Segunda Caida

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

Monday, August 31, 2015

Digging in the Crates Podcast #2

Welcome to Episode #2 of the Digging in the Crates Podcast. Phil is joined by Kris Zellner as we add four more matches to the ongoing Schneider Comp, We also add some non-wrestling recommendations at the end.

Digging in the Crates episode #2

Here are some links to matches

Cactus Jack v. Tarzan Goto 10/5/95

Daisuke Ikeda/Takahiro Oba v. Kengo Mashimo/Makoto Hashi 10/24/10

Dean Malenko v. Bobby Eaton 4/27/97

Brazo Jr. v. Kortiz 9/24/14


The Violent Century by Lavie Tidhar

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MLJ: Chilanga Mask X-Mas in August 4: Caifan/Avisman vs Ultimo Guerrero/Hechicero

2015-08-16 @ Arena Naucalpan
Caifan/Avisman vs Ultimo Guerrero/Hechicero
Match starts 2:13:13

I'm really high on this match too. I don't think it's as good as the Virus/Cerebro match, but it's one of the most fun tag team matches I've seen in ages. Avisman brought it down a bit in general. Maybe he was more constrained in the Virus match I've seen him in previously, but he didn't look nearly as strong here as he did there. The other three were really on their game though. Indy Ultimo Guerrero is the second best Ultimo Guerrero (the first being Bandit King Apuestas Match Ultimo Guerrero).

I really liked how this was structured, and while a lot of the individual exchanges and spots and character stuff was good, that's what I'm going to focus on. I don't watch a lot of single-fall lucha, as a rule (not counting lightning matches/tournament lucha) but this match was very regimented in its different segments, and I thought that let it tell a very compelling story. Everything fit, even as if it would have been a three fall match. That could be what UG is used to, but it really showed you can let things breathe and have that sort of structure even in a one fall match and still have it seem natural.

Let me break it down. then. The match started with Guerrero vs Avisman with solid matwork. On another card, it might even stand out a bit, but here it was just solid. Guerrero showed more than he usually does in his home promotion, and Avisman was fine countering. They then moved onto Caifan and Hechicero, two guys who are so used to working with each other over the years, and it showed. High end stuff here, Hechicero wasn't playing heavy rudo, more of a cocky one, with good sportsmanship here. Lots of little leverage tricks building to trading suplexes and push ups, with Hechicero catching Caifan celebrating and Caifan coming back with one of the best headlock takeovers you'll see this year. Total one-upsmanship with moves traded, but it's early in the match that it really worked. So, two initial exchanges, one involving feeling out and the next involving one-upsmanship.

Finally, Caifan walked right over and smacked Guerrero on the apron and we had a funny moment of UG taking Hechicero's hand and coaxing him out so that he could get in and go after Caifan. They picked up the pace momentarily until UG sent Caifan out. He pulled Hechicero back in and they started doubleteaming, including a corner set up for the senton de la muerte. This is pretty much where a fall would come in a normal 2/3 falls match. Then we'd get the continued beatdown until the comeback, which is exactly what we do get. The rudos (and we'll keep calling Hechicero and Guerrero the rudos here even if it doesn't feel that clear cut) kept playing the numbers game. It wasn't all smooth and perfect but it was effective.

Unfortunately, the comeback spot wasn't so smooth with Caifan and Hechicero mistiming a lift up dodge in the corner. They recovered quickly into rudo miscommunication and a really strange double tope spot where Avisman took out Hechicero but Guerrero just moved out of the way letting Caifan wipe out. That led to some awkward chops back and forth, a reset into the ring, UG bumping out, Caifan following only to get tossed over the rail and the UG flying hip attack into the crowd. Fun stuff that let things switch over to Avisman vs Hechicero, with Avisman flying around a bit and getting the advantage. So to sum up again, we've got Feeling out, one-upsmanship, rudo beatdown, tecnico comeback, high flying tecnico shine.

Next is a reset to Caifan and UG and they start hitting bombs, including the goardbuster off the top, a great super bomb, and an armdrag off the top. All of these led to two counts and I would have liked them to have made use of the tag nature of the match and done some partner break-ups here instead of straight kick outs. That's my only real complaint though. After the bombs, we moved onto a lot of near-fall pin attempts by Avisman and Hechicero. We were into the finishing stretch now, the bombs starting that, and out of all the pins, Hechicero was able to lock in a rolling leg submission to take out Avisman. Caifan came in and he's worked this whole match very deliberately and just milked things in a good way. An exchange with Hechicero, worked just that way, led to a top rope rana and the pin. Guerrero came in for the final face off, which had a few near-falls, a big move or two, and ultimately, Caifan going for a desperate moonsault only to get knocked onto the top rope for the world's nastiest Guerrero Special.

There were a few rough patches, but everything felt like it was exactly where it should have been and to me, that made for a really fun match. It was just an example of what honed, meticulous lucha can be, the developed form executed by luchadores who do interesting things within it. Very fun match. Caifan is a guy who I think probably deserves more than what he has and I'd watch a Hechicero/Guerrero team any day. Fourth good match on a stacked show. I envy the people who were there live for it.

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV 8/14/15 Review

1. Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka vs. Toru Yano & Kazushi Sakuraba (9/21/14)

This kind of thing is refreshing after getting so many weeks of Okada WORKRATE EPICS it's just nice to see a couple old shooters be cocks to each other in a completely inconsequential match. I mean...I'd obviously always rather watch that than long Okada matches, but stay with me here. You watch this to see how Suzuki acts around Sakuraba, and in that regard it delivered. You had Suzuki (to the shock of nobody) pulling rank on Sak and bullying him a bit, and Sak was kinda playing the wounded child. Suzuki does bully better than just about anybody, and it all built to Sak locking on an awesome kneebar while Suzuki was tied up in the ropes, and I just loved Sak maniacally locking it on while Suzuki writhed on the apron. Nobody cares about what Yano did in this and as I type this I've already stricken most of it from my memory. I did dig the finish as Iizuka gets the claw and Yano cuts him off with a kick to the balls and a snug roll up. Afterwards Suzuki laughs and spits at the camera and does a great exaggerated Vince walk to show off how his hurt knee isn't hurt even though it's hurt.

2. Kota Ibushi & Tetsuya Naito vs. AJ Styles & Tama Tonga (9/21/14)

Dug a lot of this (well, I mean, Naito is...well you know), Ibushi is easily one of the best flippers who - like Styles did years ago - has transitioned nicely into using those spots as a heavy. Tonga is the best lackey in the Bullet Club and he really needs to be featured more instead of duds like Archer or Davey Boy. He moves really cool, bumps big and works way more stiff that guys like Karl Anderson or (obviously) Archer. Styles gets a little too hammy with the bumps here but he and Ibushi work great together and I really dig the Styles/Tonga team. Ibushi always hits his flying offense impossibly on point, and yeah, nice to see some fresh faces on this show. I don't think I can write up another Okada main event (which was why I skipped last week's show).

3. KUSHIDA vs. Ryusuke Taguchi (9/21/14)

A flawed but fun match with the strengths outweighing each guy's weaknesses. We had some issues of convenient selling and some funny build, but the overall story worked for me. I don't really love either guy's personality but something clicked for me. It's possible my White Russian is doing the clicking for me, who knows. But I got into the leg work vs. arm work aspect, loved KUSHIDA kicking the hell out of Taguchi's arm to set up the Hoverboard Lock (which really is a great looking sub) and Taguchi going after the knee to set up the ankle lock. KUSHIDA does a lot of handspring offense and he snaps off handsprings more believably than anybody else in wrestling. I'm not sure what that means, exactly. Because handspring offense is almost universally idiotic. It's like someone being the best at plunging a toilet that they clogged. Or somebody being really good at scraping the black parts off of toast that he burned because he doesn't realize that the dial on the breakroom toaster IS A TIMER. TURNING IT UP DOES NOT MAKE IT HOTTER, IT IS A FUCKING TIMER. It is a set of heated coils which stay heated for a set amount of time based on what number the dial is turned to, but this guy is really good at making his burnt bagel somewhat edible. They do some roll ups that are entirely goofy but I had fun with them, I totally bought into the Hoverboard teases and certainly thought a tap out was coming, loved moments of Taguchi scrambling for ropes, and yeah. This was fine. This was fine pro wrestling. My time did not feel wasted.

