Segunda Caida

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

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Because Why Not - Halloween Havoc Chamber of Horrors Match

So it's Halloween, and I've never seen the WCW Chamber of Horrors match. This feels like the only appropriate time to watch and write about this match. And I'm doing it live-as-it-happens style because that also feels appropriate while watching something like this.

As the show starts, Bischoff is in the parking lot interviewing wrestlers and Cactus Jack and Abby pull up, and Abdullah is wearing slacks and a shorts sleeve dress shirt with a necktie...while also holding a staff/shrunken head combo. His eyeglasses were folded up in his shirt pocket. He looked liked he was going as Milton from Office Space for Halloween.

Chamber of Horrors: El Gigante, Steiner Brothers & Sting vs. Big Van Vader, Diamond Studd, Cactus Jack & Abdullah the Butcher, WCW Halloween Havoc 10/27/91

Jack comes out with a chainsaw, no doubt to slice some poor dudes UP! Match starts and Abby bumps on the ramp for Sting, Gigante and Vader have an engaging brawl with Gigante throwing those ineptly stiff shots, and some rando in a black mask jumping out of a casket. Scott Steiner hits a massive tiger drive on Studd. HOLY SHIT Jack is on Scottie's shoulders and takes a fucking DDT with Rick jumping off the top! And then the electric chair lowers and Jack sells momentarily like he's gonna be crushed by the lowering cage. Vader just took his second bump to the floor. Jack awesomely catches a wooden coffin lid with his head. A bunch of enhancement talent all in white clothes and white facepaint and many with fluffy 1991 mullets come out and lurk on the rampway. Abdullah starts climbing the cage for no reason and Cactus hits a mean blade job and is gushing some dark red blood! Vader throws two stiff punches right into Gigante's face and Jack starts climbing the cage with Sting chasing, leading me to expect a Jack trademark stupid bump into somewhere, but he just climbs back down. A moment later Sting throws him out of the ring and Jack DOES take a wild high speed flipping bump over the top and into the cage. The camera misses much of it. Where was the REFER-EYE CAM!?!?

The HD is really making everybody seem ultra freckle-y. Vader, Abby, Gigante and Rick Steiner all have super freckled backs. Never noticed that. Thanks technology. That rando in the black mask is just chained to the cage at ringside. Everybody just kind of ignores him, even the announcers. Schiavone makes an astute observation that the best strategy for the match would be to stay away from the electric chair. That adds up. But soon after Rick Steiner hits a sort of belly to belly placing Abby into the chair, locks the arm restraints and for some reason Jack pulls the lever. Then a bunch of fireworks go off while Abby gyrates and most people just kind of leave while Abdullah is just sitting in the chair with his eyes closed. Then Abdullah bursts out of the chair, kicks a ring crew guy in the head, then bowling balls his way through most of the guys in white. Then we cut back to Ross and Schiavone while in the background we see the all the guys in white just get up, dust themselves up and walk to the back, out of our lives, out of our hearts.

So, I actually loved the first few minutes of this. Guys were taking some stupid bumps, getting busted open, throwing stiff shots, the kind of stuff you'd want in this type of match. But then I think people got sleepy or something because there was just a bunch of wandering around without any violence. And then it ended, as we all will someday.

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All Japan Motherload - Tenryu/Hara vs. Baba/Jumbo + Haiku

Giant Baba/Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Genichiro Tenryu/Ashura Hara - AJPW 11/30/81

ER: Sadly joined just a few minutes in, this is still a hot tag and we jump right in with Tenryu (decked in deep purple trunks) doing his sumo slaps to Jumbo who in turn keeps responding with some mean Jumbo elbows. I'm still not getting over Tenryu as bullied youngish man, so it's wild seeing Jumbo beat him up and then Baba boot him in the face. Jumbo here looks really great for pre-Chosyu invasion Jumbo, really looked riled up and mean. Hara was maybe my favorite AJPW 80s discovery and here he takes it right to both guys, leading to Jumbo locking on a cool abdominal stretch on the mat, grapevining the leg. Later on Tenryu pays him back with a sick octopus hold, really forcing Jumbo's neck down. Tenryu also hits one of the best versions of his top rope elbow I've seen, planting it 60% of the way across the ring. Later we also get an early peek at his enziguiri, as Hara kinda slingshots him into a front kick. I'm really loving these mid tourney RWTL matches that have been popping up.

Purple Tenryu
Hara badass Randy Marsh
Jumbo gets receipt

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Friday, October 30, 2015

MLJ: Blue Panther Lightning Matches 6: Blue Panther vs Boby Zavala in a lightning match

Aired: 2014-07-20
Taped: 2014-07-20 @ Arena Coliseo
Blue Panther vs Boby Zavala in a lightning match

This probably isn't a good enough match go to go Dailymotion for. It wasn't for lack of effort, though. Let's put it this way: this could be a very interesting match to watch in five years if Boby moves up the card, gets more experienced, and really settles in as a great talent. I think he's got the potential for it and I think he's positioned by CMLL in a way that it might work out. Unless I'm mistaken, he'll be on Fantasticamania, so onward and upwards and all that. At that point, it could be interesting to see this as it pertains to his development. As it is now, it's just a sort of crummy lightning match, where the wrestlers tried but couldn't pull it together. It's more damning for Panther than Zavala in my mind, because he didn't get him through the match nearly as well as I thought he would.

So, what went wrong? Execution mostly. The effort was there. I'd even say the ideas were there, but the actually execution fell apart. That's not the most important thing in the world to me, but it does stand out, and here, the recovery and the covering up of it just weren't good enough.

In some ways, this was an interesting pairing. I think Zavala's strengths are in his facial expressions. I know he wears the cowboy hat and all that, but he always comes off as a barely-in-shape frat boy huffing and puffing through his matches, but in a good way. He portrays this sort of frustrated exasperation when getting beat on by a tecnico. Panther, on the other hand, has great expressions too, able to garner sympathy and portray real pain with that sort of withered, aged look. So whenever Panther made just about anything work, Zavala was able to make it mean something and the same was true when Zavala locked in a hold.

