committed - the murder of Bruiser Brody, and since it's kind of an elephant in the room, I guess I should probably address it up front.

The obvious reaction is, of course, to dismiss Invader and his body of work, because he is a murderer and a monster like Chris Benoit, Jerry Estrada, and Jimmy Snuka. Then, you realize all three of the guys you just listed were good-to-great workers at some point in their careers, and you're kinda fucked. It doesn't help that while Invader's crime was unquestionably terrible, when you put it next to those of the three guys I just listed, it strikes me as pretty easily the least outrageous. Obviously, if you don't feel comfortable watching the work of a killer, Invader I is not for you, anymore than Benoit, Estrada, or Snuka are, and I'm certainly not going to judge you negatively if you hold that standard. But my heart is black as coal. I was able to watch a Chris Benoit match the day after his crime was revealed. I'm not gonna have a problem with with this guy.

So, the match. Hercules Ayala hits the ring to take on Isaac Rosario, but he's not having any of that. Fortunately for me, El Boricua over at Pro Wrestling Only was able to provide some context for this, so I know that the recently heel-turned Ayala's issue was that he didn't see Rosario as real competition. He airs his greivances to Hugo Savinovich and his glorious mullet until Invader hits the ring to give him a real challenge. The two are scheduled for a match that Saturday, and Ayala tries to blow him off on those grounds, but Invader isn't going anywhere, so they have at it. Meanwhile, Hugo consults with Puerto Rican Walt Frazier about whether or not this is all kosher.

I think this is actually my first time seeing Ayala. He's not someone I had much reason to actively seek out, since his reputation is shit, but he actually looked pretty damn good here. He was all big and mean and clubbery, and he laid his shots in nicely. This may have been an above average performance for him, but yeah, no complaints. Invader I've seen a handful of times before, once as an old man against Ray Gonzalez, once in an 80's WWF tag match against Roddy Piper and David Schultz. I don't think I ever gave him much credit before, possibly because...you know...the murder thing, and 80's WWF tags and matches as an old guy against a really talented worker in his prime are not really the places where you're going to overcome a lousy reputation. This is more of the kind of showcase where you can't really ignore the talent of the guys involved, and, well, Invader I is really talented. He's great as the super fired-up babyface brawler. He has the best battering ram I've ever seen. That's a spot that almost always looks stupid, but Ayala knocks Invader back, and Invader whips right back at him head-first at top speed, and it looks totally awesome. The match has a really great finishing stretch, starting with Ayala bashing Invader with the ringbell, and Invader doing some really great groggy selling. Ayala wails on him, but Invader hangs in there and makes his comeback, getting some ringbell comeuppance in exchange. The two continue to fight it out as the TV time limit expires, and I'd really like to see the match they had that Saturday.

Mascarita Dorada vs. Mini Psicosis (AAA, 5/19/12)
Requested by Grimmas

You know what, I'm gonna say it - The Imperial March? Not really a good choice for technico theme music. This is the kind of bold honesty that has made me so respected amongst my peers.

Anyway, this match is awesome. It's a pretty simple speed vs. power match, and both of these guys are really good in those those roles. Dorada (the current El Torito, for those of you who lost track of the Mascarita Doradas) is so ridiculously slick. He's not setting the bar low for himself, either. Over the course of the match, he goes for some pretty flashy high flying offense, and he executes it all perfectly. I think my favorite was the escape of the wheelbarrow into the springboard headbutt near the end. Yes, that's a thing that happened. Don't doubt that Dorada can make things like that happen. Mini Psicosis, meanwhile, is a really nasty little bruiser. He's quite a bit larger than Dorada, and they did fail to deliver the "larger mini mocks the smaller mini for being short" spot, which I always love in these matches, but he was still great overpowering Dorada, tossing him around the ring, and even busting out a nifty lariat at one point. Mini Histeria is seconding Mini Psicosis, and he does get involved a bit in the match. I didn't really have a problem with it, and it did lead to Octagoncito busting out an awesome dive on Dorada's behalf. There's a screwy finish, too, with Psicosis swiping Dorada's mask, but don't worry about that. This is a ton of fun.