Post match and Taguchi does an interview where he keeps saying something translated as "Oh my and Garfunkel"....which is weird. Is it like when religious people avoid saying the Lord's Name so they say something like Oh My Land or Oh My Stars? Is he just being a silly goofball? He kept saying Garfunkel and it was equal parts amusing and confusing.

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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Paragon Pro Wrestling 8/22/15 Review

1. Hammerstone & Chamberlain vs. Mercurio Jr. & Ethan HD

H&C are now being called Murder By Muscle which I don't think they've been called before. The announcers are smartly and casually acting like that's always been their name. Man is this fed generous with title shots. Not really sure what Mercurio/HD did to earn a title shot, other than be a part of a fed who needs to have three title matches every episode. HD hits the cool old Erin O'Grady apron flip rana into the ring, and Chamberlain does a nice little SUWA bump off a Mercurio rana. Buuuuut this overall wasn't very good. It doesn't help the ending has some time standing still moments thanks to Mercurio. Hammerstone tries to save it the moment by just kneeing Mercurio in the balls. And I can't unsee H&C's weird matching/not matching trunks ever since Dean pointed them out.

2. Espiritu vs. Suede Thompson

This is Suede's debut and I dug him. He had a couple nice go behinds, some weird southpaw jabs, high cradles. He keeps things moving too and doesn't seem to get lost like some of these guys. Espiritu kinda stinks and is officially the worst and least subtle guy in the fed when it comes to getting into position for moves, but Suede drug this one out and made it work. I wouldn't mind seeing more of him.

3. Crash Test Cody vs. The Challenger

So, I'm not sure how good Cody is, but he's a guy I want to like. He's got a weird milky eye, looks like an old young guy, and his name is Cody. You'd think with the Crash Test moniker he would be a reckless bumper or something but you'd be a disappointed human if you thought that. Watch as he grabs a chinlock on the tubby masked Challenger. But CTC has nice running forearms and you just can't underestimate the character depth that one, weird, pigment-free milky eye brings to things. Challenger wins and will certainly challenge other challengers in the coming weeks. It's a shame his backdrop finisher is not called The Challenger Disaster*.

4. Tyshaun Prince, Caleb Konley, Kevin Kross vs. Gangrel, Gentleman Brawler Eric Right & Mikey O'Shea

This coulda been so much more, but I guess it didn't overstay its welcome. Kross is the guy I wanted to see most in the match, so naturally he didn't get any time in the ring. We're building more Tyshaun/Gangrel long term PLANS which does not excite me. Konley is a perfectly fine chest out/butt out modern indie worker and I like Right more every match I see him. He leans into things and bumps big and throws a couple nice punches. That'll get you far with me. O'Shea finally does one cool thing with his fat by doing a pensive-but-still-fat cannonball off the apron into everybody. Fat being fat is always a win.

*Feels like a joke I've used before. If so, apologies, and feel free to tinker around with some joke-in-progress where Challenger ducks a clothesline, and how together we can call it a Dodge Challenger.

Warmest Regards, Eric.

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Friday, August 28, 2015

All Japan Motherload - Rusher Kimura/Giant Baba vs. Genichiro Tenryu/Jumbo Tsuruta - AJPW 12/8/84

ER: 1984 was Kimura's weirdest year, as he worked matches in NJPW, AJPW, IWE and Stampede. He hadn't been in All Japan since 1977. A few years later he would suddenly be an old man. But here he's back in town a month and he's the meanest motherfucker in a match with Tenryu and surly Jumbo. Kimura is pissed and goes right after Tenryu, and that pisses off Jumbo who goes right after Rusher. Rusher is thick chested and mean and he goes after Tenryu's throats with open handed chops, pulling at Tenryu's perfect coif and strangling him in the ropes. By the time Rusher hits a HARD lariat on Tenryu and then picks him up at the two count you know you're seeing something special. Native stopping his own two count against another native? You thought Choshu invented that shit but it was MOTHERFUCKING Rusher Kimura! Baba keeps giving Rusher all of these disapproving looks that are all GIF-worthy, but that doesn't stop Baba from doing his greatest ever big boot, launching it right under Tenryu's chin. Jumbo is permanently pissed throughout this, wanting his piece of Rusher, and after Rusher nails Tenryu with another brutal lariat everything falls apart, ring boys come in, Goro Tsurumi comes in with a kendo stick, Baba tries to hold back Jumbo and keeps looking back at Rusher shaking his head, Rusher ends up suplexing Baba (!). Every bit of this was fucking tremendous.

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MLJ: Chilanga Mask X-Mas in August 3: Guerrero Maya, Sr. vs Guerrero Maya, Jr.

Guerrero Maya, Sr. vs Guerrero Maya, Jr.
Starts at 1:46:08

Let's get the confusing bit out of the way first. Despite what Wikipedia will tell you, GM, Jr. is not Black Terry's kid. Earlier in his career, however, he feuded with him as Multifacético and I suppose Terry took a liking to him (or money, you know, one or the other, maybe both), and introduced him as Guerrero Maya, Jr. That's worked out pretty well for the guy. Or maybe he's just a nice guy and Atlantis took a liking to him too? Who knows.

This was really good, bordering on great, because even though they aren't father and son, they wrestled the match like they were. It had a very personal animosity that ran through it in a way that a lot of bloody matches can't quite reach, an undertone that was cased in pride. In fact, were it not for a few flubs that stood out more than normal flubs and one or two really questionable layout decisions, it might be one of my favorite matches of the year. It doesn't quite hit that level, but I think it's still worth looking at.

On a show with pretty spectacular matwork, the opening stretch stood out for being different. There wasn't really anything showy in what they did, but it was intense. Jr. was wrestling like he had a chip on his shoulder, and Sr. responded in kind, wrenching limbs like he was trying to hurt his opponent, not maneuver him. There was a lot of wrenching and more fevered reversals. Jr. would get a leglock on and just punch at the knee. When he lost the hold, they ended up reset, head to head, staring. There'd be headbutts and chops here, and then a transition into Jr. taking over.

He managed this just by being more aggressive, going to kicks and mask ripping first. This is where we have some of the flubs. He tossed Sr. into the corner but had to delay and then awkwardly run in a different direction as he didn't bounce back out for the facebuster. At point he seemed, if not lost, then surprised by the direction Sr. ended up moving. It wasn't played as an old man being stubborn and struggling so much as just a momentary confusion and misfire. Other than that, though, the beat down was very gripping and brutal. They hit the floor, and then Jr. tossed Sr. over the rail into the crowd. He slammed him into a wall, used a trash can as a weapon, and tossed him into a chair. By this point, Sr.'s mask was a bloody mess and Jr. leaned into it, biting the wound in a way that you couldn't even imagine if you're just familiar with his bright and shiny throwback tecnico CMLL work.

The transition and comeback were absolutely effective and paid off the build. Jr. had celebrated with some jerks in the front row and was certainly taking his time with Sr. That led to a big moment as, when he went for a senton in the ring, Sr. got his feet up in a nasty looking spot. He started to rip Jr.'s mask but, in a moment that felt fairly unique to the match and to the "relationship" between the two, Jr. ran, delaying the comeback's gratification. It really did led to a moment that felt like a father chasing his errant kid who knew he was in big trouble, about to give him an old fashioned beating. When Sr. caught him, that's exactly what happened. He ripped at the mask, including putting his feet on Jr.'s shoulders and yanking, dragged him around by it, and got revenge spots, tossing him over the rail into the crowd and using the chairs as weapons. I like how well protected the chair shots were. They were plenty effective without guys having to kill themselves. By the point Jr. made it back to the ring, he was a bloody mess too, and this comeback segment ended with Sr. just crushing him in the corner.

That's when things got goofy. They segwayed into some armdraggy sequence with the sole goal of getting Sr. out of the ring so Jr. could hit a tope on him, equalizing the selling so that they could head towards the finish. The back half of that is okay. That's how these matches work. The front half was frustrating though. After ten minutes of bloody, personal, beatings, the last thing I want to see is some collaborative, do-si-do partner spinning. There were plenty of more organic ways to get Sr. out of the ring that would have fit not just the match, but the specific point in the match a lot better. It brought things down in my mind because it took me out of the match.