It just still wasn't enough to overcome things like a flubbed snapmare or a lot of not great attempts at a surfboard, or that same rolling keylock from the Virus match, but here it wasn't rolling so much as as thumping about in a vaguely circular manner. Even then, the ideas were good. Zavala kept trying to go for that foot-assisted surfboard. When that didn't work, he tried multiple attempts at a full nelson. The last time they went to it (after the first dive of the match), Zavala seemed too winded to even put it on, and Panther was just able to casually snatch an arm and take him down.

So, to recap, what they went for? Pretty good. How it came out? Not so good, though to Panther's credit, he both hit a nice diving top rope rana and took a bump out of the ring that he probably shouldn't have. The match more or less built to two dives, a Panther tope after a Boby Z Ultimo Guerrero corner knee bump in the middle and the Zavala one at the end (after said bump Panther probably shouldn't have taken). After the second dive, they laid around a bunch selling, drawing a double count out.

Ultimately, it was good that Boby got to have the experience of a match like this with a wrestler like Panther, and hopefully he learned something, but this just wasn't good.

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

MLJ: Recent Uploads: Atlantis © vs Emilio Charles Jr. [NWA MIDDLE]

1990-09-21 @ Arena México
Atlantis © vs Emilio Charles Jr. [NWA MIDDLE]

I wanted to properly do the Charles vs Atlantis feud at some point, but instead I'm reaching for the shiny 15 minute title match that popped up last week to offset my current lack of time to watch as much as I want. Maybe more important is the fact that there are just so many title matches between the two of them between 88 and 93 or so and not a ton are online. It'd be an exercise in spotty frustration. Better to just look at this in isolation and enjoy it for what it is.

It's good, is what it is. You sort of knew what you were getting coming in due to the time. There are three falls. It's a title match. The video is fifteen minutes long. Something had to give in one of the falls. If we're looking at a 2015 match, then that would mean a minuscule segunda. It's a 1990 match though, so I wasn't sure how that was going to work out.

The primera was worked as title match primeras ought to be worked, feeling out, holds, escalation into some sequence, and a sudden, definitive stop. This actually didn't have quite as many holds as you might have wanted, but the feeling out was really strong. They just wrestled to begin, riding each other and trying to maintain control. It was a little different from what I usually see and I enjoyed it:

It ended fairly quickly after the pace picked up with Charles catching a rana attempt into a 1990 powerbomb for the pin.

Charles started the segunda with the advantage, bursting across the ring to hit a dropkick out of nowhere (remember that). He was controlling the tempo here. Even though this wasn't a long match, a lot of it was very methodological, which made it feel sufficiently weighty. Eventually, though, he went to the well too often on corner charges, and Atlantis moved, following it up with a sort of electric chair fall-back. Charles sold it like it was the biggest move in the world:

Atlantis didn't let up in his comeback, hitting a really nice neckbreaker (I feel like you don't see too many of those in lucha), then finally the quebradora. The pace stayed about the same here, even as Charles fed him (and stooged for him too, falling through the ropes to sell):

Atlantis finally managed a dive and followed it up with a massive victory roll for the pin.

So nothing really gave in the primera or segunda. The primera didn't have too many holds, but the segunda had a bit of heat and a solid comeback. They certainly weren't rushing things. It was the tercera which was lightning fast. Charles went for the dropkick out of nowhere to start the fall, but missed it this time, and Atlantis almost immediately locked on the Atlantida for the quick sub. It was a jarring but very celebratory moment since it took the crowd by surprise. Definitely not the sort of thing they could do every day but as a surprise, it really worked, and was the sort of finish that would make future matches more interesting just due to the possibility of it. Obviously I would have liked a longer tercera with a lot of near-falls and selling, but this was fun for what it was.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Digging in the Crates Podcast #5

Phil is joined by multiplatformed Internet journalist David Bixenspan to discuss some cool under the radar matches

Digging in the Crates #5

Perros Del Mal v. Dinamitas

Caribbean Sunshine Boys v. Kung Fu Fighters

Danny Cannon v. Kongo Kong

Some CTI Records Jazz

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

MLJ: Recent Uploads: El Hijo del Perro Aguayo, Rey Bucanero, Último Guerrero vs El Hijo Del Santo, LA Park, Negro Casas

2004-09-10 @ Arena México
El Hijo del Perro Aguayo, Rey Bucanero, Último Guerrero vs El Hijo Del Santo, LA Park, Negro Casas

More from the recent uploads pile and this one was an absolute blast. I'd compare this to the Wagner/Park trios from Arena Mexico a couple of months ago. It just had that level of heat, and that level of star power. I've been avoiding Perro, Jr., I guess because I didn't want things to seem too gimmicky. I've seen very few of his matches, though I'd like to watch a lot of Perrito & Garza at some point. I think there's enough distance now that I can start on something like that soon.

This was shortly after Perro's big turn during the Leyenda de Plata in 2004, where he broke the plaque. GdI had been together for something like five years at this point and their act was a well-oiled machine. Park was Park. Casas was Casas, and this was heated. The simplest formula in the world. Ambush-Brawl-Beatdown/Comeback/Reset into a heated back and forth finishing stretch. I'm not saying that's the perfect trios formula (I like opening mat/feeling out exchanges a lot, for instance), but when done well and when there's some heat behind it, there's not a lot better.

The rudos took an immediate advantage with the ambush and superior brawling/numbers game. Pairings, so much as there were parings were Perro/Santo (with slams into the rampway), UG/Park (mask ripping), and Rey/Casas (postings). GdI's act was definitely actualized for a lucha beatdown. They'd run through their spots, but it all just worked. Here, the alley-oop body splash looked awesome:

They followed it up with a very fun sequence where GdI would hit their spots and Perro would punctuate it with a double stomp. He'd even be out of place now and again but it was somehow endearing. It all felt in chararcter.They ended it with Rey's twisting senton onto Santo (who was on UG's knees), which looked great from the overhead cam, and was followed by the bandit celebration.

