Segunda Caida

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

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The King is Cutting Trails, Screams and Wails, Face Go Pale, Never Fails

Jerry Lawler/Jackie Fargo/Bill Dundee v. Larry Latham/Pete Austin/Wayne Ferris CWA 7/9/79 -GREAT

This is during the feud between Dundee/Lawler and the Blond Bombers leading up to the famous Tupelo concession stand brawl. This was that kind of match, as the focus was on Jackie Fargo running through his classic bag of tricks. Fargo is a delight in this match, instead of pulling down his strap he hulks up by pulling off his singlet, he stooge eye pokes Latham, he fakes a referee count when Austin has Dundee pinned and when Austin pops up he smacks him in the mouth. The heel team were there mostly to stooge for Fargo, and Lawler  pretty much gets in one cool flurry where he fights off all three (including some nasty back hand strikes, which after all the Lawler I have seen is a new one.) Post match was more serious, with Danny Davis pulling out his canteen and throwing something (acid, alcohol, fire ants?) onto Fargo who writhes in pain on the mat. Not a hidden classic or anything, but we don't have a ton of Fargo available, and it is great to get any chance to watch him do his thing.

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New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV Episode 7 Workrate Report

1. Tetsuya Naito vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi (8/11/13)

So let me say that there was a GREAT moment in this match, after for TNA legend Naito had gotten his knee worked over a bit by Tanahashi, and Tanahashi shot him into the ropes, Naito did one of the greatest injured knee sells I'd ever seen. It looked so damn real, as he could barely make it running to the ropes, bounced back and just crumbled awkwardly onto his head and shoulder, at Tanahashi's feet. It was so wonderful and so perfectly pro wrestling. I rewound it a couple of times to see it again, really pay close attention to it. I called Rachel into the room, showed it to her and she asked if he had actually hurt his knee. It was a great, great moment.

But it happened just 4 minutes into the match. And there's no way Naito was going to be able to pull this off for another 30 minutes. He opened with "torn meniscus and shattered patella" and he still hadn't done any offense. It was a great spot in a vacuum, but he bit of wayyyyy more than he could ever possibly chew. It also meant that for the rest of the match I had to hear Mauro and Josh cry tears for Naito's poor, devastated knee. At one point Barnett even called it "emaciated". This all would have been news to Naito who was up, running around and doing all of his moves just fine. I mean the Koji Clutch he uses a lot would put an insane amount of pressure on his poor, emaciated knee. Oh, Naito will occasionally shake out his knee or sell it when it's convenient for him and won't get in the way of a Stardust Press.

I liked Tanahashi in this, but although I enjoyed his leg work there is something to be said about knowing your opponent's limitations and him going so hard after Naito's knee was a solid match plan in theory, but Naito isn't good enough to reliably work it into the frame of the match. Tanahashi has been far more enjoyable in these shows than expected, as he's tightened up some things in the last couple years (the HFF generally looks great, especially his crossbody version to the floor, the Slingblade actually looks like a real move now, his commitment to "missed" moves is really great as he flies painfully into opponents' knees on missed splashes), but man was Naito garbage. He has no clue how to competently work a match, he can't execute moves very effectively, his offense doesn't make tons of sense as a whole, he is a complete statue in terms of charisma, shows no passion, and seems to get lost at times (with the worst offense being a missed…something…as I believe they were both doing a crossbody spot but both men bumped too early and it ended up looking like both guys got hurt by the invisible monster in Fantastic Planet). Bad match. But man, that one moment was GREAT.

Oh, and while a lot of Barnett's jokes fall flat, he actually made me chuckle out loud when Naito locked on the Koji Clutch and Barnett yelled "Shades of Joe Stecher!" Good one. Mauro also made me laugh out loud, but unintentionally, because it's hard to keep a straight face during his Japanese over pronunciations. My favorite of his this week was "En-Zwee-GIDI" on an Naito enziguiri.


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Friday, February 27, 2015

MLJ: Enter: King Haku 2: King Haku, La Fiera, Pegasus Kid vs Dr. Wagner Jr., Negro Casas, Sangre Chicana

Taped 1993-09-24 @ Arena México
King Haku, La Fiera, Pegasus Kid vs Dr. Wagner Jr., Negro Casas, Sangre Chicana


I realize I may have gone a little overboard with the gifs last time, so there will be none here. Full disclosure would tell you that there were just less things TO gif here. This is it for what we have online for Haku in Mexico which is a shame because he was pretty great in these two matches. I would have loved to see him in some more brawl-centric stuff. I see 31 matches with him in the Match Finder between 92 and 94, and a lot of them were Tv matches, as best as I can tell. Some of the match ups, singles matches, are pretty goofy. He beat Porky in the quarterfinals of a Heavyweight title tournament and lost to Rayo de Jalisco, Jr. I can't even imagine that second match. He lost to Rayo in a Grand Prix tournament final too. There's a trios where he's teamed up with Dos Caras and Villano III vs Canek, Pirata Morgan and Satanico. You have to admit that sounds cool. Oh wait, Atlantis, Haku, and Lizmark vs Emilio Charles, Jr., Satanico and Pirata Morgan sounds even cooler. Ah well, we've got what we've got.

And unfortunately, this one is much less of a Haku focus. Fortunately, however, it's much more of a Fiera vs Negro Casas focus. This was setting up a hair match between the two a week or so later. Yes, Benoit's in this too, and I don't often watch a lot of his stuff these days (yeah, I'm one of those), but this feels so far removed from who he was ten years later, that I don't quite see the harm. Sangre Chicana's here too but he's sort of a non factor.

I enjoyed the previous a lot more for a number of reasons. For one, it had more time, and used it well, with a lot of showcase exchanges and everyone getting to wrestle everyone else. This started out with some heat, though, and that's always welcome. The rudos charged right in with Casas beelining towards Fiera and the numbers game immediately being played. This lasted for a minute or so until Haku intervened, which lead shortly thereafter to the first of what felt like seventeen Fiera spin kicks in the match. It's a really nice move but boy did he go to that well a lot. This kicked off the rope-running and back and forth exchanges, the highlights of which (almost gif worthy) were a double strength top wristlock spot that Haku reversed on Chicana and Wagner and Haku hitting four one armed backbreakers in a row. I have in my notes Benoit doing a "reverse plancha headscissors" and I'm going to guess those were two moves. Also, Haku superkicking people all over the ring. I liked the finish of the primera a lot. Oh what the heck. Let's go with one gif here:


Segunda wasn't much, really. It had a lot of Fiera beating up Casa and a fun bit of back and forth finishes where everyone got to do something. Benoit hit a superplex but ended up tripled teamed and killed by a Casas senton. He ended up eliminated but it was all for naught as things end up Fiera vs Casas again and Casas loses to yet another German (after yet another spin kick).

The finish made sense considering that Casas was going over in the hair match. A fun little functional match but ultimately sort of hollow. Casas was around 32 here and already had so much of that character mastery down, but he could supplement it with bumping and selling and spots he just can't do now. I like some of the shortcuts he's come up with over the years but you can't watch this stuff and not notice how engaging and dynamic he can be. I'm looking forward to seeing more.

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

There are Too Many People Planning Regal's Downfall

Steve Regal v. Chris Beniot WCW 5/8/93 -GREAT

This used to be my favorite match up in wrestling until..you know. This is a really early version of it, Benoit during his first WCW run, and Regal even before he was a Lord. This was worked more like a NJ juniors match than the gritty bombfests these matches would become. The execution of both guys is really great, as they did a nice looking extended armdrag and kip up sequence, which was smooth as soy milk. End was pretty cool too, as Benoit kicked out of a butterfly suplex, before planting Regal with a bridging dragon suplex which was pretty high end in 93.

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Lucha Underground Episode 15: Eye for an Eye Workrate Report

1. Mil Muertes vs. Chavo Guerrero, Jr.

ER: Well. This was…okay? Kinda felt like treading water. I liked Chavo's plancha. The best stuff all happened post match as Muertes punches a chair out of Chavo's hands and then lands his best right hand of the match. It is kinda funny that Russo rumors circulated last week and this week we have Muertes choking Catrina and almost doing his finisher on her (yes yes I know these were taped months ago). I also liked Fenix and Catrina's super sloppy drunk person make out sesh.

PAS: I liked Chavo in this fine and this was the best in ring match of a pretty weak show. Don't really know if we established Muertes and Catrina's relationship enough to have their break up mean a ton. Also have no idea who the face and who the heel in their relationship is.

ER: I've gotten so used to the low hanging fruit advertising aimed at us dummy wrestling fans that I mostly just tune out and fast forward if possible, but man is it a little jarring seeing gory Lucio Fulci movies advertised on TV during wrestling.

2. Ivelisse vs. Angelico

ER: This was amusing for what it was. Ivelisse's stuff looked good, if unlikely. I liked how supportive and helpful Son of Havoc was. It's refreshing not seeing the jealous man angle. I like the idea of loser Son of Havoc being the jobless stay-at-home boyfriend who still doesn't really do his share of the chores.

PAS: No idea why you'd do two breakup angles back to back. This seemed like sort of a waste of time to me, although Angelico does have some sleazebag charisma.

3. Super Fly vs. Texano

ER: Not really the debut path I would have taken for Texano, working mirror sequences with a flier, but whatever. Now the post match stuff with Patron was great. Texano laces into him with a couple stiff shots on the floor and Alberto goes off and beats him with nasty shots with the bull rope wrapped around his fist.

PAS: Texano's finisher is really dumb looking. I also really dug the post match brawl. I haven't seen any of the Patron v. Texano matches in AAA, but this made me want to check some of them out.