They made it back in the ring and traded some falls and moves on the way to the finish. I'm not 100% sure what they were going for with it. There was a slight ref bump, which was followed by a Jr. Cheapshot kick. It wasn't a foul, though, not anywhere close to being a foul, and I think that's what it was supposed to be due to the ref distraction and the fact that Sr., once he recovered, followed up immediately with a low blow, which the ref did see. Given the way the match had shaped up, that would have made a lot of sense if Jr. had either fouled with his kick or attempted to do so and was blocked. As it was, I didn't think it entirely worked as a finish.

This had some forgivable miscommunication early on and some far less forgivable rough patches towards the end, but everything else was great as they really captured the personal feel of the match and Maya, Jr. showed versatility I hadn't expected out of him. Another match on this stacked card well Worth seeing.

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Ring of Honor on Destination America 8/19 & 8/26/15 Review

1. Silas Young vs. Dalton Castle

Awesome little TV match, one of my very favorites since I started watching their weekly TV. Castle jumps him at the bell with headbutts and punches and it's clear right away these two just work real well together. Castle bumps big taking an awesome Jerry bump that didn't feel set up from a mile away, really felt integrated into the match nicely. He also bumps big into the railing and later takes a great tumble over the top, tackling Young. Young actually works more like an asshole here, as opposed to working like Chris Sabin...which I suppose is just working like a different kind of asshole. More backrakes, less flips. Both men move really well in there and everything was laid out great, nice build and logical progression. One of the eunuchs takes a big bump, and postmatch Young wants a stip added to a future match where HE gets possession of the eunuchs if he wins. I love it. Castle kept taunting him with flamboyance and it drives Young mad with seething passion. Him demanding the eunuchs is so obvious. He's accepting a dare that nobody at all was daring him to do. "Okay guys, FINE, I'll take the eunuchs." It's like Lindsey Graham saying he'd spend a night in a rest stop men's room if he wins any primaries. Nobody else is asking him to do it, clearly just a guy offering to do it. Silas Young's character makes so much more sense if you think of him as a closeted gay man.

2. Will Ferrara vs. Moose

They do the tale of the tape and Kevin Kelly actually says "No mention of heart, though". Ugh. This is the best I've seen Moose look, so this accomplished what it set out to do. He's still kinda sloppy and still seems lost, but the offense he chose to do worked, and he did neat things like take a spike tornado DDT on the floor. Plus the all white gear looked brilliant.

2. Young Bucks vs. RPG Vice

***NOTE: I'm not sure what happened to my write-up of this match. It got gone. It once was, but no longer is. Long story short, did not love it. Rocky Romero is horrible. Romero working schtick is unbearable. Bucks had a couple nice cut off moments, notably cutting off Trent during his apron ass hattery. Match went too long, Bucks weren't as violent and twerpish as they can be.


1. Bloodbound Warriors (Grey Wolf & Red Scorpion) vs. Briscoes

Never seen Bloodbound Warriors before, but they appear to be shortish God of War or Warhammer cosplayers, and they've clearly committed to it and instead of making gay-intensive Vines they've focused it into pro wrestling. GREY Wolf is covered almost entirely in RED body paint, which is confusing. He's also not very good. Mainly he staggers around selling for Jay, so it's not like he got to do a whole lot, but his staggering wasn't very good. Scorpion has a big HGH belly and was much better. He had a couple nice press slams and I like a good press slam. Mark took a head first press slam over the top off the apron, takes a wild bump into the railing, and later got flipped over the buckles to the floor. Mark was a maniac in this. Jay hits a wild tope on Wolf, both guys kick the hell out of Scorpion (with Mark hitting a huge pump elbow off the top and Scorpion getting dumped on the back of his head with a clothesline). This was really fun. I'd actually like to see BW back, just because they seem a bit different from some of the ultra super serious workers we usually see.

2. Donovan Dijak vs. Roderick Strong

This worked! Checking my pre-match predictions, and yep, I was in the "this won't work" camp. But it worked. Dijak has a ways to go, his "reeling" especially looks horrible. And since this match had plenty of strike exchanges it also had plenty of him reeling and just...looking stupid while waiting to be hit. He can break out some impressive fast sequences (his 360 pump kick looked killer) but doesn't have any of the little things yet. He could get there. Roddy has had a great year and looked good here. He smartly built the match up to some good nearfalls that tricked me. Truth actually had some of the only good stuff I've seen from him. There was a really nicely timed spot where Roddy jumps over potential Truth interference while on the apron, and then Dijak belts him. The timing in this was spot-on throughout. Really solid stuff. Dijak just needs to figure out what the hell to do with his body and face while waiting to be hit.

3. Future Shock (Adam Cole & Kyle O'Reilly) vs. Addiction

Frankie Kazarian's vest is ridiculous. It's trying soooooooooo HARD you guys. It's like he went into Spencer's Gifts and bought every single patch they had, then ironed them onto his vest in a super organized fashion. They run the full gamut of "bands who are well known enough to sell patches at the mall", so he's got the Rolling Stones on his shoulder and The Beatles on his back and Led Zeppelin on his side. Hey, man. I'm a man. A man with a vest. I am definitely a man who has patches of bands that every human listens to. So many inches of vest are filled up with these personality-free patches, all of them placed on the vest as properly as possible. It is truly a vest that was workshopped by moms. It might as well be one of my mom's old appliqué holiday vests, like the Christmas one with felt gingerbread men and candy canes. It's that awful. Except my mom loved her holiday vests. She had all of autumn and winter covered: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas. They spoke to her personality and she would still be wearing them today if that damn Stacy and Clinton didn't constantly put them down on What Not to Wear. They've ruined the vests for her. Frankie Kazarian's vest tells me nothing about him, except that he has zero personal taste of his own. His vest looks like it was decorated by a 45 year old man who is in charge of decorating teen bedrooms on sitcoms. "Looks like that back wall could use another rock & roll poster, Gary."

And the announcer calls The Addiction the "World Tag Team Champions of the World". Why is this a thing? I'm pretty sure Corino called them this a couple weeks ago. The Ring of Honor Pro Wrestling Champions of the World of Ring of Honor Pro Wrestling.

And this match bleeeeeewwwwwww. For a guy who is known for his cold, bland, robotic execution, Daniels sure does execute a lot of things horribly. He's like one of those replicants from the show Humans who is at the end of his shelf life, so the muscle memory is there, he's just really horrible at doing all of his programmed commands and sometimes ends up lost in the forest, his A.I. caught on a low hanging branch. Here we get really awful thigh slaps, overshot moonsaults, clunkily moving into position for offense, all really bad. He did a slow tortured walk to try and catch O'Reilly on the ropes that was the just the worst community theater Frankenstein's Monster walk you've seen. At one point Cole/O'Reilly do a shitty legsweep/clothesline combo on Daniels and no physical connection is made by anybody. So you have three bodies all moving to their own beat, with Cole whiffing a legsweep, O'Reilly whiffing a clothesline and Daniels back bumping to nothing. If one segment could tell the story of the match.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Lucha Underground Episode 39: UltimaLucha - Part II Review

Tomk joins us again for the season (and hopefully not the series) finale.