So, the transition. Yes, it was rote and repetitive, used again and again and again, but them going for the alley-oop splash for a second time was probably one of the most effective transition spots in tag team wrestling history. This time, at least, it was executed really well with a beautiful Casas kick:

Even better, it led to a hot comeback. Casas and Parka were both extremely intense here, with the Casas vs Perro exchange feeling every bit as hot as what he'd do with Rush ten years later, and Park was just in a league of his own. Everyone looked great in this match, but I think he might have looked like the best guy in the ring, that perfect mix of unlikely athleticism and over the top charisma. Santo's senton/dive spot is one of the things he's so well known for and it usually works in an organic way, with him breaking up a pin or something along those lines. Here, Parka just grabbed Rey and slid him down, holding him for it, but it worked because he's someone who can do something so self-aware believably:

Everyone was great though. Staring the tercera, there was this really triumphant moment where Casas leapt up upon the apron to stop Perro from ambushing him:

And he followed it up with a great sequence ending with his usual apron drive and one of the best "basking" moments I've ever seen in wrestling:

Great, great stuff.

The tercera was a few minutes of everything you want in this sort of a match, Park vs the world, mask ripping revenge, a crazy top rope rana, Ultimo Guerrero's knee bump over the top, an impossible flipping dive by Park that showed so much agility, Santo drawing all eyes upon him against Rey Bucanero, even after everything that happened and a great dickish rudo finish. This was the good stuff. I could have grabbed ten more gifs than I did but everything had weight and felt like it mattered and everyone shined.

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Monday, October 26, 2015

CMLL Worth Watching 8/9/15 & 8/28/15

LA Park, Atlantis & Volador Jr. vs. Rush, La Sombra & Dr. Wagner Jr. (8/28/15)

LA Park's big (and he certainly is big...) return to Arena Mexico! The prospect of seeing Rush vs. Park is something that should be high on the wishlist of every lucha fan, and those two together here was magic. Neither holds back, with Park tossing out some nasty headbutts during a headbutt exchange, and several times kicking Rush right in the face. I've seen some people complain about Rush taking liberties, but he never seems to have any problem leaning face first into offense. Park is a tub now, but he still has that Park magic. He still has a way to go to get to full on Kraneo level mega tub. Kraneo is probably better than Park in the ring at this point, but he doesn't have nearly the same level charisma. Clearly we need them to combine fat forces. Anyway, everybody tries to steal the spotlight in this one, and the fans are amped the whole time. Atlantis, Sombra and Volador all took turns seeing who could take the most dangerous ass over crown bump over the rail into the crowd. Sombra did it a couple times. We get all sorts of bullshit leading to the end, all of it pretty fun, with Atlantis going for the Atlantida and accidentally swinging Sombra into the ref, then some ball shots, then Park breaking up a pin by dropkicking the ref (couldn't he have just kicked Sombra....), then a demasking and more ball shots. Park hits a fat guy tope that Rush mans into, Rush hits a gorgeous high speed swan dive, Volador hits a sweet slingshot rana, Wagner hits his somersault dive high and hot on Park, and this whole thing was as good as you expected it to be. I'm not sure if this was a one time deal or not for Park, but I loved seeing him. A Rush feud would be tremendous.

Ephesto, Mephisto & Luciferno vs. Atlantis, Guerrero Maya Jr. & Delta (8/9/15)

This is for the trios titles and while it was a fun trios match, it never had the immediacy of a title match. It didn't feel any different from any of the other regular trios matches these teams had around this same time. There was really no drama of any kind. No desperation, no fear over losing the titles, just three falls of standard lucha trios. So that stinks. But the match was fun, so that doesn't stink! Delta is a guy I don't need to see as often as I do, but Maya seems to be steadily improving. I love that one of his regular spots is hitting a super fast dive that sends him into the front row. Here he hits his massive flip dive and then takes out a row of chairs, clotheslining some fan in the process. Ephesto sets up Delta's stuff about as well as possible, even gamely waiting around for his little ropeflip headscissor from the ring to the floor. Atlantis is still super spirited at 53, and at one point he comes in and hits backbreakers on all three rudos with more energy than anybody else showed. All three tecnicos hit stereo dives, but really it was kinda weird how standard the finish to a title match was. They did their dives, Atlantis got back in the ring with Mephisto, and Mephisto hit his top rope pedigree for the win.

Rey Escorpion, Rey Bucanero & Terrible vs. Mistico, Valiente & Volador Jr. (8/9/15)

Super quick paced match with both Reys having a contest to see who could SUWA more rana and headscissors from Mistico and Volador. I think Escorpion wins it, but truly, we ALL win. We. ALL. Win. Escorpion really makes Mistico look maybe the best he's ever looked here, with Mistico getting crazy air on a bunch of stuff and Escorpion catching it all perfectly. Bucanero makes Volador look super smooth. We don't get the usual Escorpion or Terrible violence, although we do get probably the most violent "tie the tecnicos up in knots" posing spot. Tecnicos get all their limbs tangled, Mistico stretched over the top of them, with Escorpion posing on top. I will never complain about a fun bump clinic with excellently hit spots. This is a fun way to spend 10 minutes of your day.

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Sunday, October 25, 2015

MLJ: Blue Panther Lightning Matches 5: Blue Panther vs Ephesto

Aired: 2014-06-28
taped:  2014-06-22 @ Arena Coliseo
Blue Panther vs Ephesto in a lightning match

This has opening credits, which is interesting in and of itself to CMLL Titanes del Ring on Claro Sports. I know that some people reading this watch the TV, but a lot of us just follow through what cubs posts, and we never really get the tv experience the way that it's supposed to be. That's especially true when we're plucking at older matches. Of course, this is CMLL, so the "intention" probably is given less thought than what Hijo del Gladiador is going to have for lunch, but in general medium and presentation matters in how we view this stuff. Just, maybe not all that much.

The credits are sort of interesting, with statues turning into wrestlers. Shocker's the first guy focused upon, which is telling for a show from a year ago, or so. Then came Rush, and it ended with Marco and Sombra and then bodies crashing into each other.