4. Bael, Cortez Castro & Mr. Cisco vs. Pimpinela Escarlata, Sexy Star & Mascarita Sagrada

ER: I thought this served its purpose. Dario set up The Crew with some theoretical tomato cans, two of whom they dispatched easily and the other they toyed with too long. Pimpi got dealt with first and I really liked the way he sold being choked out by the kendo stick. Cisco generously bumps a bit for Sagrada but eventually they hit a rough curb stomp and nasty apron powerbomb on him and B-Boy finally does something that looks decent by yakuza kicking Sagrada on the floor (the overhead camera shot betrays us again as Sagrada does a dive but it doesn't look like much with that view). That leaves us with The Crew taking on Sexy Star, and some stuff looked better than others but I thought this was effective if they actually plan on continuing to push Star. Ryck comes down the temple stairs looking like one hoss motherfucker, allowing Star to get a reverse roll-up on Bael (jeez he could have at least attempted to get one of his shoulders down for the pin. He was leaned way up into her ass crack so that it didn't even look like a pin). Striker even made a Donovan Morgan reference, which is weird.

PAS: I would have rather seen the first part of this match be a little more even until they started taking people out. Pimpi is a great brawler, and he falls really fast. I did like the curbstomp on the chair, if you a writing someone out, that is a nasty way to do it. There were moments in the Sexy Star match, but other stuff did not look good.

ER: Kind of a flat show this week. Most weeks the hour breezes right by but this one kind of dragged. Not much good in the wrestling department and not much to the backstage segments.

PAS: Yeah this was the worst show they have done. Also really odd booking having implied sexual assault in three separate segments. Really hurts the main event threatened rape, if that is an undercard spot too. Really feels like the part of Foley's book where he had a bloody match planned against Gilbert and they ran a first blood battle royal as the opener.


LUCHA UNDERGROUND MASTER LIST

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Belligerent Ghouls Run Regal's Schools

William Regal v. Daniel Bryan v. R-Truth WWE 11/9/10- GREAT

Kind of a WARish lineup, I can't remember why these three guys would be wrestling each other, but it worked surprisingly well. Truth worked a bunch of really fast rope running exchanges with Bryan and which made it more juniorish, and when Regal and Bryan would match up they would just rip into each other. You can tell Bryan was loving working Regal in London as he was doing some Regal mannerisms, including a curtsey and the phony handshake exchange. Not a ton of three way spots, but there was a great stacked superplex where Regal just hurled both guys down. Real neat discovery.

COMPLETE AND ACCURATE REGAL

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MLJ: Enter: King Haku 1: King Haku, Pierroth Jr., Vampiro vs Dr. Wagner Jr., Emilio Charles Jr., Negro Casas

1993-08-22 @ Arena Coliseo
King Haku, Pierroth Jr., Vampiro vs Dr. Wagner Jr., Emilio Charles Jr., Negro Casas


Back to 2010 next week, but I need to break things up now and again or I go a little nuts. I've got a few things I'm going for here. First, I need to watch scattered amounts of Negro Casas in the early 90s because of something I'm going to do with OJ later on. I'm behind on that. Second, I really want to see some Haku in Mexico. Yes, I've more than learned to love lucha for the sake of lucha but I like seeing some wrestlers I'm familiar with in this setting as well. I'd say that seeing some prime Vampiro would be important too, just for historical value, but it's really not. Seeing Wagner, Jr. under 30 was kind of interesting though.

So this was a pretty weird match. It was two falls, and two fall matches can do weird things structurally. This one had a long showcase primera, where everyone pretty much got to wrestle everyone else, where the action kept flowing, and where the tecnicos got to look great. Then, between the falls, there was a beatdown on Vampiro on the outside, a pretty vicious one at that. You'd think the segunda would be a numbers-game beatdown on the remaining tecnicos, but it never really picked up that way. It was, instead, about them beating the odds (and the rudos) in a pretty convincing fashion until Casas made a desperation foul on Haku to end things.

I'm not 100% sure how to write this up, because I have about 10 gifs I want to post but I'm not sure I really want to go into too much depth on the action. I think I'm going to talk about it a bit more and then just post away. In general, the storytelling broke down both at the beginning and the end. In the beginning, it's because they gave away some match ups too early. For instance, Wagner was dodging Pierroth and that could have made for an interesting start to the match but after a bit of stalling they went right to it. Wagner was already good at letting things breathe, even if he, in the rudo role, didn't really get to show much of his charisma. Pierroth was pretty fiery though. I liked Haku's matwork stuff a lot. You forget that he could do stuff like this. It wasn't high end or anything, but it was simple and straightforward and effective, the sort of stuff you could see him doing in Montreal in the mid-80s against Martel or Bockwinkel. Neither Charles nor Vampiro showed me much. The crowd seemed split for Vampiro, with the girls cheering for him and others booing. He had some energetic rope running exchanges but nothing memorable. Charles was fine but just didn't get to do enough. He was definitely the third guy on his side. In some ways, I like (and miss) primeras like this. Right now, in CMLL, they'll run long falls, usually terceras, but they are more structured, with quick cut offs and switches, and a lot of tecnico vs the world sequences, and I like structure, but how wide open this was can be really enjoyable sometimes. Yes, they didn't keep a clean throughline of story but they also didn't lose things completely.

The best interaction of the match was Casas vs Haku, because Casas wasn't afraid to bounce off of him and eat all of his stuff and cower in utter fear. You'll see it in the gifs, but he just got completely killed, flying across the ring after a chop, eating an insane power bomb to end the primera and an even more insane choke slam later on, and my god, the foot choke! It's probably the best I've ever seen and Casas was so good in both taking and trying to fight back to prevent it. Haku had press slams and this crazy loose powerbomb where he almost pressed him. At one point (though I didn't capture it), he even caught Casas off the top with a press. He just looked like an absolute beast here.

The destruction of Vampire was well done too. I'm sure that went somewhere later. It was mostly Charles but Wagner got in on the act too. They took out the arm and then posted him heinously, and whenever he started to get up, while the action was going on in the ring, they'd just keep on him. It's just a shame that it never really led to a rudo advantage of any length. By the end of the match, Haku was just hitting bombs and the numbers game was there mainly to just break up the pins. It was really meandering by that point. Sure, the rudos didn't completely lose their heat between the destruction of Vampiro and the DQ finish (to avoid a German which I swear would have been the nastiest German ever), but this could have been far less one sided, especially after the power play began and still gotten the point across.




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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Eye on the Indies: CZW Déjà Vu 9/27/14

Wanted to see this show for the Busick/Gulak match, figured I would watch the whole thing since I don't know most of the other guys; Get my brain caught up on some current indy guys.

1. Mason Price vs. The Preacher

I kinda dig the Preacher's vibe. He's a small guy with an old face, like an emaciated MC Gainey, with a big scar across the back of his shaved head. Actually he looks like a really skinny Christian, but with mixologist facial hair. Price looks like Jim Norton working an army gimmick, but an army guy who des a lot of thigh slaps. Match itself wasn't bad, but Price was very much not good. He had zero follow through on any of his strikes or moves. He'd throw a back elbow or pump kick and just kind of stop right where the point of contact would have been. It made all his stuff look like guys going over their moves in the ring before a show. He'd even do it on bigger moves like a Blockbuster, just kind of go through the motions of the move. Preacher had a Jimmy Jacobs vibe, some weird strikes, nice bumps (including flying wildly into a release German), good elbow drop. I'd like to see more of him.

2. Alex Colon vs. Latin Dragon

Lousy video game wrestling filled with reversals that weren't and big moves that didn't matter. Colon wanted to have his cake and eat it too, not really deciding on what kind of character he wants to be. He wanted to be eye raking cheap shotting point at my head heel, but also wanted to do some This is Awesome spots. Some of the reversals were mind numbing. Dragon did a tope, and Colon just didn't sell the tope and gave him a suplex on the floor. Dragon did a nasty reverse rana, then turned around and Colon just small packaged him. A lot of those reversals where you go "oh, so that move just had zero impact I guess." That nasty suplex on the floor I mentioned, which also saw Dragon partially getting slammed into a support pole, and the announce crew talking about a possible broken foot….well Dragon was rope running mere moments later. Yuck.

3. Joe Gacy vs. Aaron Williams

This one had me until it totally lost me. The match gets about 15 minutes to do its thing, and the first half was mostly based around headlock exchanges, some strikes, and then Williams working over Gacy's knee in cool ways. I really dug Williams twisting the knee and ankle and dropping knees on Gacy's knee, and also digging into it with his elbow. Gacy was really good about selling it, really showing how it was slowing him down as every time he would try and transition back to offense Williams could see it coming a mile away. And then suddenly a switch got flipped and Gacy just had to do a whole shit ton of moves with most of the knee stuff a distant memory. It was really like two different matches, and once it turned into "workrate sprint" it turned into a much weaker match.

4. Sozio vs. Caleb Konley

I'm…starting to remember why I don't do more reviews of full indy shows, and why I stay unfamiliar with a lot of indy talent. This one had a couple compelling moments, I liked a lot of Sozio's arm work, and Konley did a fine job of selling the arm damage done, but it didn't save me from a really bad elbow exchange showdown with super slow roaring elbows. Sozio was one of those guys who I couldn't tell if he was a comedy guy or if he was super serious. Sometimes he seemed serious, but then would throw these goofy sweeping crescent kicks and wrestled the first exchanges of the match still in his overcoat. His mafia kick that ended the match looked good at least.

5. Kimber Lee vs. Nevaeh

This was fine although a lot of the stuff seemed overly rehearsed, especially the opening "they know each other so well!" stuff. In fact the more I think about it the more I realize this whole match was practically built around "Kimber goes for this move and misses! Nevaeh follows up with this move and that misses!" kinda stuff. You get your German suplex tradeoffs, your forearm exchanges, you know the drill. I liked one of Kimber's submissions here and both girls seemed willing to lean into things. So that counts for something.