ER: I hadn't thought about who would be replacing Vampire since he'd be wrestling tonight, but my heart dropped when I saw Schiavello sitting there. He's a guy who I think can be decent but gets too blustery, wrapped up in shoehorning his awful catchphrases, and never builds to anything because from the beginning bell he's already screaming at 10. He comes off like a horrible Hawk Harrelson type.
TKG: This was first time listening to English language commentary and yikes, I’m sticking with Hugo. I did eventually re-watch the show with Hugo commentary and they should just really have Hugo comment the shows and then use some sort of translation bot for the English version. Hugo did an exceptional job calling Mundo v Alberto which was a real old school match and plays to him being knowledgeable about that type of match and match strategies. He really got over the Alberto blindness and how that would allow Mundo to do stick and run offense and meant that Alberto had to work more close range stuff, did a bit on how the potential of a tweaked leg would effect Alberto’s work and another bit on how a weakened arm might effect Mundo’s strategy. I don’t know if this reflected any of the actual in ring work but it made the details of work seem important, like you should pay attention to nuance that may not actually be there. Also Hugo understood the whole old school psychology of face spanking heel girl. Matt Striker called that spot like a guy raised on ECW. Hugo understood the Dusty trope where spanking a woman is understood as being an appeal to audience not to engage in domestic violence. Even if a woman slaps a man multiple times, a true man should never strike a woman…a “gentleman” knows to spank her instead. Hugo tearfully pointed to Dusty in the sky and said that Alberto spanked Melina like a “caballero”.
1. Johnny Mundo vs. Alberto El Patron 
ER: I really liked most of this match, but the ending was a pretty loud fart noise. I don't think anybody wanted the return of Melina, and he's never able to hit The End of the World very well. He always lands really hard on his hip while his shoulder sort of grazes his opponent. So Melina with a weak belt shot combined with finishing on the least impactful move of the match, made for a pretty sour note. Still the first 90% of this was really good, with both guys taking turns getting tossed into railings and tables, Mundo tightening up his punches more than normal, AeP trying to rip Mundo's arm off, AeP getting dirt thrown in his eyes, tons of fun stuff. After the horrible finish we at least get more of Mundo getting tossed violently through things, with a nasty spill through chairs and then the payback revenge shot through a window. Melina was terrible throughout as Mundo bumps through chairs and she screams "No! Nooooooooo!" through tears, as if Mundo hadn't just been taking nasty bumps like that over the previous 20 minutes. Then we get that played out wrestling spot of a man spanking a naughty misbehaving woman, and Striker ups the ick factor with "I'm gonna rewind THAT on my DVR I can't TELL you how many times!" Yeesh. Coulda cleaned that one up in post.
PAS: I thought the handful of dirt as Mr. Fuji's salt was pretty great. I thought all of the wrestling exchanges in this were pretty good, feels like the kind of thing which would steal a WWE PPV if they were given some time. I didn't care for Mundo as a face in this fed but he has been pretty strong as a heel. Thought it was weird for Patron to immediately get his comeuppance after losing, felt like that could have been saved for a hypothetical next season. Also not sure why Mundo is squirting blood like that right before your garbage match.
TKG: I really dug this. I’m so used to current generation of workers only knowing how to do heel runs from face WWFSNME style, that really cool seeing these guys do more of a Memphis thing which less about face giving chase and more about face standing off semi amused but wanting to get things started. The whole use of blindness to set up heel run and the slow recovery from that blindness, also felt super Mempho. I think I accepted flimsy chain being sold as death as being Memphisy too. I have positive feelings about Melina as being useful. I’ve seen Melina enough times live where she seemed to have real sense of when match had crowd and when was losing crowd that she knew when to lay back and when to egg on fans. I’ve also seen her Puerto Rican role as second to Davey Richards where she was kind of an Albano style manager who did both the mic work and the actual emoting for worker who couldn’t do either. That said, Mundo isn’t a Wild Samoan or Davey Richards, he needs a more Grand Wizard/JJ Dillon type second and not sure if Melina is up to that.

2. Pentagon Jr. vs. Vampiro
ER: Vampire looks exactly like the fat bald bloated zombie on the boat, from the opening scene of Zombi 2. I assume that just shows Vampiro's loyalty and dedication to being on the El Rey network. I thought this was awesome, blew away all expectations for it. I'm not going to get into the Master reveal because really I don't care, because the match itself delivered for me in ways I wasn't expecting. This was a nasty violent W*ing brawl and Vampiro as immobile gorehound worked great opposite the vicious Pentagon. All the garbage spots built nicely, the spills into tacks and light tube remains were nasty, Pentagon punching Vampiro in the side of his bloody head was a helluva visual, and Pentagon did other neat things like just ignore Vamp's punches that whiffed. Pentagon gushing blood through his torn mask was crazy (maybe not as crazy as Striker ranking Vamp ahead of Terry Funk in terms of brawling. His comparison to Abdullah was at least physically accurate), and then the flaming table spot with Vamp on fire for way too long while the extinguisher guy was way out of position, just a nutso appropriate finish.
PAS: Pretty shocked that they would go full IWA KOTDM on TV like this, I like Vampiro theoretically but I have never enjoyed him in ring, and the fact he is willing to take this level of beating after multiple neck surgeries is pretty nutty. I would have liked to see this be the only brawl on this show, but if you are going to take it to the next level this is how you do it. Add Vampiro to Cage, Mack and Hernandez to guys who had career performances on this show
TKG: I don’t understand people’s confusion or surprise about the finish. I think I texted Phil several weeks earlier predicting that Vampiro was Pentagon Jr’s master, it seemed obvious to me. I’ve watched a lot of Kevin Sullivan/Raven/Who is higher power wrestling angles, this is how those end. I’ve watched plenty of Golan-Globus action movies, this is how those end. My wife watches the Steven Moffatt Dr Who episodes, this is how those end. It seemed obvious that they were doing the master makes student bring the monster back out of the domesticated master in order to beat the master at his most monstrous. I’ve always thought of Vampiro as second rate Chris Champion and whole angle probably makes a lot more sense if you think of it as Yoshi Kwan forcing student to transform Kwan back into Sinn. Champion also has time travel experience which would maybe add more depth to child is the father of the man stuff.  Vampiro coming out looking that bloated also screamed  “this match is setting up Vampiro with Penagon Jr v Vampiro’s evil twin Pogo the Clown with The Altar Boy in a no-rope Caribbean spider-web tag-match on some California XPW tribute indy”, so of course they were coming out as partners.
3. Aerostar vs. Fenix vs. Big Ryck vs. Jack Evans vs. King Cuerno vs. Bengala vs. Sexy Star
ER: Plenty of fun spots in this one, and I didn't have to flip out over Sexy Star winning. I really would have bet on her winning this thing. She looked predictably terrible here, but she wasn't in tons so it wasn't much of an issue. But that does highlight the main problem of the match, which was almost immediately they went to 5 people disappearing all at once, while two people work in the ring. That means at some times you had people selling on the floor for 5+ consecutive minutes, which is just ludicrous. I know a lot of it won't be captured on camera, but at least brawl around the floor. So there was a lot of stupidity wrapped around having 7 people crammed into something essentially worked as a singles match. But a lot of the spots worked and overall that's what counts. Evans took a couple of bumps to the floor, Aerostar hit his enormous cliff dive splash onto everybody, Cuerno just annihilated Bengala with his tope, Ryck crushes Sexy Star with a urunage (not long after taking one of the uglier and improbable ranas from her), and yeah this delivered about what I was expecting. They could have had more false finishes but they decided early that they were mostly gonna have 5 people selling around the ring and less dramatic saves, but whatever.
PAS: Some big spots here but didn't flow as well as some of their better multi man matches, I think 7 guys is just too many, and Sexy Star is the poops. Also Fenix, Aeorstar and Bengala all fill the same role in a match like this,there is a certain number of spots for your face high flyer and having three of them in the same match makes it hard for any one of them to stand out.
TKG: I guess this was fine Xdivision/WWA cruiserweight multi-person clusterfuck. I think it was hurt by them working little guys v Andre structure with Big Ryck instead of working any face/heel structure. And for the most part you had heel King Cuerno matched up with heel Evans, face Bengala matched w face Sexy Star, and face Aerostar matched with face Fenix. It felt like it weakened everyone’s character.