For the amount that something like WWE openings are micromanaged, again, this is CMLL, and no one should probably even start to think about the logic or hierarchy behind any of this. Let's just move on.

So, Blue Panther vs Ephesto is not nearly as exciting as Blue Panther vs Virus or Blue Panther vs Casas. According to Wiki, Ephesto had just turned 49 a week or two before this match and he does not sup from Casas' fountain of youth. Nor is the the sort of mat wizard that Virus is. That said, they tried. They kept things well within limits, and it was all sound, even if not super exciting.

Thankfully, I'm the one guy not in to the lucha to necessarily be excited. What they did give us was sound and well built. the first three minutes were built around full nelson attempts, and it was done well, with various counters and reversals, and served as a feeling out period, culminating with Panther creating distance and thet wo fo them standing off.

The second segment had them go down to the mat, with Panther taking an early advantage, but Ephesto reversing with a headscissors. Panther used a headstand to break out and moved into a cross armbreaker, with Ephesto reversing it into a head-assisted half crab and then a very fun cross-leg submission and a pin attempt.

That brought them into the last third of the match, where Ephesto had a distinct advantage. He really kept the submissions coming, quickly cutting of Panther whenever he tried to do anything at all. He had a nice shoulder breaker in here too, and a few very minor cut offs.

There wasn't really a comeback so much as Panther just getting a few shots in during the finishing stretch. At one point, he just hit a slam and they moved on towards the end, which was fine, with Ephesto getting a nice nearfall off of a complex roll up before Panther locked in the fujiawara arm bar out of nowhere.

There was nothing wrong with this and I liked the way it advanced for the most part, with the work being more than solid. It just lacked that narrative oomph of a come-back moment, when it could have inserted it in due to Ephesto's mini-heat advantage. Ultimately, it was a solid but meaningful match that didn't have the intensity or the oneupsmanship of the Casas matches or the wizardry of the Virus one.

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Saturday, October 24, 2015

CMLL Worth Watching 8/23/15 & 9/11/15

Blue Panther, Dragon Lee & Stuka Jr. vs. Kamaitachi, Ripper & Rey Bucanero (8/23/15)

Oh man this was fun. Nothing at stake, just all these guys you like doing things you want to see. Bucanero and Panther get a long roll on the mat, and it never fails to impress me how smooth a fluid Panther still does things, rolling through a leg lock or doing a side roll to advance a transition just isn't done better by anybody else in lucha, let alone guys half his age. In the segunda he locks Bucanero into an ankle lock that actually looks like it hurts, a rarity! I live for these little 2 minute mat segments of Panther. Even doing things like quickly bumping through the ropes to the floor are done like he's not even in control of his body, his muscle memory just allows it to happen. Like he bumps backwards off a shoulder block, out through the bottom and middle rope, lands on his feet and has no idea how he got there. His body just knows what to do. Ripper brings back his gorgeous flipping Cassandro bump, kind of fusing a somersault Hamrick bump to the floor with a Cassandro wrap-around the post bump, and Stuka's signature stuff always impresses me. Lee/Kamaitachi has been one of the more fun match-ups of the last year as they always go hard at each other, with each taking stupid bumps at awkward angles, both working blindingly fast and really know each other like the back of their respective hands. Lee always flies stupidly into Kamaitachi's rampway sprint dropkick, always dumping himself ass over elbow, Kamaitachi also dumps him with a couple of rolling Germans, and later Lee hits the craziest high speed flip dive to the floor, just leveling Lee. Every time these two are in against each other it's total must see. Wrestlers you like, doing wrestling you like. Easy recommendation.

Marco Corleone, Rush & Maximo vs. Super Parka, Volador Jr. & Valiente (9/11/15)

Hey I didn't realize Super Parka was also coming in! He is truly old (just about 60) so I'm an instant sucker for this. Rush and Marco don't let up on him, and after a little bit of early awkwardness Parka settles in fine. Marco looked really great here, more inspired and nasty than I've seen him a...sheesh all year. His left hands were awesome, blasting Valiente several times, leveling everybody with shots. This was technically two tecnico teams but Rush's team was obviously default rudos, and they all thrived in the role. The three of them at one point set up Rush's "punt" feint, with Maximo holding the invisible ball (laces out, hopefully). Parka and Volador work nice together and I always love father/son dynamics. Volador works like an actual brawling badass here, his pops already being a good influence. Volador also bumps like a loon, peaking with a flip bump on the apron off a Marco punch....and then getting up and doing the same damn thing right after! Parka hit a nice 60 yr old man tope, Marco hit 3 variations of his big no hands crossbody (seriously Marco looked really great throughout this), both teams had well set up moments where a big dive hit their own teammate, with Marco doing a crossbody to Maximo, and Valiente diving into Volador. Parka was really fun here, wandering around punching guys (especially cracking Maximo a few times), kind of like a late career  Pierroth. Super fun match. I want a Park/Parka/Volador team to take on Rush/Comandante Pierroth/Dragon Lee team. Make this happen!!

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Friday, October 23, 2015

MLJ: Recent Uploads: Black Magic vs La Fiera

1992-04-19 @ Arena Coliseo
La Fiera vs Black Magic (mano a mano)

If I wasn't sold on early 90s rudo Fiera before this match, I am now. I can't say the same for Smiley, though I do think he brought a lot to the table here. A quick note to begin. The video for this match is 23 minutes, but the match itself is probably ten minutes less between a pre-match Fiera promo and post match posturing and replays and credits. I expected a much longer tercera than we got. In some ways, it's good. One of the downsides in watching matches on youtube is that you usually have a good sense when they're going to end, and more importantly when they're NOT going to end. This one took me by surprise. I just wanted to manage expectations by pointing it out.