I talked with Phil and it came up that I was reviewing a full CZW show. Phil's response: "Yeah that was a weird thing for you to do."

6. 4 Corners of Ultraviolence: Ron Mathis vs. "The Wrench" Conor Claxton

I really dug this. This was a pretty classic brawl that wouldn't look out of place on older IWA-MS shows. I had never heard of either guy before. Mathis just looks like an athletic kick pads guy, Claxton looks like Dean Ambrose, and they both took and dished out some nasty shots in this. This was constructed really nicely as there aren't just weapons shots for the sake of weapons shots, the early non-weapons work was tight, and once we devolved into weapons the order went pretty logically. Mathis controls most of the early stuff, beating Claxton around the ring and then grossly stapling a dollar to his forehead (which awesomely stays on the rest of the match) and eventually Claxton gets ahold of a chair wrapped in barbed wire (which is a pretty good way to get the advantage to swing back to you). The chair shots were really nasty as they weren't held back much and Mathis took a bunch of shots to his back and sides, the first shot off his arm instantly left a dozen cuts. Claxton went for a light tube and aimed to superplex Mathis into it but took too long, allowing Mathis to reverse into a tornado DDT through broken glass. Gross. Eventually we got tacks in the mix too and they did a few fun tacks tease spots with one of them coming close to falling into them, steadying himself, reversing a move out of them, until both of course take the plunge. Also get the excellent spot of Mathis putting tacks into Claxton's mouth and punching him in the face, with Claxton doing a classic Danny Thomas spit take with tons of tacks. I thought this whole thing was awesome. Their work in between weapons shots was snug, weapons stuff built logically and looked great, didn't go into overkill. This is pretty much what you would want out of this kind of match. Very pleasant surprise.

DJ Hyde comes out but gets interrupted by LuFisto beating him with a stick and they brawl around for awhile. Great spot where Hyde catches her off a dive and launches her at a rough angle through a bunch of chairs. And then that spot is immediately ruined by an announcer saying "We have our Ray Rice moment here in CZW." Eventually LuFisto pulls a knife on him which is just…yeah.

7. Shane Strickland vs. Flip Kendrick

Well this was awful. This match was one 15 minute mirror sequence worked in 3/4 time with most shots missing. Oof. Kendrick is a guy I've liked in almost all the stuff I've seen him in. Strickland is a guy I've never seen before. This was the worst Kendrick performance I've seen, and I never want to see Strickland again. Strickland works the same way Chris Hero did when he was doing his 2001 JAPW extra flips gimmick, except Strickland doesn't seem to do it with a wink. At one point he hit a dropkick, but only after doing a 619 to get to the apron, then somersaulting over the ropes back into the ring. Every move he did had an extra spin leading into it, except he moved so cautiously and slow that it looked strange, like he would get dizzy if he spun around too fast, so he would slooooowly rotate and then just hit an enziguiri or something. The match started with both men slowly running through a bad super choreographed mirror exchange, filled with ducked kicks and dropkicks performed at the same time and stereo kip ups. It was done so slowly and poorly that it looked like clever satire of indy wrestling. Kendrick was moving slowly through his stuff the whole match, a lot of his strikes looked bad, and a lot of the move execution was bad or awkward. A Code Red that was supposed to fling Strickland into a turnbuckle ended with both men slowly tumbling into the corner. Match ended with Strickland hitting a double stomp off the rope, in theory. He really just jumped and landed with his feet on either side of Kendrick, with the camera zooming right in on it. It must have looked as bad live because it was pretty silent when it got the 3 count. Not sure if this poor performance is the norm for Strickland, but if this was the only thing I'd seen of Flip I'd assume he was an awful worker. Yuck.

8. Biff Busick vs. Drew Gulak

PAS: This was the rematch of their CZW title match in May. I haven't really been following the booking but here we have the heel/face dynamic reversed with Gulak coming in as the face and Busick as the bruising heel. This started out with some of the great grappling that these guys bring to the table, with cool armbars and short arm scissors and knuckle locks. Both guys are really great at forceful looking matwork, all of the counters looked like the guy countering was using every ounce of his strength to reverse the hold. Match switches gears when Gulak takes a pair of huge bumps, he gets thrown off the top rope to the floor and cracking the small of his back on the apron (leading to a nasty bruise over his kidneys, he was pissing raspberry tea on the 28th) and getting backdropped into the second row wiping out a fan. Then Busick is controlling, beating on Gulak, with Drew having his moments. This was well on it's way to surpassing their best match up, when sort of out of nowhere Busick counters a suplex into a roll up for a pin. I can't believe I am criticizing a US Indy match up for underkill on its finish run, but I was expecting it to really kick into gear and it just ended. Still much to love and this is a match up that consistently delivers.

ER: Man I love what these guys do, and I love how things have a sense of ending at any time due to both mens' knowledge of reversals and leverage. I agree with Phil that this could leave matches ending without as much drama as they could have built to. But at the same time it keeps me glued to the whole match in the same way I was glued to RINGS matches. Gulak is an ideal wrestler for me. I'm fascinated by all his movements and his combo of skills, maybe the most exciting "new" guy for me this decade. He always breaks out cool unexpected things that make me flip out as a wrestling fan, like his cool roll-up reversal of a Busick leapfrog here. I wasn't even expecting anything to happen there because it just seemed like any other wrestling rope run segment, until Busick leapfrogs and Gulak slides under with the great flash false finish. These two are so good they really make meaningless moments of wrestling mean something. The struggle between them is always so satisfying, I loved moments like Gulak dishing out cupped slaps to Busicks back and head, slowly gaining him access to the arms, moving into a bodylock, into a nasty variation on the Gu-Lock…and I like that he can go through all that but Busick gets a near immediate rope break. Other times they can get a reversal neither were expecting that leaves them in far greater dominant position. I like that ebb and flow of their stuff. The Gulak bumps Phil mentioned were sick and took the match in a welcome and different direction than I expected. Both guys lend an authenticity to their matches; I never feel like they're moving through one spot mechanically to get to the next part of the match. At one point Gulak really wrenches in a hammerlock that is ultimately inconsequential to the larger segment they were working, but that hammerlock looked like a real terror, a real nasty twist, and I could easily see capable but lesser mat workers just going through the motions and not wrenching in a transitional move like that, too busy focusing on what was "supposed to" happen next. These guys might not be for everybody, but for me they're right up their with my favorite all time wrestling. I hope we get to see these guys do their thing for years.

***Note: The Busick/Gulak match was easily good enough for Phil and I to add it to our 2014 Ongoing MOTY list, nestled cozily into spot #37. Instead of doing a whole separate post with my review copied over, I just added Phil's thoughts from the match here. Our full MOTY list linked at the bottom***

9. Ohio is 4 Killers (Jake & Dave Crist) vs. The Juicy Product (JT Dunn & David Starr)

ER: Well, this match was kind of difficult. Stuff I liked, stuff I hated, and then a fair portion of the match completely invisible! Match starts with the Crist brothers diving out of the ring, and they brawl out through the crowd, and outside. The problem is that the crowd was really dark, and the cameras weren't really equipped to follow the action around. What's worse, is when they brawled outside the cameras couldn't follow them. So I just had to fast forward until everybody made it back inside. Jake had a lot of color happening, not sure how it happened. The announcers didn't know either as they stayed at the table and kind of guessed what could possibly be happening outside. I'm sure it was cool for the live crowd, but a weird thing to do on a IPPV where workers should know your filming limitations. Even back inside the building doesn't do much as things are super dark so you can't really see what's happening. Juicy lawn darts Dave Crist into the concession stand. Minutes later Dave appears on top of the concession stand and does a wild Thesz press off the top of it (at least 9-10 feet up). After many, many, many minutes we finally end up in the ring for the match to officially start. There was actually a pretty good FIP story going on with Jake beaten bloody and Dave also gassed from the beatdown, and both Crist guys had some good comebacks and hope spots. But then the match hit the spot where it should have ended, and kept going…and going…and then kept going. They peaked the drama well, and it's just too hard to keep peaking that numerous times in a match. All the guys had some stuff that looked good. There were a couple double team tombstone variations that were nasty, one with Jake hitting a tombstone while Dave hit a double stomp off the top to drive it down. Dave also had an epic double knee drop off the top, and actually threw a really great looking mule kick (it's really hard to throw a nice spinning mule kick). Starr had a couple of neat power spots, and Dunn took some big bumps off clotheslines and other moves. Also, everybody apparently had a bet going to see who could throw more superkicks. At one point we had six consecutive superkicks from everybody. And there were so many more. So yeah, the match had tons of overkill but a lot of the stuff in the overkill looked good. I think the match could have been really great if laid out a little tighter, but as a spot spectacle it was plenty fun.

OVERALL: This was a good enough show, with some nice peaks but also some subterranean lows. The Gulak/Busick match was great, and I also really loved that weapons match. Kendrick/Strickland was one of the absolute worst matches I've seen this decade, but The Preacher was a cool guy I had never heard of that I'd like to see more of, same with Mathis and Claxton. The Crists were also better than I remembered (though had the same faults I remembered).


2014 MASTER MOTY LIST







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Monday, February 23, 2015

MLJ: Hechicero Spotlight 5: Héctor Garza vs Rey Hechicero [CMLL HEAVY]

Taped 2011-11-01 @ Arena Coliseo Monterrey
Héctor Garza vs Rey Hechicero [CMLL HEAVY]



Well this was a happy accident. As I mentioned previously, we have about one match per year online for Hechicero. Our 2011 match just happens to be vs Hector Garza. I didn't plan it that way. This was on an indy show in Monterrey but was apparently still for Garza's CMLL Heavyweight Title (he won it in August and held it until he went to Perros del Mal just a few weeks after this match). I had high hopes for this due to kismet and because I had seen signs of Hechicero's work really coming together. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a disappointment, though not without its charms.