4. Texano vs. Blue Demon Jr. (No DQ)
ER: "Everything you've ever known about lucha libre comes from this guy", Matt Striker, when talking about Blue Demon. Yeesh, what fucking lucha do you watch, Striker? Well, at least all of this was kept short. This had some pretty weak weapons shots considering what we saw earlier in the night. Nothing in this was memorable or interesting.
PAS: Blue Demon is the wrong guy for this role, Santo would have been awesome as a the delusional lucha legend who refuses to believe his time is past, Universo 2000 would have worked, or hell use a Villano. Demon just can't deliver anything in the ring, and can't pull off this match. Still I do like Chavo and the idea of lucha families joining, just wish it was Chavo uniting with Brazo De Oro.
TKG: So I guess if I want to say the first match was Memphis tribute, second W*NG tribute, third WWA tribute, then this was an attempt to do an Antonio Peña AAA one. Maybe that’s the genius of Peña, it’s not so easy to do a watchable “overbooked immobile old guy v semi mobile roided out youngster with a couple of hungry local indy guys doing interference & bumps” match. Or maybe it’s just that Blue Demon sucks. Weren’t the guys from Lucha Libre USA involved in this thing? They used Tinieblas Jr as a fun chickenshit heel. Tinieblas Jr  would’ve also been perfect in this role and I imagine would not cost much.
5. Mil Muertes vs. Prince Puma

ER: Awesome match, easily the best non-gimmick singles match in the promotion's history. If they end up never coming back for a second season they will have at least gone out with a bang. Both guys brought out the big guns and hit some pretty spectacular stuff. Puma was nuts in this, taking so many of Muertes' things right on the side of his face, crashing spectacularly on the missed dive into a chairshot, blasting through rows of chairs, but then also hitting all sorts of quirky kicks from impossible angles, and at one point managing to deadlift Muertes up into a big suplex. A real pull out all stops performance from Puma. Muertes leaned face first into everything, hit a couple wicked powerslams, delivered one of the best spears you'll see, really played off Puma nicely. This was just a real high end main event that really did feel like a big deal. Great way to go out on Season 1.
PAS: Yeah this was what you would hope a clash of the titans main event would be. Both guys were kept super strong and Puma dies in this match, if he was going to lose his belt he was going to go down hard. I am not sure about Puma throwing suplexes when he is working monsters, but that deadlift was nutty strength so I bought it. Muertes might be top five wrestler for 2015, would hope Mesias will do something cool in AAA if we don't get a season 2 this year.
TKG: LuchaUndergound has kind of quietly found a way to make their title matches feel like a big deal. They’re not “lucha title” matches, these are matches filled with outside brawling. It’s also a fed where every match has outside brawling, so they can’t do the easy WWF move of having irish whip into steps be a way to make title match feel more important than undercard. But they manage to make the title match feel like it’s a different thing than rest of card. This is a card where lots of matches were about the violence, Alberto trying to get revenge and hurt/humiliate Mundo, the “cero Miedo” match was about the violence. The title match wasn’t personal, felt like it was about winning the title. Match with three sections. You had early floor brawling section with the idea that Muertes is more dominant on the floor and then the in ring section where Puma is the more dominant, and the post table spot section where Muertes better able to hold his own in ring. I liked all three sections and the face/heel as well as big/ little stuff that they were able to pull off in all of them. Also liked how the sections were connected/flowed together. Often with matches with clear sections you can make up fake falls in your head, ie “this is mat section, this is where mat section now over, this is the section where they’re working a body part and now that’s stopped”. That wasn’t the case here, really some of the cooler stuff in the match was the way they transitioning from one section to the next. I really liked the big table spot being used as a NOAH dome show title match apron spot instead of as a finish. I don’t think ever seen that done before.  It’s a match I’ve now watched several times and enjoyed a little bit more each time. And while yes it is a real satisfying match for a promotion to end with, this was a wrestling supercard that really felt like it built up a bunch of strong faces to challenge new heel title holder. Muertes has to give Puma a rematch, has to give Drago a title shot, Fenix has the one win over him and the gift of the Gods, Alberto is done with Mundo, and of course what happens when the Mil Muertes the king of death meets the man with zero fear. It was a satisfying ending and teased a neat new season.
ER: Final video package was really good, although earlier Dario unlocked Matanza so casually that I'm wondering what suddenly made him rush and scramble away. I love the little coda it gave to all the major players.
TKG: I loved Fenix driving off in his Pontiac Firebird. Immediately wanted buy the whole set of non-existent Lucha Underground Matchbox toys  and then to take son to local hobby store and ask him if he wants to work with me on the non-existent” Drago Dragster” or the non-existent “Mil Muertes Hearse”  Kustom Model Car Kits.   Or more likely buy the hobby kits first, get frustrated with glue and tiny parts and then buy the matchbox ones to make up for it.
PAS: I liked the finishing video package too, although I think the entire Matanza, Dragon Azteca, Black Lotus stuff is super dumb. Cueto is a fun enough actor to mitigate it a bit, but the whole thing is super corny, Black Lotus is sub-porn acting level and the angle makes no sense if you think about it for more then a second.

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MLJ: Chilanga Mask X-Mas in August 2: Trauma II vs Blue Panther

2015-08-16 @ Arena Naucalpan
Trauma II vs Blue Panther

Starts at 1:28:22

We've been lucky over the last few years to have all of the BT Jr. captured lucha. The Traumas have been a big part of the footage and it's on me and my watching habits that I just haven't seen more of them. They're Negro Navarro's kids, as I'm sure most people reading this know. I just haven't gotten around to seeing a ton of them as of yet. I will rectify that at some point. They have a lot of stuff with their dad out there, and I'm seeing a trios right now of Cerebro/Traumas vs Virus/Tiger/Puma that I need to watch, etc. There's a lot out there.

Short answer on this one is that it would have come off better if it didn't have to follow Virus vs Cerebro, but the finish here was better. I think the match itself, wasn't, and a lot of that was in the matwork. It's not that what they did was bad. It absolutely wasn't. I'm just not sure it compared. They were going for high level, complex stuff, and it fell into the sorts of traps that the Virus match avoided: there were moments where limbs were given over too freely, or even for no discernible reason. There were times where Trauma would lock in a hold and I didn't really have a great sense what he was going for or how it'd work. Sometimes it just looked like a mess of limbs. There were times where Trauma especially fumbled a bit going for a hold or that Panther would lack a bit of zing in snapping one on; these are the sort of things I'd have forgiven if I hadn't just seen Virus vs Cerebro, I think.

That's not to say there weren't flashes of brilliance, both little and big. I liked how Trauma went for the same move that ended the Virus match, that sort of lifting scorpion deathlock but it was too early into the match and he couldn't hook it. There was a great moment early on where Panther was trying to step on the back of Trauma's leg to get out of a hold by shifting the leverage, but it didn't work so he shot a quick chop there to do it. Just a tiny detail that really stood out. There was a great Tapitia war, including Trauma ALMOST hooking one in using a method I'd never seen before. Some of his holds and escapes were really good and they definitely had the crowd. I just thought the match had more than its share of dubious moments too.

As I said, I did like the finish better. At first, I had gotten worried since they made some distance and did a dive, much like the other match. I thought they were going to do exactly the same thing for a moment. Instead they stretched out a few signature holds to really amp up the drama with Panther ultimately winning the match by sticking to his own move instead of trying to steal Trauma's (after Trauma showed something of a lack of maturity by doing the opposite). It was a good match but I think it paled to what Virus and Cerebro accomplished just a few minutes previous.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

All Japan Motherload - Stan Hansen/Crusher Blackwell vs. Terry Funk/Giant Baba - AJPW 9/8/82

ER: Can you think of a more badass team that you don't think about as an actual team? Hansen and Blackwell, just chomping and stamping everything in sight. Blackwell knows how to take Baba offense really well, and I loved Baba's double chops to his throat. Hansen was an as-expected beast in this. He's the guy who always took it to Baba more than anyone, and I always loved the dynamic between them. So you have one of my all time favorite match-ups in Hansen/Funk, a great dynamic in Hansen/Baba, and the wildcard being a big bumping fatso with great right hands. Yes please. One of the great things Hansen does is charge somebody when they tag in. Baba tags in, Hansen starts bearing the shit out of him as he's still in the ropes. Hansen always does this and seeing it always reminds me that every other tag wrestler is a tentative pussy. Hansen and Finlay are the guys who never let guys rest on their laurels in a match, always keep active and always keeps things moving. God if they had ever crossed paths. I love Hansen constantly bringing it to Funk/Baba, but Hansen - like Finlay - is also always super generous if you play along. You take his shit, he'll make your shit look world beating (even though Funk doesn't really need that help). Hansen leans into Baba's big boot, staggers around all over for Funk's flawless jabs, Blackwell flies over the top to the floor to put over Baba's throw strength, ring boys run in at the end to eat right hands (and with their short slicked down parted hair and tank tops/short shorts they all look like little Jerry Lucases) and this was just the best kind of 10 minutes.