Also, we need a whole paragraph to talk about Fiera's look and feel at the start of the match. He had the chain/dog collar again. He had sunglasses. he had a cut down tank top thing and I have no idea what was on it, a band maybe? His fingers were taped up. He had some crazy aquamarine zubaz-style-on-the-side tights and white boots that went up to knee pads. I think I like his tecnico "crazy tiger shirt" look better, but this was such a spotlight of the time. So, he came down, Black Magic came down. They had words for each other, moved around the ring. When Smiley was announced, he posed around the ring a bit. Fiera used that as a chance to ambush him with the chain. The ref (who was certainly inclined towards the rudos, annoyingly so, but not as annoyingly so as in other matches I've seen), halfheartedly tried to take the chain away, which led to this utterly amazing double clothesline spot, with Fiera clapping at the end:

Even better? Fiera kept beating on Smiley for another minute or so before finally taking the sunglasses off, to surprisingly big heat. Smiley would come back and set up a ten punch in the corner only to have the ref cut him off. With both of them distracted in that position, Fiera hit an awesome low blow, setting the stage for the rest of the primera:

Fiera followed this up by forcing Smiley out of the ring and slammed his arm into the post, and here's where the real meat of the match began. We know from the Casas hair match that Fiera could mount a great, focused limb assault. He did so here, unrelentingly keeping on the arm and shoulder, even as Smiley sold extremely well, and tried to fight back with one arm even better. You'd get moments of hope and temporary rudo comeuppance like this:

but between the ref stopping Smiley's haymakers and Fiera being too focused in his attack, it was a futile effort. Fiera ended the caida with a shoulderbreaker and a submission. Good primera that really became something substantial once the limbwork set in.

It continued into the segunda too, with Smiley's initial comeback attempt stymied by some ref slow counting and a subsequent Fiera ambush as he complained. That led to Fiera going back to the arm and a very solid transition. Fiera went for another weighty-feeling stepover armbar, but Smiley, playing up the strength gimmick, lifted his opponent up out of it, placed him on the top rope, and after a few shots, dropkicked him out. On the outside, he slammed Fiera's back into apron, and we found ourselves in one of my favorite narratives in wrestling, dueling limbwork.

I'm not going to say that this was super elaborate (though Smiley got full points in the primera for trying to fight back with one arm). It was focused though, with Smiley really targeting the back for a few minutes before putting Fiera away with a half crab. Within the confines of pro-wrestling, it's one of the most believable ways in the world for a wrestler to fight back from such a deficit and it just feels right. It's paralleled and I thought it worked really well here.

It would have worked even better if they were going to continue the duel into the tercera. They only had time to play with it a bit though. Instead, Smiley went back to complaining to the ref, Fiera ambushed (and the crowd hated that), hit a really nice corner clothesline but missed the next. There'd be some lip service to the limbwork (Fiera got back on offense for a moment by driving the shoulder into Smiley's arm out of the corner; Smiley reversed a whip into a bear hug, targeting the back, but couldn't keep it on due to the arm), but after the little back and forth, they'd rush to a pretty good finish of Smiley going for the German, Fiera blocking, and Smiley reversing the reversal attempt into a Nothern Lights.

This was another great Fiera performance. Smiley's selling was top notch, but his offense was a little over the top. It's what would help him stand out later in WCW, but as of yet, I just haven't seen it fit right in Mexico. This also had probably the least painful heel ref work I've ever seen. The match itself is less than fifteen minutes and well worth watching though.

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PWG Battle of Los Angeles Night 2

Marty Scrull v. Rich Swann

This was fine indy juniors wrestling. Scrull had a lot of shtick which I began to tire of, I liked the finger breaking spots, but it didn’t really lead anywhere. Still this was short enough and didn’t have a ton of things I hated. Would get the full Worldwide point

Angelico v. Jack Evans

Well if you are going to do a goofy indy comedy match, I much prefer this kind of thing to stupid shit like slow motion or hypnotizing. Jack Evans is talking shit to the audience and goes to grab a beer, he drinks it and breaks out Drunken Kung Fu, which he was totally awesome at, so much fun to watch him and Angelico do Jackie Chan spots. The rest of the match was fine, but they probably should have made that the apex of the match.

Chris Hero v. Timothy Thatcher.

This was really great, and the kind of change of pace night one really needed. Less grappling then EVOLVE Thatcher matches, as this was more of a FUTENish slugfest. Hero was absolutely blitzing Thatcher with kicks and elbows, which Thatcher would do a great stunned sell of. Thatcher meanwhile would fire back with uppercuts and grabbing ankle picks, including one in the ropes which looked like it might shred Hero’s achilles. Lots of great violence here, including a Hero short snap piledriver which Thatcher sold like it paralyzed his arm, and a headbutt counter by Thatcher which looked like it dislocated Hero’s jaw. I didn’t love the finish, which had Hero hit a sick tombstone, and have Thatcher grab a Fujiwara  but get countered to a Hero’s welcome for the pin. Hero’s welcome is a real Novaish finisher to end a slugfest like this, should have just had Hero get the pin after the tombstone. Still this was a blast.

Fenix/Aeorstar v Drago/Pentagon Jr.

Hyped up version of a Nitro Lucha tag. None of these guys are prime Juventud Guerrera, but this was a blast. Fenix especially looked good, hitting a really insane dive really fast. I thought Aerostar was a bit botchy, but outside of him everything was hit cleanly and Pentagon continues to look like a total badass.

Drew Gulak v. Tommy End

I enjoyed this, it was worked as sort of a bankrupt man’s Ikeda v. Ishikawa. Gulak would control with takedowns and grappling, while End would spring out and land a big punch or kick.  I liked End’s spin kick a lot, which is a great looking strike which Gulak sold great. There was a silly spot with End selling a knee by falling down hokeyly and getting clotheslined, and I thought the finish was a good idea that wasn’t executed properly. Still this was mostly pretty good, and I like how this show is mixing up the styles of matches, much better then night one which was very samey.

Speedball Mike Bailey v. Drew Galloway

Bailey has gotten to be a master at this kind of workrate indy match. Galloway is just a monster compared to most indy wrestlers and this was almost Rey v. Big Show.  Really liked how nasty all of Galloway’s simple stuff looked, he had really nasty stomps including some right on Bailey’s insteps. Galloway set up some very realistic near falls, and made Bailey look overmatched but credible. Felt this went a little long, and would have been better if they cut a near fall or two.