Let's start with the pros. Garza wasn't slumming. There's a laconic image to him during this period, certainly, but it's character-work not a lack of effort. He still flipped off the top rope and had zing on his rope running and took bumps. Moreover, there was no sign of him  seeing Hechicero as below his notice or anything like that. It was a very even match that felt like a big deal. I'm not sure about Hechicero's reputation at this point, but it did feel like Garza enjoyed having a match like this on this stage where he could really breathe.

That brings me to the other thing the match really had going for it, a different structure than all of the CMLL title matches we're used to. This was absolutely not a CMLL Ultimo Guerrero Heavyweight title match. It didn't have a quick primera, followed by an even quicker segunda where the loser got his fall back, followed by a laying-around heavy tercera with bombs and selling without a lot of meaning. The primera was fairly sure, with a feeling out segment of matwork followed by a fall out of nowhere, but they continued to work it into a much longer than usual segunda, before going into a fairly dynamic tercera without that selling. In fact, maybe because I'm so used to the other format, it messed up the build to the finish for me a bit. It felt like it came out of nowhere. They also were able to layer moves and repetition and all that good stuff, and it was definitely fun to see Garza interact with Hechicero's quasi-indy move set.

So in theory, this was very good. The problem was in the execution. I'm not a huge execution guy in general. I value storytelling and character work much, much more, but if you're going to try to do some complicated hold or roll-up, you have to be able to hit it. Hechicero stumbled through getting his leg over Garza's head twice. He also barely locked on his grounded, locked, abdominal stretch, and that in itself would have been fine but it was the finish of the primera. Immediately thereafter he went up to the second rope to celebrate and stumbled, and there, at least, he recovered very well by playing to the crowd. It was all set up in a fun way by Garza throwing his pants at Hechicero and then his shirt, with Hechicero ducking the second time to bring it to a finish but then the actual finish had been messed up.

I have a hard time faulting them too much though because the little things and the character work were good. I loved how Hechicero dug the elbow to the ribs on a later hold and then Garza returned the favor. They had a goofy little pants-pulling spot that seemed to amuse the hell out of Garza. They traded moonsaults throughout the match in an enjoyable way (and Hechicero made for a great base for the one that ended the segunda). The tercera didn't have the usual overselling, but they might have gone back the other way as the action really just kept going. It was at the end of one of those moonsaults where Garza was able to get his feet up and lock in a Tapitia, where both guys' shoulders were down for the Draw. Garza obviously got his up but the ref was giving him (and even the ring girl) a hell of a hard time throughout the match so who knows.

It was an entertaining bout but didn't quite meet my expectations. I'm not sure if Hechicero was nervous given the scope of it or just not used to working with Garza or what, but it was a shame since there was a good match in there. It just didn't completely come together for some of the big moments.

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

WWE Fastlane Live Blog

1. Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan & Ryback vs. Seth Rollins, Big Show & Kane

PAS: Pretty fun poor man's Shield trios match. They should just open every PPV with a six man, and give it some time. It is a good way to hide limited guys, they can just come in and hit their stuff. Thought Rowan looked really good, the bump to hurt his knee was cool, and his selling was good. Finish run wasn't as great as your Shield end runs, but I loved the running KO punch finisher. Not the most unique way to reintroduce Orton, but it was a good idea to have him go away for a bit.

ER: A six man is pretty tough to do poorly if you give it time, and this was a perfectly good six man. I read they had plans to make Rollins look strong on this show going into WM, and Rollins arguably looked like the weakest guy in the match. Rowan owned this match, if they wanted to push it as such it could be a real nice way to advance him. He looked strong in all his early stuff, big elbow and leg drop, and was going toe to toe with the big guys, until the brutal spin kick into the post (which looked good). Then he was a good FIP (even putting over Show doing goofy-but-amusing Indian deathlocks) all building to him using his dead leg to spin kick Rollins. Ryback was over and came in and hit some cool stuff, loved his powerbomb that just launched Rollins. Finish was a little lackluster and Kane really needs to stop getting PPV wins, and I was really enjoying my Orton vacation, but again the six man is tough to mess up and this worked  in a vacuum. As far as booking going forward? Rollins was an afterthought throughout, Ziggler refuses to not get any sort of chance, and I doubt Rowan gets a strong singles push.

2. Goldust vs. Stardust

ER: I thought they did about as much as possible with the full non build they received. A rushed break up one week before the show, thrown out on PPV with not much story or reason. I'll never understand their obsession with breaking up teams who nobody actually thinks will be better off solo. They've tried Cody solo, he's always far more successful in team. Goldust is obviously a great singles worker but they're not actually going to push him as a singles star. So I thought the match was fine even though Cody works much better as a tag guy. Goldust tried his damnedest to get the crowd into it and I liked his selling of the body vice, even holding his side convincingly all through the post match. Goldust dished some nasty back elbows while in the vice, and even though that finisher came out of nowhere I thought Goldust setting it up was super impressive. The guy is 45 and moved through all those reversal sequences like butter. Cody only really looked good in the backstage post match stuff, lacing into Goldust with stiff rights and nailing a low superkick. Still not sure about the need to break them up, or where the hell they take things from here.

3. Usos vs. Cesaro/Tyson Kidd

ER: Cesaro is wearing knee pads and after years of being conditioned the other way this now looks weird (even though it took a long time to get over guys like Casas who go in there with just boots and undies). And damn I really dug this. Cesaro/Kidd worked really great as a team. Usos have been dry as dirt the last few months so I liked Cesaro/Kidd working over the leg in the first part. The knee stuff was cool with Cesaro hitting the wild double stomp. This is the best Kidd performance I've seen in some time, he looked really on point and his timing was spot on. Loved the stuff on the apron with him booting an Uso in the face, going for another and getting rocked with a Samoa drop into the guard rail. That was a great spot. Cesaro gets to break out his epic superplex lifting the guy from the apron, and I'm glad they put the titles on them. Usos had a good run and I think they need to go back to fighting from under. Finish was abrupt but I liked the call back to the leg as Kidd blasting him in the knee was enough to allow him to hit his rolling fisherman suplex to win it. Nice tag. Still kinda crazy to think that we were getting a couple tags better than this every week on TV one year ago.

ER: I have zero interest in seeing a HHH/Sting confrontation. It will lead to HHH vs. Sting, which sounds horrible. I switch over to the Oscars during this. I saw most of the Best Picture noms this year. Boyhood and Whiplash were really great. Imitation Game was brutally bad. I liked what Birdman went for but felt more like a good idea than a good movie to me. Not a shock I loved Grand Budapest as well. American Sniper sounds like the name of a Toby Keith album.

4. Paige vs. Nikki Bella

ER: Boy another abrupt finish. Paige looked somewhat clunky, as her roll up into a turnbuckle was really weird. Dug the kick to a charging Nikki's arm, liked Nikki's selling of it, loved her big powerbomb. But I've seen better Nikki performances.

5. Dean Ambrose vs. Bad News Barrett

ER: Crowd is ice cold for this whole show and I think it's making things come off way worse than they actually are. Some guys have gotten chants but for a full looking house (all the cheap seats look full on cutaways) there have been a lot of silent moments. There's a black dude dressed up as Sting in the crowd but with his beanie it's reading more like Dead Presidents.

Oh god and we a DQ finish for not breaking a hold? Are we back to that thing where refs are supposed to call matches as if they were a shoot? That was about as limp a way to end a PPV match as possible. And hilariously it happens one minute after the crowd was actually threatening to get into the match. Both guys leaned way into each other's shots with Dean making all of BNB's big boots look great, and Wade really taking Dean's running dropkick and two rebound lariats nicely. Loved Dean's rebound lariat on the floor when BNB tried to throw him into the ring, and the rebound in the ring was the most the fans reacted to anything all night it seemed. And then. that. finish. Good gracious.

ER: Pretty sure the only people in the arena who thought Undertaker was in that casket was Cole and JBL. Although it is amusing to think about Bray Wyatt going through the process of hiring druids for this bit. Also liked them putting over how silent the crowd was out of reverence to the Undertaker. Looks like they've been paying that reverence for almost 2 hours now.

ER: I was just reminded that we didn't get Elimination Chamber this year because we got this show. Blecch. The Chamber was my favorite WWE gimmick match, always a fun way to use 6 guys. But hey. We got Fastlane.

6. John Cena vs. Rusev

ER: Really excited for this one as Cena vs. Monster matches are usually almost as dependable as Lawler vs. Monster matches. And the match ended up being good. Not the epic I was hoping for, but hopefully setting up an epic. I'm glad Rusev went over (although with their booking that usually means he will be going down at Mania), and I like him blasting Cena in the nards and locking on The Accolade. Cena's biggest strength has always been his bumping so he's always really effective in these kind of matches. Rusev still sometimes comes off as a guy with fake "real strength" but Cena is good at working with those types too, making throws seem more devastating. Cena also totally plants himself on a DDT that was a great spot. Loved the reversal into a Crossface by Cena, and enjoyed the match as a whole.

7. Daniel Bryan vs. Roman Reigns

PAS: Man you forget how good Daniel Bryan is at wrestling. This was really excellent. Reigns is a guy with some impressive spots, and Bryan built a really cool match around those spots. The liver kick was an awesome looking counter and working around him being stunner, makes Bryan smacking around a bigger guy much more credible. I loved Reigns as Rampage Jackson beating his way out of submissions with nasty forearms. I would hope that we get a rematch if Reigns wins the title. The Memphis crowd acting like this was Bill Dundee v. Big Red Reese hurt this a bit, but I still think this was WWE Match of the Year.