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Monday, August 24, 2015

MLJ: Chilanga Mask X-Mas in August 1: Virus vs Dr. Cerebro

2015-8-16 @ Arena Naucalpan
Virus vs Dr. Cerebro

(match starts at 27:20)

Negro Casas is my favorite active luchador. To me, the most exciting are Cavernario and Rush. The best, though? It has to be Virus. He's amazing at everything he tries to do, seasoned and experienced but dynamic as well. He's hugely versatile, able to perpetrate a brutal rudo beatdown, have a fast-paced lightning match, or most especially hit the mat with meaningful, logical matwork full of twists and turns you've never seen. Part of that range is necessary considering the main CMLL audiences only have so much patience for long and complex mat seqeuences. That's why it's great we get to see him on the indies where he can really stretch out (and stretch people) too.

Sunday, August 23, was an exciting day for pro wrestling and it had absolutely nothing to do with a WWE PPV booked by someone doing an impression of CMLL's drunk and apathetic booking monkeys. It's because Chilanga Mask graciously posted the entirety of their Arena Naucalpan show from August 16. Usually with a lucha indy show, you have one or two matches that look good on paper and a bunch of noise. This has FOUR. I'm going to go through them in order and check in afterwards. Knowing Phil and Eric they'll probably chime in at some point as well.

The second match on the card was Virus vs Dr. Cerebro. Cerebro is someone I feel like we heard about more in the last decade than we do in this one. He's also someone I want to go back and see more of after seeing this match. The short verdict here was that this had absolutely amazing matwork that was layered and nuanced and never felt gratuitous but that I wish the ramp up to the finish had a bit more meat. That could have been a side effect of being second on a very stacked card however.

I'm not going to mention too many specifics because I want people to see and enjoy this on their own, but I think it was the use of leverage that I enjoyed the most. Both luchadores constantly were using their feet to jockey for position, to press down upon a knee to bring his opponent, or to move a leg just out of place to break a hold. Or maybe it was the snappiness. One complaint about maestro-style matches (and that means different things to different people) is that they're often done at half the speed that the people wrestling were once able to hit. Maybe it's because these two are in their forties and not fifties but there was a real zing to things. Both of them utilized quick wraparounds with their legs that were just lightning fast.

Maybe it was just the little things. I loved how Virus would go back to the front facelock anytime he needed a breather or to just contain Cerebro for a moment before going to the next move. Then there were the resets. The first one was something of an even exchange out of a knucklelock. The next time, Virus immediately twisted the arm instead of going in equal, and then the one after that had Cerebro returning the favor. They cycled from one hold to a next, grabbing open limbs, trying and failing holds before they were able to get their positioning just right, and selling emotively both while in holds and while executing them.

There was a sense of escalation and increasing competitiveness and emotion, and things picked up at the end with whips, move attempts, and and a tope before they went home, but the match needed another few minutes in the end there (relative to something like the Avisman vs Virus I watched a few weeks ago, even if the matwork here was superior to that), and I think was a victim, in part, of its card placement. Ultimately, though, it's something everyone should see because what they were able to give us was just that good.

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

All Japan Motherload - Abby

Abdullah the Butcher/Tor Kamata vs. The Sheik/Great Mephisto - AJPW 12/11/80

ER: And you thought this would just be a bunch of guys with bad bodies wandering around, bleeding, hitting each other with spikes, and wandering around some more!! Well, you'd be correct. Great Mephisto is terrible, whiffs on punches and is clearly afraid to bump. How'd he get a ticket to Japan during 1980!? Really feels like a guy who won a sweepstakes. Tor Kamata bleeds and is the only one who really bumps, and Sheik often brings out the worst in Abby. Still, they put on a spectacle and throughout some of this it worked. The beginning especially worked, with streamers still in the ring and people starting to bleed. But I guess these things always start out the best, but don't really have much of a place to go. This really could have been four local bad body indy never weres having this fight in any indy that takes place in a bar. The fact this happened in Tokyo probably does make it more intriguing...

Abdullah the Butcher vs. Dory Funk Jr. - Maple Leaf Wrestling 6/29/80

ER: Not technically from All Japan but it must have been shown on Classics. I wonder how Toronto fans felt about 5 minute main events ending in count outs. I guess they were used to them with Sheik at this point, so it was likely expected. They built a fairly smart and logical short match, with Dory not taking Abby off his feet but instead taking over after a big Abby missed elbow drop. Best part of the match was after they had already been counted out and they're fighting on the rampway, Abby doesn't realize he's close to the edge and almost falls off while taking a Dory elbow. After that it's like he sensed how excited the arena got to see him potentially splat off the ramp so spent the next minute teasing like he was going to fall off while Dory elbowed him. There was actually real drama in there as especially that first time (where it genuinely didn't seem like he realized how close he was) I actually wondered if Abby was gonna fall off the ramp.

Terry Funk vs. Abdullah the Butcher - AJPW 7/15/78

ER: So the quality isn't great on this but it takes me back to my days of tape trading where you'd get a 13th gen copy of a Sabu comp and never even consider that these matches exist in better quality. Here the quality is bad enough that Funk and Abby look animated, like we're seeing the bloodiest version of the Beastie Boys' "Shadrach" video. But whatever, this is Abby stabbing Funk with a spike, both men gushing blood, and Funk punching Abby right in his cut. And you know that nobody puts over Abby's spike like Funk. Funk always knows the best way to stumble around, the best way to grab at his chest after it gets stabbed, the best way to grab Higuchi by the collar and tell him to do his job, the best way to go nuts after being pushed too far. Funk - as you may know - understands how to brawl to comeback and Abby knows how to make men bleed, and it rules.

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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Paragon Pro Wrestling 8/15/15 Review

Magical Flames Rainbow Logs sure are a weird product. There are several commercials for them throughout an episode of Paragon, and I love the marketing. The first shot of the commercial is a couple about to fuck in front of a fireplace. They both start out of screen and then almost sit up into each other, man sitting up on the left, woman on the right, sitting up into view, sitting up into a kiss that gets cut off far too soon. You can only imagine what's happening underneath the camera, their legs entangled in some sort of epic kama sutra scissor, bodies entwined, pleasure soaring, the woman thinking "Not only am I 43 and having the best sex of my life, but the rainbow colors coming out of this guy's fireplace wood are fucking hypnotic."

I think a dad in the front row is wearing a shirt that says "Bear Jew".

1. "The Gentleman Brawler" Eric Right vs. Darin Corbin

You know we were gonna get some title matches on this show, and you KNOW you gotta get behind an AMERICAN CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH. Sorry, Mexicans! Man Corbin doesn't even get to hold this for one defense. After Corbin's loving promo to his American Championship last week I feel bad it's already in the hands of another man. That, slutty, slutty American Championship. Match wasn't much. I was kinda plagued by Right already doing death selling just a couple minutes into the match. Right throws decent punches and I like his sleeper. Corbin's cartoonish bumping kinda works for this fed. And somehow the sleeper hold is an illegal move in Paragon so the decision gets reversed and Corbin is still AMERICAN CHAMPION. Illegal sleeper? That's...weird. And also dumb.

2. Greg Romero vs. Azul Angel

Nothing timelier than a Grease gimmick in 2015. This is the TV debut of each guy. I was digging it until it ended with interference 2 minutes in. Azul had a couple cool things like catching a Romero punch in a t-shirt and armdragging him by it. It had a cool Finlay feel to it. Azul did throw some wimpy Mil Mascaras chop blocks and a silly backcracker, though. Romero has not been told that no human beings have sideburns anymore. When was the last time you remember seeing sideburns on anybody?

3. Joey Ryan vs. Gangrel

Gangrel comes out to a hip hop remix of his old WWE theme. It...kind of works. And this match also kind of works. It was worked faster than I anticipated, although Gangrel appears to work sloppier the faster he works. I get it. The math on that adds up. Gangrel still took an okay bump to the floor, threw out his nice corkscrew elbow drop, and matched Ryan's pace. Ryan tossed out a nice short arm clothesline and solid headbutt counter. We end in a DQ. Nothing is solved. We are all nothing.

4. The Shadow vs. Sugar Brown

Sugar Brown comes out in a baller letterman jacket with gold sleeves and "Mr. Kayo" on the back. The Shadow is some goober in all black under a black mask and comes out to the theme from Halloween. The announcers talk about his eerieness and how uneasy he makes them, but how eerie can a man in cargo pants really be? That is like calling a man in ankle socks "mysterious". And Sugar gets the motherfucking SQUASH WIN and I love it. Brown breaks out his completely awesome 360 corner clothesline and Shadow does a nice knee wobble after Brown's Kayo Blow. Fuck yeah. 'Bout time Brown picks up a win. Straight to the top baybay!