Zach Sabre Jr. vs. Ricochet

Pretty entertaining stuff, with Ricochet looking perfectly comfortable working Sabre’s WOS tribute act stuff. Ricochet even breaks out the Cerebro special which will endear me to you. Sabre has a bunch of fun ways to snatch someone out of midair. This seemed like it was raring up to go long, but I actually liked the point it ended at. Good stuff.

Mt.. Rushmore 2.0 (Super Dragon/Young Bucks) v. Andrew Everett/Trevor Lee/Biff Busick

Super Dragon returns after a four year absence, which was preceded by a three year absence, so it has been seven years or so since he has been a regular active wrestler and he comes in killing people like he hasn’t missed a beat. He takes an Alabama Slam on a ladder, does a flip dive and takes a bunch of chair shots to the head. Busick and he just rip into each other all match. Busick feels like a guy who grew up watching Super Dragon and was super amped to have a chance to have one of these crazy brawls. Bucks are fine in this kind of nutjob brawl (my favorite Bucks match ever is their Guerrila warfare match against Dragon and Steen), they aren’t afraid to take big bumps and they make you want to see them suffer.  Everett has had a great tourney so far, his big fake out dive was one of my spots of the year, and his lunatic springboard shooting  press was incredible. Did care about the stuff with the ref, and the thumbtack shoes were cooler in theory then in execution, but this was the most lunatic match of the year, and I loved it.

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

My Favorite Wrestling: WCW WorldWide 11/3/96

We continue our little mini journey through '96 WCW. This episode turned out to be one of the all time best episodes of WCW syndicated TV. Catch it!

1. Scott Norton vs. Mike Marcello

Total glorious massacre. Marcello was like the nerdy Masao Inoue of waiting in the ring jobbers. He had a cotton ball in his ear and Schiavone talked about how he had an ear infection. Good grief. Marcello starts off really fun by rolling under a Norton clothesline, hitting a dropkick, rolling out of the way of a Norton elbowdrop (and Norton really plants his elbow on the miss), then leaping onto Norton's back like Inigo Montoya, but from there it's all Norton massacring him. Norton breaks out a couple headbutt variations that I've never seen him use (one with him holding Marcello's head and the other more of a thrust headbutt). Marcello was really good selling the headbutts, checking his head for blood. Okay, he clearly just thought he got busted open hardway, but it added to the match. He bumps around real nice for Norton, Norton destroys him with the shoulderbreaker. Yeah, this is what you'd want out of Norton vs. Mike Marcello. Mike Marcello, the poor man with the ear infection.

2. Dave Taylor vs. Bobby Eaton

We cut to the crowd booing Taylor, particularly a mother and her 10 yr old daughter, both of whom are seen wearing midriff halter tops. And oh shit this match is great (except for the stupid pinfall finish). This gets almost 6 minutes which is surprising, but Taylor jumps Eaton before the bell and just blasts him with a couple uppercuts, but the whole match is Eaton fighting back with his gorgeous and violent punches. Taylor does a bunch of fun bumps for all the punches, a few slow falling tree bumps, a comic spill through the ropes to the floor, and Eaton mixes up the blows between his beautiful shot to the jaw and blows to the body. A great spot sees Taylor go for a boston crab only for Eaton to punch him in the stomach, dropping Taylor at the waist, who then takes a punch to the face. Do you like perfect punches? Do you like nasty uppercuts? You'll like all of this. Finish is goofy now but may have seemed novel 20 years ago, as Taylor traps Eaton in the same boston crab position and does a flip over cradle, but Eaton gets a shoulder up and Taylor is the one who gets counted down. Which obviously makes no sense since nobody would have possibly thought Eaton was pinning Taylor in his position, but they tried to get cute on us. Taylor kicks the shit out of Eaton afterwards, as he should. Both guys looked killer here. Taylor had some cool leg picks and both had no problem dishing out stiff shots. One of the best Taylor syndicated matches, as usually his matches (win or lose) only get 2-3 minutes.

We get a perfect Arn Anderson promo on Luger, talking about how Luger has unquestionably the best body in the biz, and Anderson says "And you know, I think I look pretty good myself, but nobody would say I have a perfect body. But beneath your exterior, your body is made of paper mache, and I'm gonna expose that." There have been a lot of great promo guys in wrestling history, but I think Arn Anderson is far and away the greatest pre-taped backstage promo guy in wrestling history. There were always cool little layers to his backstage promos, things he would set up at the beginning and wrap up throughout the whole promo, neat little moments of personality, just perfectly delivered. Go ahead, name me one guy who is better at these type of promos. NAME ONE!

3. Faces of Fear vs. Casey Thompson & Cliff Sheets

What an odd little jobber squash. Casey Thompson and Cliff Sheets sound PRECISELY like the names of two men who deserve to have the shit kicked out of them by Faces of Fear. Except Thompson and Sheets didn't quite get the message. Meng jumps them at the bell with some absolutely nasty shots that neither of them expected, but they kept doing little things to be really annoying to Meng and Barbarian. Sheets and Thompson were wearing these ill-fitting matching singlets, but keep seeming to go against the script. They take the double teams, they take some nasty vertical suplexes (with a follow up stiff Meng splash off the top), but then do these little irritating things that just...feel like things they're not supposed to do. Like when Meng goes for an elbowdrop and Sheets moves, Meng seems like he didn't expect Sheets to move. THAT'S not supposed to be what happens!! Sheets is supposed to be the guy taking an unexpected elbow to the face. Meng isn't supposed to be the guy unexpectedly whiffing on a elbow! Later we get some hardway powerbombs where is seems like neither of our heroes Thompson and Sheets would quite rotate and land properly. Barbarian hits a nasty Kick of Fear and....Thompson saves his partner from the pinfall? Jobbers don't break up pins against the Faces of Fear! FoF actually seem genuinely confused, looking at each other like "who the fuck are these guys!?" Sheets and Thompson take headbutts, shots to the throat, Meng fishhooks one of them while biting their face, Hugh Morrus gets involved with actual capable punches, and these men finally get pinned. Who were these men, who tried to go off script with Meng? I fear for them and their loose cannon brains, but am also glad they existed 20 years ago. With their clear deathwish they probably drove home that night headlong into traffic.