ER: Yeah this was really good, although I didn't love the finish of Roman taking tons of abuse and hitting a flash Spear. Not really loving the idea of The Spear as a death move, and didn't love how Reigns not only got to kick out of the knee but acted like he was pretty okay afterwards. Those are my complaints, the rest of the match was awesome, easily the best singles match Reigns has been a part of, and an awesome return to form for Bryan. This had some great moments and an epic build. I loved Reigns getting caught in an armbar, and then it looked like Bryan lost it but it worked great kayfabe as it allowed him to maneuver naturally to the center of the ring and lock in a particularly nasty YES lock. Bryan really laced in with those kicks, and the sequence of Roman catching that last kick (and you knew Bryan was taking just a biiiit too long to throw it), leading to them throwing slaps was awesome. Also loved Reigns catching the second dive was great, as after the first dive I thought "That didn't have the same impact his dives normally do" so it was already in my head that it was blockable, and then bam, caught, nasty throw. Jeez then we had the one spear attempt countered into the small package. Great match.







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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Pro Wrestling Revolution Workrate Report 2/14/15

The final match from the overly milked 6/8/14 Watsonville, CA show and perhaps the most intriguing as it's old lumpy Pirata Morgan working in a crappy small town with his nephew as his second. To my knowledge this is the first Demon match in PWR against another actual luchador. All the others have been against NorCal heels like various members of La Migra, or weird matches like the Jushin Liger singles match at a fairgrounds.

1. Pirata Morgan vs. Blue Demon Jr.

Well the match was not great, but it seemed like they had a plan and succeeded in that plan. It's just that one is old and broken, and the other is just not very good. But they worked a 16 minute match and had almost enough to fill the time. Morgan tried to open with some matwork but Demon is maybe the least interesting mat guy in lucha history as he's not good at conveying anything while in holds, and he can't transition or reverse holds at all. The other guy just has to stop doing a hold, then hold still while Demon locks own a hold of his own. Morgan is a fine rudo throughout this, holds the ropes in amusing ways, has Bucanero casually cheat by holding Demon's boot, blasts Demon with a few stiff rights. Morgan also hits a mean fat old guy crossbody at one point. Demon doesn't do much with his comebacks, because Demon has absolutely zero sense of comeback timing, just no clue how to build drama so the matches always just kind of end when he feels like it. Amusingly the match ends with Demon's second grabbing Morgan's boot while Morgan is shot into the ropes, Morgan turning to yell at him, Demon getting a roll up and hero referee Tom Castor fast counting Morgan. This promotion is always obliviously bad at giving Demon wins that make him look like a rudo. It's like they're booking him against their will so they try and book him to look crappy. Except that's not the case.

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Friday, February 20, 2015

New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV Episode 6 Workrate Report

1. Karl Anderson vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan (8/4/13)

Wow, out of all the G1 matches from 2013 they could have shown, they lead with Anderson vs. Tenzan? Mauro assures me that I am seeing the greatest pro wrestling IN THE WORLD. I'm starting to think Mauro is a liar. Tenzan is still pretty much the same guy he was 15 years ago. The Anaconda Vise has always seemed like a pretty easy move in terms of getting to the ropes. Nothing about this was very good, and I'm not sure why Tenzan is the guy they'd want to expose to a national audience. I mean Shibata vs. Ishii from the same show was RIGHT THERE, featuring two far more relevant guys in an actual good match.

2. Davey Boy Smith Jr. vs. Satoshi Kojima (8/4/13)

Are they really just showing these two matches because TenKoji was a well regarded tag team when I was still a teenager? DBS always gets put over as a big time catch wrestler but most of the time he just works big man power spots. But hey I ended up enjoying this match. Kojima is still plenty spry and all his clotheslines and elbow strikes looked nice (and you know there are going to be plenty of clotheslines and elbow strikes in a Kojima match). A lot of the blocks and reversals looked real good, especially both men blocking each other's lariats (really loved DBS yakuza kicking Kojima's right arm which made Kojima spin around and blast him with his left) and the timing of everything throughout was real tight. Bullet Club interference can be clunky but here it's minimal with Taka grabbing Kojima as he went to the top, but then taking a great tumbling bump down the apron to the floor after Kojima clocks him. I mentioned DBS is always pushed as a catch wrestler and instead does power stuff, but that isn't a real disappointment as a lot of his power moves look good. He has a nice big boot, hard shoulder blocks, nice brain buster, really nice sit out powerbomb, took a nice fast bump over the top off a clothesline. He's essentially a very good Test. This was fun. Also, if you weren't aware of it before the match, Davey Boy Smith Jr. is the son of Davey Boy Smith, who was in the British Bulldogs with Dynamite Kid, and is also related to Bret Hart. This is information Mauro and Josh were polite enough to tell us about every minute.

They are cruel and have Nakamura before the match talking about what a great match Ishii vs. Shibta was and wondering how he was going to top that. Why would they not just show that match!? Maybe they're showing B block one week and A block the next?

3. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kota Ibushi (8/4/13)

This right here is a great GREAT match and easily the best thing they've aired so far, probably the best puro match of 2013. The stretch run of this match holds up as one of the best stretch runs of the decade, but really the whole thing is impeccably laid out. Nakamura was a nasty bully who underestimates a more than game Ibushi, and from there we get both guys just really clicking. All of Nakamura's strikes were brutal in this, with the Boma Ye's in particular just horrific (and Ibushi foolishly leaning way into all of them), and all of Ibushi's comebacks were fun and logical. Ibushi can pull off some spectacular flying spots that look effortless yet impactful. Loved his standing shooting star, immediately rolling through and nailing a springboard moonsault. His strikes also worked plenty well but really Nakamura was the story of this match as before this match happened I know I wasn't expecting much, but this match vaulted Ibushi into a "guy I actively like" status, and Nakamura up to the level of "guy I actively seek out". The way he tears into Ibushi is just epic, with some crazy kicks to the back of the head, a couple awesome running knees in the corner, all the Boma Ye's, a crazy flip out moment where he's just stomping on Ibushi's throat and screaming. He really made it look like this indy punk would upset him and that he had made the pompous mistake of underestimating him, and once he really turned it on he came off like a total sadist. This match also figures probably my favorite kickout ever, when Nakamura blasts Ibushi with a knee and Ibushi kicks out on one, fights to his feet and falls flat on his face, and immediately eats another Boma Ye for the easy 3. That spot could have come off so hack and Ibushi really nailed the mannerisms, with some Kawada level selling using his last bit of strength, really putting over that he kicked out at 1 on pure muscle memory but really had nothing left in the tank and was just a final gasp. Excellent match. I linked it above in case you hadn't ever seen it.

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MLJ: A Garza Odyssey 19: Gigante Bernard, Shocker, Strong Man vs Héctor Garza, Terrible, Texano, Jr.

2010-05-28 @ Arena México
Gigante Bernard, Shocker, Strong Man vs Héctor Garza, Terrible, Texano, Jr.

1:30 in
http://youtu.be/gdI8S2N2HPw
http://youtu.be/ozq_PIup4QM

The Garza train rolls on. Yes, this had more Strongman, but it also had Garza teaming with Terrible and Texano, Jr, which is just a killer rudo trio. Texano and Terrible really had a great act and I'm glad that I have a bit more time with the three of them now. I'm still not entirely sure where I'm going next or even how long I'll stay in 2010. I thought about ending at Sin Salida since I'm just about there but I might make it all the way to the Anniversary show, because that'd let me see some of La Peste Negro vs Los Invasores and Olimpico (who I am still high on from the 06 GdI stuff I saw) lose his mask. Moving on, I'm going to be headed to either the Casas vs Mistico feud or more likely the Terrible vs Rush feud. We'll see though.

This was sort of a double spectacle since it had a visiting Giant Bernard who had been pushed with bottom of the screen graphics earlier on. I know they had sent Sombra to New Japan around this time and obviously Tanahashi had just been in to win (and then lose) the trios titles. Bernard was going to be a rudo for the rest of the tour but for some reason he was on the tecnico side here. I get the impression that they pretty much ignored the Invasores stuff on the Friday night show too. CMLL politics and booking are, once again, beyond me.

This was Texano, Terrible, and Garza getting to play full on cowardly and dastardly rudos against the sheer force that was Strongman and Bernard. Shocker was there and maybe he had a terrible 2012 and 2013 but I really haven't seen lazy Shocker yet. I've seen overly pandering Shocker, sure, but he's been energetic and dynamic throughout. For what it's worth Garza's still shrugging about his turn and slapping fans' hands. He can't help himself. He's just bad by nature.

Ideally they would have run this with Shocker playing FIP and maybe even Strongman showing some signs of vulnerability in order to get Bernard over big. That's not really what happened. There weren't a ton of moments in the two caidas this went where the tecnicos were in trouble. Early on Shocker got to shine only to fall prey to Garza being nefarious, but it didn't last.

As I said, part of the story of the match was this: Texano and Terrible (and Garza) were used to Strongman; they knew how to deal with him. They were able to triple team and temporarily get the better of him, but Bernard was an unknown quantity. I don't think Strongman really played into that well, but Bernard did. Little things like a double noggin knocker that you don't see a lot in trios matches made him feel like a force in total control despite the fact he was double or triple teamed. He even got to walk over and kiss Commandante knocking her off the apron. The primera ended with both he and Strongman hitting Vader bombs in opposite corners. Then, as Garza went to break up the pins, Shocker hit the ropes, causing Garza to drop down in a pretty hilarious fit of begging.

There was about a minute of heat in the segunda. Commandate distracted the larger tecnicos on the outside, allowing for Garza to kick Shocker in the skull and for the rudos to swarm him. They did the double hiptoss in the double bomb. But Bernard found his way back and the expression Garza had when he realized it was golden.
It all came to a head shortly thereafter, with Shocker hitting a dive, Strongman locking in his torture rack, and Garza, when he tried to break it all up again, jumping right into Bernard's double choke bomb.