The announcer loves to add "Uhs" to proper names. He always says Paragon Pro Wres-uh-ling. Or Caleb Kon-uh-ley. I heard it once and now notice it constantly.

5. Caleb Konley vs. Wes Brisco vs. Jessy Sorensen

I will give the fed some credit, they always keep me guessing as to who's going to come away with a title. I would not have guessed Konley winning the title here and Konley is clearly the best of these three, so I support this. The match was pretty pointless as it barely goes 5 minutes, 3 way spots always look goofy (they did one of those superplex/powerbomb spots and this one was extra gross as Brisco was the one doing the powerbomb portion so you had him and his gross legs just burying that face in CROTCH) and nobody could possibly like triple threat matches anymore. Without thinking too hard about it, if I could eliminate one thing from modern wrestling it would be triple threat matches. I've seen more indy matches get fucked up because of triple threat matches. Bring in a big name? Let's have him give the rub to TWO of your guys by setting up a three way! They just can't help themselves. PLEASE just ban the triple threat.

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Friday, August 21, 2015

All Japan Motherload - Gino Hernandez vs. Mil Mascaras - AJPW 8/20/81

ER: Well this rules. Mil Mascaras gets mobbed like nobody I've seen mobbed in pro wrestling. He's barely even able to walk to the ring, instead getting forced around by momentum of the throng of potential lovers who swarm him. Fans always try and sneak touches of Hansen or the Funks, but here they just charge Mascaras like they want his clothing/seed. Meanwhile Gino waits in the ring in snug red bathrobe and giant sunglasses, looking like a guy on Miami Vice who dies in a boat explosion. And the match itself is awesome. Gino hits a weird hardway gutbuster, they do some pretty armdrags and floating headlock takedowns, all of Mil's surfboards look really nasty, Gino takes some big bumps on a mat that doesn't give in the least, and then misses a gigantic top rope elbow over halfway across the ring. Everybody knew Mil was winning but Mil was oddly aggressive during this, and at one point as the fans start screaming for Mil, Gino flashes all sorts of early charisma and starpower by shouting them all down. Loved this.

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MLJ: Emilio Charles Spotlight 1: Emilio Charles Jr. vs La Fiera [mano a mano]

1994-04-01 @ Arena México
Emilio Charles Jr. vs La Fiera

I will get back to Dragon Lee soon, but I wanted to take some time to linger on some older stuff. I'm ever trying to fill in the gaps in my knowledge and of my watching (which are near-infinite) and for now I've settled on Emilio Charles, Jr. My early indications of him, from what I've seen in passing, have him as very good and very versatile. He's someone with a relatively long career, much (but not all; more on that later) of which we have on tape and a good amount online. I like doing chronological looks but I'm not sure that's the way to go here due to spottiness. So instead I'm going to pick another wrestler and do interactions, sometimes in specific feuds, sometimes not. I'm going to do a couple of matches with Fiera here, and then, in order to round out next week, do a couple of matches of him tagging with Fiera against Hijo del Santo.

Why Fiera? Well, because I came across this mano a mano match and it's pretty awesome, that's why. I think the footage we have of Fiera can be fairly hit or miss, but one thing that he could do extremely well was build up the tension on his comeback after taking a big beating. That skill is one of my favorite things in the world. He did it in the Negro Casas hair match and he did it here as well.

It was a monumental beating too. Charles, with his amazing music, came down first. Fiera (whose promo picture was hairless, probably taken after the Casas match actually) stormed down to the ring, ready to go but immediately got ambushed anyway. Charles was very good at spacing things out and making things matter. He'd beat on Fiera a bit, play to the crowd, come back in. Very methodological in the best way. Here he was moving Fiera around the ring, slamming his head into the corners, punching, stomping, and then gloriously slamming his head into the wooden apron cover. He brought him to the post outside and I think that's where the initial blading happened because after one huge back body drop back in the ring, he started working the forehead a little, biting the head.

Fiera'd fight back here, but only once or twice. There was the mild tinge of a heel ref that brings everything down just a tiny bit, but only a tiny bit. It delays and distracts Fiera on his comebacks but it just FELT too early for him to come back. Anyway, Charles finished off the primera with another massively high back body drop, a crushing senton, and a submission. That didn't end the beating though. At the start of the segunda, he chucked Fiera into the stands, keeping him there and beating on him any time he tried to get up. It was pretty grisly. Fiera would keep trying to recover but Charles would roll in, celebrate, and roll out to attack before he could. By now, Fiera was bleeding pretty thoroughly, to the point that when Charles went to bite again, blood ended up all over his face.

As I said, Fiera was good at gradually coming back. It started with him walking around the ring. Yes he got cut off but he was drawing in his strength. This happened a couple of times. Then, in the ring, he was able to get his hands up and walk it off a bit, only to get distracted by the ref and cut off again. Finally, as Charles got just a bit too complacent, he hit his signature spin kick. Even then, Charles fought back and it took another reversal of a whip and a revenge back body drop and then, after leapfrogging out of Charles' way, one of the best superkicks I've ever seen to drop him and pick up the fall.

The tercera is more back and forth. Fiera gets in a revenge posting that opens Charles up and a shot of his own onto that wooden ring apron enclosure as Charles tried to crawl out of the ring. I love revenge spots in bloody lucha matches. I really do. He held the advantage until he missed a diving headbutt. Charles was a bloody mess now but holds the advantage, in part, by ducking a spin kick in the corner and launching his foot up for a near foul. Ultimately, though, he missed a senton (the same sort that set up his win in the primera; I love callbacks too), which let Fiera get in one last flurry of great fist-drops to Charles' wounded head. The finish was a little lackluster, a cross body block rolled over by Fiera and a pin that didn't look quite right, but that's okay. This was to set up a hair match later in the month. It did everything it had to in that regard.

Which brings us to the hair match. Has anyone seen this? Cubs has it as 4/25/94. As best as I can tell, it was the same night that the Grand Prix tournament was filmed that year and that made tape but I've seen no sign of anyone seeing the apuestas match. Anyone? What we do have is the trios match the following week, which is fun because it doesn't just encompass this feud, but the Cota vs Casas one as well.

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Lucha Underground Episode 38: UltimaLucha - Part I Review

We get a return engagement from Tomk for this final pair of episodes

1. The Mack vs. Cage (Falls Count Anywhere)

ER: Well this was awesome and completely exceeded the high expectations I had for it. These guys laced into each other and it's as if every move they did was the exact move the crowd was hoping for. This would have been good in a vacuum but it was even better because they both clearly understood who they were working for. They worked in a little comedy and personality, but never lost the viciousness. The brawling through the crowd was some of the best of its kind, punching and throwing each other into spots instead of walking gingerly together. Fans scrambling out of the way added to the insanity. Cage getting speared through a door was totally unexpected and Cage took it like a lunatic, almost like he wasn't expecting it either. The way the camera shot it, and how fast he flew back through the door, it was like he was being sucked out of an airplane at 30,000 feet. All of the bumps and spills on the floor were nasty, and then Cage goes and does an inside out superplex over the guardrail onto the balcony. Jeez. I was hoping they wouldn't go the cinderblock route when I noticed them, since I thought Ambrose/Rollins already pulled off the best worked block spot. But they did and while it exploding was pretty silly, it made sense as a match finish. These two have been real standouts in multi mans and I was just really wanting a brutal singles match, and they totally delivered.

PAS: Yup this was pretty great, they have done a really nice job with the non-luchadores in this fed. I have enjoyed Mack or Cage way more in this context then any other. Mack especially comes off like a hugely charismatic star. It was smart of them to recognize that and move him quickly out of the Big Ryck and Killshot group (and to relegate Killshot to the jobber battle royal last week). I haven't seen any really great lucha matches from Lucha Underground but they really know how to do insane brawls. I also liked how this didn't even bother to go into the ring, most of these brawls have a section where they go into the ring for the finish, the advantage of LU being a television product, is that they could do away with that trope.

TKG: I really like that at this point I feel like I know where stuff is in the Temple. The way I knew various JAPW buildings so during this kind of crowd touring match you know where guys are going to end up. 