4. Juventud Guerrera vs. Konnan

Holy shit you guys. This was great. Wanna see Konnan trying to work like Negro Navarro? Here ya go. Konnan locks on some weird submissions, works a cravate, works some weird Regal leg reversals, the world is confused. Juvy was crazy in '96, and Konnan clearly respected him as this might be the only '96 Konnan match I've seen that wasn't just a sloppily assembled Konnan moves exhibition. Konnan is a total dickhead standing and jumping on Juvy's face, but he also gives Juvy a bunch of stuff, taking all of his spin kicks and dropkicks. Juvy takes a wild flapjack bump to the hard rotating WorldWide stage, then flips out of a Konnan powerbomb on the floor, and since Juvy is a crazy person he ends up taking an electric chair bump on the freaking ring apron. You picture that being done in 1996. That feels like something that would happen in a modern indy dream match. Back in and Juvy botches a springboard whoknowswhat, redoes it into a backflip only to get brained by a brutal Konnan lariat for the win. I never EVER would have thought a Konnan match could have made a comp tape, but ladies, here it is. This match was bananas. Maybe the only good Konnan WCW match I've seen.

5. Diamond Dallas Page vs. Eddie Guerrero

God I miss Eddie. He looked so damn good here. DDP also looked good and is a guy who ages really well on rewatch, just because you can tell he's always working so damn hard in his matches. Eddie starts the match at a super fast pace, and DDP is a loon so he aims to match Eddie's pace for the entire  8 minutes. That's awesome, and the result is awesome. You get him taking fast Eddie armdrags, and early DDP gets hung up in the ropes like when TJ Perkins does his Spiderman feint, grasping the ropes horizontally to lure his opponent. DDP treats it like a "Andre trapped in the ropes" spots and it works smashingly. God I love DDP. Eddie is not to be outdone in this so the match sees him taking three different and unique flapjack bumps (one off a super high flapjack, another with DDP doing a belly to back suplex but Eddie lands on his stomach, and another flapjack bump from the ring to the floor!), DDP does a really cool gutbuster, holding Eddie up on his shoulder like Scott Norton's shoulderbreaker, but then dropping him down stomach first over his knee. We get a hold the ropes abdominal stretch spot, but DDP spices it up by taking palm strike shots at Eddie's ribs. Eddie does a cool little armdrag to get out of it.

And then...

We hit one of the absolute worst WCW syndicated finishes I've seen. Maybe THEE worst. I had no memories of there being so many terrible finishes to these syndicated matches. I foolishly remember the opposite, with there being a nice hierarchy established and there being actual satisfying finishes. Clearly I was a fool. Here's the finish to Eddie/DDP: Eddie takes a bump to the floor, lands near Chavo. Eddie then gets DQ'd for Chavo interference. Chavo never touched anybody, literally was just standing at ringside. Eddie fell near him. Eddie was the one who took the bump, and then got DQ'd immediately after the bump. DDP was nowhere near either man at this point. It would have made just as much sense to say the overweight woman sitting on the Rascal wearing a No Fear shirt interfered, as she was just as close to DDP. We've officially found the worst ending of any match in history. If whatever happened here was worthy of a DQ then I'm not actually sure how pro wrestling exists. The DQ bell would sound whenever two guys looked somewhat cross at each other.

Horrible, awful finish to an otherwise completely awesome episode.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

MLJ: Recent Uploads: Espectro Jr., La Fiera, Satánico vs Black Magic, Love Machine, Último Dragón

1992-04-10 @ Arena Coliseo
Espectro Jr., La Fiera, Satánico vs Black Magic, Love Machine, Último Dragón

I don't know about you guys but my favorite lucha themed holiday isn't Dia de Muertos but "whenever dataintcash posts new lucha." I realize that there's a near endless amount of lucha I haven't seen. I realize I never exactly finished the DVDVR 80s set. I realize this, but it's still kind of a blast when something previously unavailable online pops up.

I like nice tight little series, a trios or two and a singles match at the end of it. Here, we've got a Coliseo mini feud, a trios match, a singles match. Nice and neat. Norman Smiley is a guy who got good at some point but I'm not convinced in the least that 1992 was that point. I haven't been impressed yet as he seemed to almost be working a strongman gimmick with lots of posing. I have a feeling his rudo work is stronger than his tecnico work (which is true for just about everyone, it seems) but I haven't seen much of that. Frankly, I'm more interested in this as a Fiera showcase. It's another singles match for him from the early 90s. We've just got to get to it through a pretty crazy trios.

I've seen very little Art Barr in Mexico. This seems early for him there and he was a tecnico which also seems wrong somehow. This was just a week after the Panther mask match, and yeah, how have I not seen that? Just looking online quickly, most of the build isn't online so that'd be frustrating but I have to still check it out at some point. I go around looking at random Panther lightning matches and not that? Anyway, yeah, this was a week after that, and Panther was hanging out with the rudos selling the piledriver that finished it, neckbrace and all, well-appreciated in an age of Rush doing package piledrivers and what not. Also appreciated was Love Machine bursting out to attack Panther. Hell of a way to start the proceedings. Here's the newly unmasked Barr sort of basking in it all:

Probably the best part was that right after the assault, after the other rudos batter him away from Panther, Fiera, who had a dog collar and a chain around this time, immediately smashed Magic with it and hung him over the top rope. They didn't waste any time getting into it while still building off of the giant match that had just happened between Panther and Machine. So we had a more than solid rudo beatdown. Rudo Fiera certainly was spirited, blasting Magic and Dragon with the chain, and finishing the fall off with a foul while the ref was distracted.