Bob Esponja, Patricio Estrella, & Lady Maravilla vs. Buzz Lightyear, Sky Kid, & Chelly Rock (ACM, 5/12/13)
Requested by Tim Evans

Are ya ready, kids?

You know, I've seen a lot of things in professional wrestling over the years, and I think I can safely say...this is one of them. Lady Maravilla and Chelly (or Shelly...Cubs Fan says "Chelly", so I'm going with that) Rock start this out. They're not that bad. They're not that good. They're not that interesting. Look, we all know what we came here to see: Spongebob Squarepants and Buzz Lightyear throwing down. These women and their perfunctory matwork are just getting in my way. Maybe if Maravilla were dressed as Sandy and Chelly were dressed as Jessie, but as is, no dice. Really, even Sky Kid looks out of place here. You're telling me you couldn't rustle up some cowboy gear for this guy? Plus, I figure once you have your Toy Story trio established, they're set up pretty naturally for a mascara contra mascara match with Trio Fantasia, which I assume is the ideal career trajectory for everyone in this. Anyway, Sky Kid and Patricio have a pretty spirited exchange, but the technicos take the fall before Bob and Buzz can mix it up. Primear Caida ended so fast I thought I was watching CMLL.

Second fall opens up giving me exactly what I wanted. Buzz decks Spongebob with a slap across the mouth. He has a pretty nasty forearm, too. Buzz Lightyear is kind of a crowbar, which I wouldn't necessarily have guessed from the movies. This fall stretches it's legs a bit more, and it's mostly built around a rudo beatdown. At one point, Spongebob gets fouled after getting hit not where the wrestler's crotch actually is, but where it would be on the baggy costume he's wearing (though if we're being that technical, Spongebob is an asexual being who reproduces via budding and should be invulnerable to foules, but I think I'm gonna let that slide). Buzz takes the fall for his team with a top rope splash, presumably after shouting "Hasta el infinito y más allá!" to the crowd.

So in the tercera caida...you know, should I even bring up the fact that the costumed characters are not the most mechanically sound wrestlers you'll ever see? Because on one hand, I probably should, but on the other hand, does it really matter? This is a match that very much works upon the dancing bear principle - that is, the marvel is not that the bear dances well, but that the bear dances at all. This isn't a great match by any means, and the talents on display here won't make you for get Los Thundercats or some of the better wrestling Ninja Turtles, but if you ever wanted to see Buzz Lightyear and Patrick Star in a dive train - and you know you wanted to see that - this match definitely delivers.

Kengo Mashimo vs. Hiro Tonai (K-Dojo, 9/14/14)
Requested by Brandon-E

Well, if we're going to bring back All-Request Friday Nights, we've got to bring back that old staple, the modern puro match that I kinda dread watching, but that YOU requested, so I'm gonna suck it up and review it. Besides, watching things from outside my comfort zone is how I expand my horizons as a fan, and one of the things I like about doing this is that it's a great excuse to watch stuff that I never would've watched otherwise. On the other hand, Kaientai Dojo burns me pretty much every time I've ever watched it, so I'm apprehensive here. That said, if there's one guy who might deliver in that setting against all odds...well, it's TAKA Michinoku. But if there's ANOTHER guy who might deliver in that setting against all odds, I'd wager that it's Kengo Mashimo, the ace of K-Dojo and certainly the best trainee they've ever produced. He's a guy I took notice of in 2010 when he started hanging out with the FUTEN crew outside of his home promotion, but that never seemed to translate to any swell of quality in it, possibly because he couldn't find an opponent in K-Dojo half as competent as Takahiro Oba. He seems to try when I watch him, but usually, his opponent lets him down, so I really want to believe in this Hiro Tonai character right now. He's wearing Kuniaki Kobayashi's pants. That's a good start.