Certainly a good showcase for Bernard, but really that had more to do with the rudos being very good at what they did than the tecnicos getting out of the way to let him shine.

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

2014 Ongoing Match of the Year List

72. Diamante Azul/Dragon Lee/La Sombra v. Hechicero/Cavernario/Negro Casas CMLL 9/16

PAS: Just a great trios match with a bunch of guys hitting on all cylinders. Hechicero, Lee and Cavernario are such great additions to the CMLL mix. Hechicero does some really nifty twisty matwork livening up the normally dull Diamante Azul, Cavernario is a whirlwind, just flying around the ring getting huge air on all of the armdrags and monkey flips, while Lee also bumps big and throws in a huge assisted tope con hilo where he gets major air. While the young kids are doing there thing, Casas and Sombra are doing a only slightly bargain bin version of Casas v. Rush. I never cared much for high flying technico Sombra, but nasty fake technico Sombra throwing headbuts to the bridge of Casas's nose and mafia kicking him in the mouth I can get behind. Shocking how hard everyone was working in a random Guadalajara trios, so much fun

ER: It's weird to me how CMLL runs hundreds of trios matches per year, including tons of different ones where at least half of the opponents are the same, yet there's really no formula to predicting which ones will be MOTY level and which ones you forget the moment you're done watching them. There's no algorithm like "Blue Panther + Arena Coliseo + 3rd match from the top + minimum two other guys you like in the match = Really Good Match!" The matches all feature the same guys and sometimes they're really good and sometimes they're really not. Watching them all is pure insanity, but cherry picking your favorite guys can make you miss little unexpected gems. Now this match obviously has a bunch of guys worth going out of your way for, but it's also a Tuesday evening match in Guadalajara with nothing at stake. All of that just to say, this was really fun. Seeing Casas team with Hechicero and Cavernario is just a cruel middle finger with all the Felino/Niebla quarter assed performances making tape. La Sombra as rudo opportunistic shit kicker has been a real revelation this year, and his exchanges with Casas in this were excellent. Cavernario really went for broke here, Dragon Lee hit the highest tope con hilo of the year, Casas hangs back in a non-lazy way but just lets the young guys shine while throwing out great stuff of his own (helllllo headbutt to Sombra's face). Really really fun.


52. Rey Hechicero v. Barbaro Cavernario CMLL 6/20

PAS: Very good final, between the top two wrestlers in the tourney. Match was going good with Hechicero throwing Cavernario around early. Cavernario took briefly over until he caught his kneepad on the ring post and ended up crashing and burning on a dive. Hechicero clearly called an audible and really worked over Cavernario turning this into an underdog fighting to survive match. Cavernario got a couple of big hope spots, including the craziest superfly to the floor yet, but was mostly on defense, absorbing a beating and clawing his way back by biting at the knee, and headbutts. The finish was great, Cavernario survives some big spots, including a Liger bomb and a powerbomb into the turnbuckles, and as Hechciero gets him up in a submission he squirms down and hooks in his knees to the back camel clutch which has been his kill move all tourney. Really great match, with both guys on the fly working in a blown spot into a compelling match. Hell of a finish to a hell of a tourney

ER: Really great way to end the tournament, felt like both guys were really leaving it all out there. I will forever be curious what the plan for the rest of the match was, had Cavernario hit that misguided tope past the ring post. Hechicero is a great guy to take over and control a match as he has freak strength and it's easy to buy him as a man overpowering another. All his reversal spots and slams have more credibility and look more vicious because of this. Hechicero is also incredibly agile for a bulky guy, and his moonsault variations are among the prettiest in wrestling. His agility in his springboard moonsault to the floor was incredible. Barbaro is a total nut who absolutely despises his knees and decides to punish them with the nastiest big splash from the top to the floor possible. This was an exciting final to a tourney where both guys killed themselves. And for that they were awarded with the dinkiest looking trophies possible.


2014 MASTER LIST

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

MLJ: 2010: A Garza Odyssey 18: Strong Man & Volador Jr. vs Héctor Garza & Místico [Relevos Increíbles]

Taped 2010-05-24 @ Arena Puebla
Strong Man & Volador Jr. vs Héctor Garza & Místico [Relevos Increíbles]

7:48 in
http://youtu.be/zTZr2WZy_qE
http://youtu.be/lS8fXwvY278
http://youtu.be/CEC2EmCZyDw

A few notes to start. First, Mr. Aguila interfered at the end of that Sombra vs Psicosis match I don't have video of that was at the last show. Rayo de Jalisco, Jr. came out to even the sides so he's working with CMLL. Then the press conference happened (here's a link of pictures/recap: http://estrellasdelring.blogspot.com/2010/05/independientes-vs-cmll-proimo-6-de.html), where they announced Garza and Aguila the leader of the group and set up a bunch of matches for Sin Salida. They didn't announce Maximo vs Taichi hair vs hair yet, but that's a brilliant match idea since Taichi's hair was so freaking annoying. Normally the Sin Salida ('No Exit') name represented the cage match but this year they pushed away from the gimmick to do the Los Invasores series.

As of now, I intend to go through the whole card once I get there but we'll see. It wasn't a particularly strong card on paper. Either cubs or Rob (I forget which) pointed out at the time that the crowd who was going to go see LA Park vs La Parka (II) at the AAA show the same night weren't going to be swayed by Los Dinomitas vs Rayo. Maybe they would be partially swayed by CMLL running a $1 peso for kids promotion.

I've got a series of Strongman matches here, but they all have something going for them. In general, in small doses, I actually think Strongman was servicable. He was a useful prop, not unlike Porky in some ways, though Porky obviously brings a lot more charisma to the table. Strongman, on the other hand, bring strength and athleticism to some degree. Good wrestlers can use him, and the ones I'm looking at over these matches are Mistico, Garza, Terrible and Texano, Jr. Also, I'm glad to get a last look at rudo Mistico in the increibles match here because he's about to turn back once and for all.

So this was a revelos incriebles match, presumably because when announced, Garza was still on the line of turning and Mistico was about to turn back. I'm glad they got to work together like this at least once or twice though. Volador and Strongman were a pretty brutal team but at least they were over. In a US (See: Southern) tag match, Volador would eat the heat as face-in-peril and Strongman would make the hot tag. In Lucha that doesn't entirely work. Instead, they had a lot of drawing Strongman in so he could get double teamed from behind, and when they finally started to work on Volador it was effective, but only for a minute or two. They were preventing the tag, but ultimately it didn't matter as Volador just rolled out. It isn't totally ineffective since the idea is that rudos can double team so long as tecnicos can't mount a comeback but it's still a little backwards. Anyway, the primera ended with a tandem alley oop dropkick on Strongman and the use of Volador as a range weapon onto his partner, with a double pin followed by the appropriate image of Strongman sitting up pissed off.

Segunda was more of the same, with a decent amount of preventing the tag for no reason, before Strongman finally comes in, unleashed, allowing for the comeback, including Volador hitting La Mistica. Tercera was a reset and a lot of using Strongman as a prop and bouncing off of him before the eventual foul by Mistico and the challenges for a supre libre match.

The very best part of it was Garza's taunting after breaking up a tecnico advantage.
I've been watching his matches for the entirety of the year and his charisma was just off the charts amazing. His character work was so good and believable. He was absolutely the rogue you loved to hate and hated to love. Mistico on the other hand was a perfectly fine rudo. He did things right. He did them with meaning and gusto, and I think it fit his natural personality in some ways, but he was worth so much more as a tecnico. I'm not saying it's EASY to be a rudo dick, but there is a paint by numbers element to it. You still need to paint well and if you want to stand out, bring something unique to the table but Mistico's dynamic execution and energy and his connection with the crowd made him so much more valuable as a tecnico.

Anyway, this was fine for what it was but what it was had some endemic flaws. I'm kind of curious what they'll do with the Super Libre match.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV Episode 5 Workrate Report

1. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Jushin Liger, Togi Makabe & Captain New Japan vs. Karl Anderson, El Terrible, Tama Tonga & Bad Luck Fale (7/20/13)

Here we get 6 minutes of a 12 minute match, which is better than last week seeing 2 bad minutes of a 15 minute match (although I understand what they were doing by showing Devitt getting a big win over Tanahashi to set up this week's match against Okada). Bullet Club do better in these kind of multi man matches as Anderson and Fale aren't really guys you need to see in singles matches but do enough nice things in 8 mans that it works. Fale can throw out a big corner splash, Anderson can stooge for some Makabe clotheslines, it works. Tonga is probably the best of these guys and I imagine he has a WWE deal waiting for him if he ever wants it. All of his stuff has big impact and a nice snap, and it's funny he's in here with Terrible as he's basically works like a Tongan Terrible. I've never seen "Captain New Japan" before and boy is that goofy. He threw a nice uppercut, but man those velvet-y pajamas. I'm kinda surprised that I've enjoyed Tanahashi as much as I have during this TV run. Some of his little things look like junk, but he has gotten a lot sharper on his crossbodies, throws real nice back elbows, and especially looks good when compared overall against Okada. There was a fun run in here where everybody took turns chopping Fale down, with Tanahashi hitting him, Liger rocking him into the ropes with a palm strike, and then Makabe blasting him to the floor with a clothesline. This match was fine.