The Miller sponsorship continues to amuse me. There was a point where Steve Austin was one of the biggest figures in popular culture and the WWF with Austin was drawing huge attendance and ratings. The WWF wasn't able to negotiate for a beer sponsorship then, while these guys can pull that off? Or did the WWF not want a beer sponsorship because they somehow thought Miller wasn't as prestigious as Lugz boots? Can't be that, it's the WWE, if Bill Saluga wanted to host RAW, they would be thrilled and treat Saluga as a giant star. Gawd, the Saluga/Kane skits... You can call me Glen or you can call me Isaac...

2. Disciples of Death vs. Angelico, Son of Havoc & Ivelisse

ER: Is one of the DoD really named Barrio Negro? This whole thing threatened to get good at a couple points, but there were too many little problems all throughout for them to overcome. First, Ivelisse has a leg injury. That is fine. We've worked around it well enough to this point, gives their team some character depth. But here we had evil beings named the Disciples of DEATH...who had to noticeably work around her injured leg. When one of the DoD goes for a sub on her he has to go out of his way to grab her healthy leg. If I was a Death Disciple, I would probably be a cruel evil being who would take advantage of every single one of my opponent's weaknesses. I'm not saying I want her hurt leg further injured, but I would take a weak, super fake looking submission on the hurt leg over the already flimsy submission we ended up with. These men are created out of lightning! But then we get moments of "Oh we can't work over that leg, that's her leg that's actually hurt". Their characters are manufactured out of lightning for the sole purpose of murder! Second, the promotion still does no replays. This is a multi-camera shoot. They have at minimum three different recorded angles of Angelico's dive. But I guess this show is a "movie", not a sport event. Movies wouldn't show replays of significant moments. But that is also a fucking stupid approach to pro wrestling. I don't need the WWE overkill of constant "earlier tonight" reports all throughout Raw, but you have a skinny human being hurling himself off of a balcony, and you should be showing that more fucking times than Brian Lee going off a scaffold through tables. Whatever. I liked Havoc's consecutive dives, loved the Angelico dive (duh), but the DoD are pretty boring and I'm not looking forward to more of them. Any idea on who they are? I'm curious if it's good workers working poorly in a gimmick, or just poor workers.

PAS: This was the least of the trios title matches they have run, you could see the seams a little bit in this match formula. Angelico's big dive is crazy as usual, but at this point you are just waiting around for him to do it, it isn't the shock that it was the first time, it is turning a bit into a New Jack thing where the whole match is the song and the dive, and these Angelico matches don't even have a cool song. DoD are kind of cool looking, but otherwise pretty lame and sticking random jobbers under the mask (I think its Ricky Landell, Argenis and Marachi Loco) really hurts, I feel like better performers would have been able to do something with the gimmick.

TKG: Back around 2003 or so there was an amusing editorial written to the observer website complaining about Gabe Sapolsky winning booker of the year. The guy complained that all Gabe did was hire cream of the indy scene and the put them in dream match ups, that wasn't what booking was about. Booking was about having to put together a card with an ex wwf midcarder past his prime, the cousin of his favorite ring rat, a steroided guy afraid of muscle tears, the money mark's son, a regional star who can't bump any more and two green kids who can't run the ropes. Not about having a super talented roster but rather hiding the roster's weaknesses. One thing that can be said about Lucha Underground is they were fucking great at hiding guys weaknesses. It's a fed with 4 tough enough wash outs that found ways to make all of them semi compelling. They created a pretty entertaining face tag team here where you essentially knew everyone's story and their relationship to other members of team and found way to book them to work a midcard version of what are essentially  Public Enemy v Gangstas v Eliminators formula send crowd home happy ECW main events. Nicely put together crowd popping spots where no one gets exposed.

ER: I enjoyed the Miller Lite plug within the context of Cage/Mack. Thought they integrated it as well as possible. But damn Striker's Miller toast followed up with "Mmmmmmm that's so refreshing! So good!" is just about the opposite of the spectrum. Nice read, Velma. Not as good as Vampiro drinking out of a clearly empty can and saying "That's good beer, brother."

3. Hernandez vs. Drago (Believers Backlash Match)

ER: Fun match with a totally absurd stipulation that totally worked as a unique stip. It's not something we need to see regularly, but I loved that we got to see it. On paper it seems like a stip that is almost inviting something to go terribly wrong. What if somebody is throwing a blow and Hernandez turns around and takes a strap right to the eyeball!? My friend Sean went to an indy show in a bar years ago, and there was a weapons brawl. There was a boombox getting used, and at one point the boom box was on the floor and Sean moved it so nobody would trip over it...followed almost immediately by somebody getting power bombed onto it, because they hadn't realized it had been moved. So now you give belts to 20 fans...that's some guts on Hernandez to take numerous runs through that gauntlet. What if you get some guy being a loose cannon all excited because he's gonna be on TV?? You can argue that it got in the way of a good singles match at times, but I think it's a testament to how underrated Hernandez is that he put it over as well as he did. And also, that fucking tope into mist-and-then-floor was insane. People will be talking about the Angelico dive but this was just as crazy but in a different way. Striker had some nice moments during this, and I especially like him explaining why Hernandez was able to get out of his Drago Clutch.

PAS: This was also a pretty great gimmick match, it is too bad Hernandez may have burned his LU bridges, because he really hit his groove here as an asshole heel. You don't usually see a guy work as both monster and comedy stooge and he does both well. Also damn does he take a beating, not only does he get the skin strapped off his back by random fans, but that missed tope was one of the crazier bumps in a fed full of crazy bumpers. 

TKG: I've seen a ton of fans with straps as lumberjack matches over the years. It's not a match that always translates well outside of live audience, Seen some good ones. Seen some bad ones. They're matches that I've seen guys who do workrate sprints struggle with. You kind of need a heel who knows how to work like kneepadless Budro or Austin Idol to really pull them off. As ideally they're about the heel and the fans, and need a heel who knows lots of ways to mime taunts at fans and lots of ways to do googly eyed stooging when getting whipped by fans. I realize that I've been watching Hernandez' career disinterestedly since 1999. Saw him working like Rod Price in FMW on Texas indies, watched him working as part of a fake Sheik tag team in AJPW, watched him blow up trying to be a roided workrate wrestler in ROH, watched him work as workrate fake Angle in AJPW when Red was working fake Rey, watched him work as fake JAW Heavyweight tagged with Homicide in TNA, am watching him here. Somewhere between TNA and Lucha Underground he picked up some mid 90s Austin Idol tapes and instead of studying the mic work, studied the in ring stuff. and he's been all about the Fargo strutting and miming since he showed up in Lucha Underground. He was the perfect guy for this match. As pretty much everything in ring was a mess but all the fan Hernandez interactions were great.

This if course wasn't a one man Hernandez show and a ton of credit needs to be given to the ponytailed plant among the fans. According to Fredo he's a local worker who he has seen work as Fidel and he was amazing here. Always in the right place, snoring big, setting up the big spots, set up the fans refuse to hit the face spot (which is really key to match working), kept on feeding himself to Hernandez, bumped big, ate dives, and just directed traffic. A star making performance. I know nothing about him but his sense of ring awareness makes me want to seek out his work.

So I was looking up to try to figure out who was the other guy in the Double Iron Sheiks with Hernandez and according to multiple internet listings it was Beau James' cousin KC Thunder which is ridiculous. I refused to believe it at first but Zellner claims that accurate. Hillarious as KC Thunder is guy who works as spectacularly great superheavy Austin Idol in U.S.A. but worked nothing like that in AJPW where he was doing gaijin w suplexes. Amusing that Hernandez spent majority of career trying to work like K C Thunder in Japan , while it looks like Hernandez's real strengths maybe in emulating KC Thunder in the US.

ER: This was an excellent start to UltimaLucha and I cannot wait to see what they have in store for the finale. Everybody is clearly busting ass and if this is it for them, I have a feeling they're going to go out with a bang.

PAS: Yeah career matches for Hernandez, Cage and Willie Mack make this a hell of a show, although they really could use some more actual lucha in this fed to mix up the brawls, three variations of street fights in one show is getting a little ECWish, they should have had something like Aerostar v. Jack Evans or Aerostar v. Drago in the middle.


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