So I place my faith in Tonai, and is it rewarded? Well, yes, actually, and from pretty early on in the match, too, when he crosses Mashimo up during a straightforward feeling out section with a nifty cradle and a shining wizard. From there, he tries to press the advantage, but Mashimo cuts him off on the second rope and dropping his leg on the turnbuckle. Most of the first half is built around Mashimo working Tonai's leg, and while it isn't as violent as his FUTEN stuff (how could it be?), he still makes for a great bully, kicking and stomping the shit out of his leg and then working him over on the mat with submission holds once he's been grounded. He starts daring Tonai to take shots at him, and I know Mashimo already had a run with New Japan as part of Suzuki-gun, but watching this, I really wish they'd bring him back for something a bit more substantial, because he's a guy who does a lot of what we think of as the "strong style" routine better than most of the hyped New Japan guys. He's actually kinda reminiscint of Tomohiro Ishii in that respect, though he's obviously not on that level as a talent. Anyway, this backfires on him, and Tonai starts to fight back, injuring Mashimo's arm in the process. Tonai's comeback is spirited, though he does seem to be blowing off the leg selling a bit too much at times. I've seen much worse, though, and it wasn't enough to take me out of the match, though I could see some people disagreeing with me on that. Then again, I could see some people thinking his selling was perfectly fine, too, so whatever. Just thought you should know that was there and that I docked a few points from the match because of it. Still, there's too much good here for me to let that get me down. I totally dug the stretch run, which had some really tight and intense work from both guys, including that most elusive of creatures in modern puro: the back-and-forth strike exchange that felt like it was actually earned by the match, and not just thrown because it's supposed to be there to make the match seem more epic than it actually is. I can't guarantee this will be to everyone's taste, but fuck it, it was to mine. Give it a look. You may be surprised.

Alexander Otsuka vs. Takashi Sugiura (Z1, 4/18/01)
Requested by Curt McGirt

Hey, my first week back, and I go five for five with matches that I actually like! I haven't watched this match in years, but really, what are the odds of it not holding up? It's an Alexander Otsuka match. In my years as a fan, I've seen wrestlers who are better than Alexander Otsuka, but I've seen very few who are more fun than Alexander Otsuka. Alexander Otsuka is professional wrestling comfort food - a man proficient in a wide array of styles, and who will gladly demonstrate all of them during a single match for your amusement. Wrestling is many things to many people, but more than anything else, it's a good time, and there ain't no party like an Alexander Otsuka party.

Sugiura had only been wrestling for a few months at this point, but he was already showing a ton of promise here. I can't say he ever became a huge favorite of mine, but I always liked him well enough, and he has some very strong performances under his belt. In this match, he makes good use of his amateur background, grappling with Otsuka early and throwing him around later on. Always something I appreciate with amateurs-turned-pro.

Then, about halfway through the match, Otsuka hauls off and headbutts Sugiura, busting himself open hardway in the process, which looks just nasty. It gets even nastier as the match goes on, probably due in no small part to the fact that they keep trading headbutts for a while after that. Again, Otsuka is not afraid to just change the style of the match on a dime if he feels like it, and what's great is that it never feels wrong or out of place. It feels like a guy with a bottomless bag of tricks who likes to keep his opponents - and the audience - guessing, and it's a joy to watch every time. And just as seamlessly, he follows up a headbutt by slipping behind Sugiura and German suplexing him, transitiong to the "hosses throwing each other around" segment of the match. Beautiful.

These two guys actually wrestled each other again this past November at a Dradition show in what I'm told was billed as a rematch of this bout. I don't know if that made tape, as Otsuka's matches rarely do these days. That's a real pity. Still, watching this match does make me wanna go find what little recent Otsuka is available. The sun always shines a little brighter when that man steps into the ring, and brighter still when I can actually see it.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous bucky said...

bless you. Mashimo is looking like a top 100 contender, I'm gonna have to dig for whatever else I can find from his 2014

12:36 PM  

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