2. Prince Devitt vs. Kazuchika Okada (7/20/13)

Man Okada stinks. Every Okada main event they've shown has been worse than the last. The guy hits his shit, usually in the same order, at points in the match where it really doesn't make sense, most of the time it doesn't look that great, and none of the preceding offense from his opponent matters. Devitt didn't look great throughout a lot of this either, but he looked aces next to Okada. At least some of Devitt's offense looked nice, like his double stomps (his double stomp off the top through a chair laid on top of Okada was the nastiest thing in the match, but it didn't matter as Okada was up doing mirror reversal segments moments later). Because it was the Bullet Club we had tons of interference, and for the most part these guys all have really bad timing on their interference. I did like Devitt's stomp to Okada's groin while Anderson was holding him prone on the apron, and Anderson's powerbomb to the apron is a great looking spot, but a little too devastating looking for a guy to take so early into the match. Especially a guy like Okada who will render the spot meaningless within a minute. Barnett and Mauro are in the middle of putting over legendary ref Red Shoes Unno, right as he was completely oblivious to interference that was happening right in front of him. He had another awful performance, both in kayfabe ref terms, and just obnoxious camera hog terms. He has a horrible habit of selling for the wrestlers: Somebody will take a slam type move and he'll jump up holding his own back in pain. At one point both men were down for the count and he did this exaggerated shrug while looking all around at the crowd, making all these awful Sabado Gigante comedy faces like he had freckles and a comically large lollipop. At another point he repeatedly interjects himself in the middle of a forearm exchange yelling and getting in the way and getting completely ignored by the workers. This guy blows. Man this match stunk.


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Monday, February 16, 2015

Pro Wrestling Revolution Workrate Report 2/7/15

Another match from their 6/8/14 show in Watsonville, and after this one there's only Blue Demon vs. Pirata Morgan that hasn't been shown on that card. Boy they've really made that card last damn near two months now.

1. Mask vs. Hair: El Mariachi vs. Derek Sanders

Boy this was disappointing. A hate stip matches that never actually do anything to feel like stip matches. This just felt like a regular match these two would have had, that happened to end in Sanders getting his head shaved. Mariachi was especially bad as he didn't change up his routine in the least, worked this match the same way I've seen him work every other match. There was never any desperation from either man, no struggle, just a regular match that happened to have one participant's mask at stake. Mariachi genuinely worked the match as if he had no idea anything at all was at stake. The big hero of the match was made out to be referee Tom Castor, who ran out halfway through and triumphantly threw rudo ref Sparky Ballard over the top to the floor, even though up until that point Ballard had called the match pretty normally. There was one moment where he kind of argued with Mariachi which led to Sanders ambushing him. Other than that, nothing. It was a real weird moment that had Sanders pull Ballard in the way of a Mariachi missile dropkick, bumping Ballard. Then Sanders hit a move and went for the pin and got the visual 3 count, but Ballard was still selling the dropkick. Then Castor ran out and tossed Ballard. So we get the rudo getting the visual 3 (and then some), and then the hero ref runs in so I guess things will be more fair for Sanders? Real clunky stuff. Sanders looked good throughout this, really liked some of his punches (even shook out his fist after an especially nice one) but by the end this turned to your move/my move, with no drama. Mariachi did not look great throughout, though I liked his tornado DDT that ended the match, so finishing on a nice looking move counts for something. Still, very disappointing when what should be a major stipulation ends up getting worked like other matches I've seen between the two. Man Mariachi is not good. He's real sloppy when he tries to do "lucha" spots (real ugly springboard armdrag…thing…in this), and he does goofy stuff like a horrible people's elbow variation that sees him slam Sanders, then do a way too long zapateado before leaping into an elbow drop. Not only would it look silly in a normal match, it looked completely idiotic for a tecnico to be doing it in a match with his mask at stake. Horrible stuff, disappointing and clueless match.

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MLJ: Maximo Monday: Terrible © vs Máximo for the CMLL World Heavyweight Championship

Aired: 2015-02-07
taped: 2015-01-30 @ Arena México
Terrible © vs Máximo for the CMLL World Heavyweight Championship


This was interesting for a lot of reasons that don't necessarily have to do with the match itself. It's part of what seems to be a larger Terrible/Bucanero vs Maximo/Volador feud that might lead to a double hair match to help leverage Rey's recent taking of Felino's hair into something vaguely marketable. The idea of a title match as just a cog in a greater machine and not the end all is still a little jarring to me, but that's just the way it is, especially, I gather, with the Heavyweight title. Terrible has held the thing since January 1, 2012 (it was vacated when Garza left the promotion before that). It looked at points like Rush or Marco might win it, with Maximo not exactly a front runner. Exoticos don't often win singles titles in CMLL from what I can gather. So, because in some ways this was meant to be as much angle as match, or at least as much an angle-furthering element, and because Maximo, whose very existence stretches realities in some ways (his finish is, more often than not, a knock out kiss), there was definitely more BS in this match than you'd expect out of a CMLL title match. That said, I think it worked for what it was supposed to be. It's just that what it was supposed to be rubbed some people the wrong way and I think that's a completely understandable mentality. It didn't bother me too much because I was able to put it in context and I don't think that this was a precedent, though, of course, since Maximo won the belt, it almost has to be in some ways.

Structurally, it was definitely a CMLL title match in 2015. Feeling out to begin, followed by an escalation and a lightning pin by Maximo to end the primera. The segunda was extremely brief with Terrible catching Maximo out of nowhere and putting him down. It was also a momentum change so that Terrible could control the first part of the tercera. Eventually Maximo fought back and hit a dive and they both started selling. There's the finishing stretch with a few call backs to the primera and some big moves and fake finishes and then the BS card got played heavily for the finish.

In general, Terrible is one of my favorite Maximo opponents. I really like when they're paired off in trios. You're not always going to get the best action but Maximo plays off of Terrible's presence so well. In years past, that was through spine-chilling fear. In the weird world of modern CMLL where there really aren't a ton of tecnicos cheered for being tecnicos, Maximo, exotico as he is, stands out. I thought, given the storyline, they did a good job showing meaningful reactions from the seconds (naturally Rey and Volador) throughout the match too.

The tercera worked mostly well until the finish. Maximo came back with a couple of dives and the bombs were sufficiently meaningful to justify the selling. There was a Terrible superplex and the Maximo "run up the ropes for a top rope arm drag" that he beat Casas with a few weeks prior. Towards the end, he ran down the ramp trying to vault in but flubbed it, but frankly, they recovered so well by making it a fairly believable near-fall, that it didn't bother me.

The finish was sort of what you would expect. Maximo failed to lock in the same casita he won the primera with. The kiss of death didn't work (and that move is super protected so that was a surprise). The seconds became involved instead, with ref distractions and fouls, and a big dive by Volador that sent Bucanero into the stands. In the end, it almost felt like a team effort, which plays into the upcoming match, but didn't do a whole lot for the title change in the grand scheme of things. Not a bad match by any means, and the BS was totally functional and probably will serve its purpose in helping to heat up the upcoming match, but I don't think we're looking at a MOTYC or anything.

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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Dick Togo Get it Cross State With the Grace of Maria

Dick Togo/Men's Teioh/Shoichi Funaki/Shiryu/TAKA Michinoku v. Gran Hamada/Masato Yakushiji/Super Delfin/Gran Naniwa/Tiger Mask 4 MPRO 10/10/96 -EPIC

This is the most legendary Michinoku Pro match, and it was interesting to watch it with new eyes. It goes almost without saying that it is a great match. All three sections of the match were just classic. The early section with everyone matching up was special, everyone looked good, but I always love watching Togo flying around with Yakushiji, they are special dance partners, the Rogers and Astaire of lucha. When we moved into the KDX beatdown section, it was great to watch timing those five had on their combo moves, and the slambam finish was the kind of fired up cocaine bender you want, TAKA'S spaceman moonsault went into the sixth row, and Togo floated on his senton like a dirigible of fat ending in a Hindenburg style explosion. However, I think the fact that it went 40 minutes I initially saw as a benefit, I think it is a bit of hindrance here, it felt a bit flabby, and I think I prefer the tighter 20 minute version of this match. Also because this was a showcase, it had a little less specific story then some of the other matches, when you focus on everyone, you kind of focus on no one. Still minor quibbles to an epic match.

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Saturday, February 14, 2015

2015 Ongoing Match of the Year List

2. Negro Navarro/Trauma 1/Trauma 2 v. Ultimo Guerrero/Magnifico/Rey Hechicero CaraLucha 1/31

PAS: Awesome match, probably the best Dinanista Navarro trios since the Terry/Cerebro series. Ultimo Guerrero continues to be a revelation in these Maestro style matches, the opening section has Guerrero and T2 just tearing it up on the mat, violent looking and explosive some of the better lucha submission stuff I have seen in recent years. The brief exchanges between Navarro and Hechicero were as great as ever and Magnifico was fine in his fill in role. Still this was focused on Trauma 2 v. Ultimo, that was a match I had never thought about before, but it is high on my dream match scale now, finish run had those two getting a little violent with each other and it was pretty boss. First BTJR. gem of 2015.

ER: Damn, Ultimo Guerrero right!? I've not been as down on career UG as Phil, historically. When I got into lucha in the late 90s (first match I saw was some Virus vs. Oriental singles match when we first got cable TV and discovered we had Galavision) and UG was one of the guys I really loved. Then as I watched more lucha and time went by his mid 2000s style eventually became the style of lucha I avoided. Guys like Cien Caras that I used to hate when I began watching lucha were now the guys I actively looked forward to. I just grew apart from his style. But over the last couple years I've started appreciating what he brings again, now that I didn't have to see him in any blown up singles epics and just saw him in trios, bumping big and controlling action. But I don't think any fan of UG's could have predicted the few standout performances he's thrown out over the last calendar year. He's been so good in these matches that it almost makes you hate him for not ALWAYS looking this way. Now naturally it just lends more credence to the thinking that fine luchadors don't begin until 40, and these kind of performances are certainly getting me excited for age 50 UG. I liked Trauma playing the role of shit stirrer here, always running in and breaking up pins in dickish ways, slapping Hechicero in the head or kicking a guy in the back. Loved the Hechicero/Navarro segments and loved all of Navarro's quirky leg drags, felt like something I'd see in World of Sport. I wish they paced the falls more evenly as the last two were much quicker but the work in all of them was good.


2015 MASTER LIST

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Friday, February 13, 2015

Finlay May Be Warm In Flanders, But its Draughty in the Trenches

Finlay v. Rey Mendoza Jr. WNC 9/20/12 -EPIC

So cool that this match got to happen in the Finlay window. Mendoza is the unmasked Villano V, and I think the Villanos are the most Finlayish of the luchadores. We get all that we would want from this match up, starts out with very aggressive mat work, all of the counters had a bunch of struggle, nothing was smooth or fancy. Finlay reversing a grounded headlock is just beautiful, he grabs a leg and twists until Mendoza breaks and he puts on a knee crank of his own. Mendoza starts the brawl, as he cracks Finlay with a clothesline over the top rope, and hits him with a great old fat man tope. The last half is full of nasty clotheslines, over hand rights, and nasty bodyslams. This was gritty as hell, felt like a 70s crime movie as a wrestling match.

COMPLETE AND ACCURATE FINLAY

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Lucha Underground Episode 14: A Shot of El Patron Workrate Report

ER: Liked the Alberto/Dario interaction, loved the way Dario just changed the subject when Alberto asked him about the key.

PAS: Not a ton about Matanaza this week, I had some suggestions last week, but if what the WON says is true, the only real use of Vince Russo would be as a monster kept in a cage. Dario said he liked to destroy pretty things, and Vince Russo is the one guy wrestling fans would truly look at with terror.

1. Argenis vs. Fenix

ER: Total spotfest, but I dug it. Argenis didn't really look that good, but his two rana variations did and I'm a sucker for a smooth rana. This was one of the better Fenix performances, his rope assisted flip dive was crazy. There was no selling or transitions to speak of, but they never made any allusions to those things so it didn't really bother me. I think that's the key with me, no selling really bugs me when it's sporadic throughout a match, but if they establish right out of the gate "this is just going to be 5 minutes of our highlight reel" then I can just enjoy it like junk food.

PAS: Sure, this was a nice job showing all of their stuff,  Fenix needs to never throw a punch or kick again, still some cool dives, and they didn't make either guy do more then they need to do.

ER: Damn the Mil Muertes and Big Ryck vignettes killed it. Muertes lifting up Catrina by the throat like Darth Vader, Ryck still cool smoking cigars because he recognized the cigar didn't hurt him, people did, Muertes walking down the dimly lit hallway like Maniac Cop, loved the way Ryck was filmed and loved the cigar smoke as his face comes into light. Great stuff here.

PAS: Yeah those were both awesome, coolest Muertes has ever looked and Ryck as Man on Fire Denzel bent for vicious revenge is going to rule.

ER: I also love how they use Mariachi El Bronx. That's a sweet little bonus for a house band. Usually when there's a wrestling show with a band playing it's some lousy metal band that are friends of the promoter.

2. Son of Havoc vs. Johnny Mundo

ER: Not my thing. It's funny I just mentioned a spotfest that pretends there's going to be selling vs. one that just goes for broke with spots, and here we have the other side of that. We get Mundo screaming about his knee about one minute into the match, and then never see that injury again, yet we get to hear Striker and Vampiro talking constantly about his blown out knee, how Havoc is hooking that bad knee, how "that's not good for the knee" every time Mundo does a backflip and lands on his feet. It's like enjoying a B movie that knows exactly what it is, as opposed to a movie with big aspirations that just falls on its face. There were a couple cool spots in this, my favorite being Havoc running away from a Mundo dive but Mundo using his parkour (on a BAD KNEE!!) to flip back through the ropes and dive diagonally out of the ring to grab him anyway. But this was one of those matches where I just keep hoping for it to end after awhile.

PAS: Big mistake to book Mundo with a knee injury. He is a guy with some real limitations, and selling is one of them, I imagine if he had a hurt arm or neck, he wouldn't need to limit his offense, here he just ignores it and does all of his stuff anyway. The announcers go on and on about his blown out knee, but if this match was on mute, no way you would know it. I enjoyed Havoc in this, seems weird to have Barry Horowitz have cooler spots then your pushed highflyers, but he really hits some cool stuff, that fake where he topes the ring rope is awesome looking.

3. Ricky Mandel vs. Pentagon Jr.

ER: Feels like they should have shown highlights of Pentagon breaking Famous B's arm the other week, but I suppose it makes sense they didn't with him doing the same thing to Mandel. Although this promotion doesn't really do replays which is odd. They show a bunch of "last week on" at the beginning of the show, but there are a lot of times when a guy is walking to the ring and we hear "we remember last week when…" but there's no clip of the thing they're talking about, just the guy walking to the ring. But they are going in the right direction with Pentagon, feeding some lower tier guys to him and letting him walk circles around them. I wonder if this is going to lead to a bunch of one armed men coming back to haunt Pentagon?

PAS: Man Pentagon is a nasty fucker, I loved the counter into the backbreaker and the kick to the spine. I don't know who the Master is going to be, I think Vampiro is too genial at this point, LA Park would be perfect, but I am not sure how the lucha politics would work.

ER: I don't know the details about this, but Alberto feels like a pretty big "get" for them. I also don't know the details surrounding him leaving WWE, but hopefully this isn't one of those things where Vince decides to buy up a bunch of LU guys and then never use them. I mean, it would be amusing to see Vince buy Son of Havoc or other guys that have gone through developmental that they didn't originally want.

PAS: Promo was really good, Alberto really felt almost Eddieish, although if Russo is really coming in, he better get used to neckbeards making unfunny Mexican jokes behind his back, maybe Alberto will slap the shit out of him too. Think they hotshotted the Texano Jr. arrival, feels like that could have waited a week. Nothing great in the ring this week, but a lot of the booking issues I had a couple of weeks ago seem to be solved.


LUCHA UNDERGROUND MASTER LIST

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MLJ: 2010: A Garza Odyssey 17: Convergence

Taped 2010-05-16 @Arena México
El Alebrije, Histeria, Maniaco vs Brazo de Plata, Héctor Garza, Toscano


Embedding isn't working well on this one, unfortunately.

So, this is where it all comes together as if I knew what I was doing from the beginning. I really didn't. Garza had been straddling the line for a better part of a month now. He'd been having dissension with two sets of tecnicos, really, with Fantasma and Mascara on the one side (and he walked out on them costing them the trios title) and Porky and Toscano on the other, and of course had won the Gran Alternativa with a rudo, despite claiming that he still wasn't. Meanwhile, Los Invasores had invaded, most of them being previous AAA wrestlers.

All of that set the stage for this match which was the first time on TV that Garza teamed with Porky and Toscano since walking out on his other partners and since winning the Gran Alternativa the week before. It was also the first time he was paired up against the Invasores. Unsurprisingly things came to a head, though maybe in potentially ambiguous ways.

Like usual for matches of this project, this was the Garza show, with him stooging and hamming and emoting and everything else, while the Invasores got to show their dominance, Porky was able to be Porky and Toscano was able to fight against huge odds and show righteous fury towards Garza. As the culmination of a turn, it was anti-climactic but some of that was due to the sheer length of said turn. My gut says that they hadn't really worked out the whole Invasores thing when they began it.

This was my first look at Maniaco and he didn't really stand out as being much different from Histeria, but his mask was awesome, with a fully on bat in the middle of it, with eyes and fangs and everything. Over the top and it fit in perfectly with his stablemates. By the way, they had a bunch of little promos/videos with the invaders around this time, usually with Psicosis II doing the talking. They were all set in some sort of backstage factory type lot and involved them destroying things to high effect. They definitely played up on the wild elements they brought to the table.

The story of the match was Garza doing everything humanly possible to avoid tagging in and his partners getting more and more frustrated with him. Porky started the match by charging Alebrije on the ramp, which was pretty great, but then the rudos used their numerical advantage to take over. Even Kemonito looked like he was going to kill Garza as he kept pulling his hand back in or faking a leg injury. It was a distraction like that which let Cuije nail the poor little monkey guy from behind and knock him off the apron. Immediately thereafter, Cuije let himself be used as a projectile bomb onto Porky and the rudos pinned him. They followed that up with a brutal double armdrag into an Alebrije Power Bomb on Toscano, who then ate a Maniaco senton bomb as well to end the primera.

Then things got pretty perilous. First, Garza "accidentally" stands on Kemonito for about twenty seconds. Then, the rudos pulled out this insane spiked metal bat, the sort of thing you never see in CMLL during this era, and they spent about three minutes menacing Garza with it. They made a big deal out of this before Garza finally escaped untouched and started selling the leg again on the outside as Toscano pushed him. They went back in, did a reset and some decent sequence with Toscano before once again making a big deal about Garza coming in, this time, forced by his partners, against Alebrije. Even at this point Porky was trying to rouse the crowd to encourage Garza. Or mockingly encourage him. And I suppose to either their credit or their lack of credit, there was some animosity there. Garza played his character, trying to avoid conflict, going for the time out , but Alebrije kept pushing, and Garza fought back. While the bat sequence was cute, there wasn't any real drama here, except for whether or not Garza wasn't just a rudo now, but with the invaders.

We've seen dozens of great heel turns in tag matches where the turner avoids tags and contact until the last second. That didn't happen here. Garza just came off as so amazingly irritating that everyone wanted to hit him. That would have been well and good if he wasn't to be revealed at a press conference a few days later as one of the leaders of the faction. It made the back half of this match, once he started to get physical, seem weird. The tercera ended with Garza knocking Toscano off the top so the rudos could pin him and then just laying down so they could pin him, but we'd seen behavior like that out of him over the few weeks before. He seemed like he had turned up the passive aggressiveness but not like this was a big stop on the "turn" roadmap. Still, watching him stand on Kemonito (especially after how pissed the monkey was at him earlier in the match) was pretty damn entertaining, so the match had that going for it.

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