The match never really settled down into something that felt controlled or structured. There was always something wild about it, as if it'd get thrown out at any moment. I think that's an energy Barr brought to the table really, even when he was getting swarmed. In the segunda, the tecnicos kept trying to fight back but couldn't get traction until Magic reversed a whip. Dragon was happy to blow mist all over the place (though never at his opponents); it's funny how that part of his gimmick disappeared over the years. Eventually things ended up as Magic vs Fiera again, finishing with a German from Magic. I have no idea what happened, though, as while it was a nice suplex, Smiley couldn't hold the bridge. I think he might have landed on his head. The ref just gave it to the tecnicos.

Segunda was a bit of a reset, with the highlight being Satanico and Dragon having a short but really good exchange. Satanico never disappears in these matches. Here, he seemed to be directing traffic, like always, with the express intent of getting revenge on Machine for what happened to Blue Panther. I love watching Satanico do his stuff: just little things like his mannerisms here as they were triple goozling Magic in the corner:

It's hard to say that this broke down at the end, since it had never really come together except for as a slightly focused brawl, but it became even more chaotic in the end, with Dragon hitting the Santo corner tope on Satanico, and Espectro (who did pretty much disappear in the match) just rolling around with Barr for far too long in order to distract the ref and allow Fiera to crotch Magic to set up the match for the following week.

We end up watching plenty of matches that are ultimately a mess. This was one of them but it was heated with some great punches from Fiera and Satanico and a lot of energy from Dragon and Barr. I'm real curious what Smiley is going to look like in the mano a mano match and we'll look at that next time.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

NWA Classics 24/7 Price Tag Reviews - #8

Dr. Death Steve Williams v. Terry Gordy 2/6/87- $4.00

This was always one of the legendary wrestling magazine match ups when I was a kid. Just two big beasts beating on each other, and it always looked like the best thing. I loved this feud on the Mid-South set, and it is so great to see another chapter show up. This was a Texas Death Match, and man have we gotten some awesome Texas Death Matches in Texas from NWA Classics. Starts out with a pair of big dogs throwing hambones, Gordy's punches look great, although Williams didn't keep his wrists straight so they looked a little weak. My only complaint though, everything else about this was boss. Both guys bleed a ton, Gordy breaks out his all time great piledriver and Williams throws out the stampede. So great, worth a months order on its own

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Monday, October 19, 2015

MLJ: Blue Panther Lightning Matches 4: Blue Panther vs Negro Casas II

Aired: 2013-12-21
Taped: 2013-12-13 @ Arena Mexico
Blue Panther vs Negro Casas in a lightning match

I had forgotten that I had another Casas vs Panther match in here. The last one was really heated, this one, on the other hand, had a bit more of a heat segment, but was worked cleanly. Unlike the last, it had a non-draw finish, and even better, post match, the two clapped for each other, shook hands, and Panther raised Casas' hand.

I love old men Casas and Panther interacting. One of my favorite things I've seen in lucha from the last few years was when they were paired up in the parejas increibles tournament and Casas wrapped his arm around Panther on the way down as if they were the best of friends. Panther is a guy who was definitely hurt by the loss of his mask but he can portray geezerly grumpiness well.

Like I said, this one had a bit more focus than the others I'd seen. Casas had the advantage for a lot of it, taking over early by targetting the arm. Panther tried to counter repeatedly (like the below gif):

But Casas kept on things. He really gained an advantage with that keylock roll we've seen before, followed up by an armbar/headscissors combo. Panther kept getting out using more and more effort, but Casas just shifted positions. There was a commercial cut in here which seems a but superfluous in a lightning match, but it probably helped the focus since Casas had the advantage when they left and when they came back.

All of this built to Casas trying to lock in the Scorpion Deathlock (the arm control having been moved away from), but Panther blocking it by cinching up the cross-legged headscissors from the ground. They worked that for a few minutes, Casas going for a pin, Panther trying to flip him. In the grand scheme of things, it would have been great in the primera of a normal match. Here it was a bit much. It did build to a worthwhile moment, however, when Panther finally tossed him and hit a tope.

That led on to the finish, with Panther going for a Casita back in the ring, getting shrugged off, eating a low dropkick to his knee, and Casas utilizing his own Casita for the win. Panther was great fighting from underneath and all the more gallant in his loss. Another good one even if the pacing was a bit off.

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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Fire Fundraiser: Jim Breaks vs. Zoltan Boscik

Jim Breaks vs. Zoltan Boscik, World of Sport 3/8/75

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

This was a request from the lovely Matt D, who is forced under threat of punishment to only write about lucha libre, therefore leaving him woefully unable to document trippy Hungarian wrestlers from the 70s. I have never seen Zoltan before, but Breaks is a guy who any fan of wrestling should be familiar with as he's obviously the most well rounded and amusing of all the World of Sports guys. Breaks is kind of like if Michael Palin decided to get into wrestling instead of acting. He works a lot of great schtick, knows how to stooge better than all but a select few, yet also has awesome mat skills to go with his great character. He's great in his little moments of cheating, even better in his moments of frustration. Breaks getting worked up is always a great thing, complaining to the ref about imaginary cheating, acting like his shoelace is untied when it clearly isn't, sneaking in cheapshots (his short knees while holding a hammerlock was perfect). Breaks knows how to perfectly engage the crowd while locking on nasty cravates, knows how to feed into all of Boscik's fun armdrags and takedowns. I love Boscik's kip ups out of snapmares, and Breaks' increasing frustration at them. At one point he rattles off 4 or 5 snapmares and Boscik keeps flipping through all of them and it's glorious. All of the mat stuff is great here, and this kind of stuff is almost too hypnotic to me. I can just watch their awesome knucklelock struggles in an endless loop, locking on really painful knucklelocks, finding awesome ways to enter and exit those knucklelocks, looping legs over arms to shift leverage, wrists being bent awkwardly, fingers being manipulated, dickish snapmares into the ropes. All of it is great, all of it flies by too fast  (especially for a 6 round match). And it all caps off with a brutal Breaks Special. God the Breaks Special always makes me cringe, and the camerawork here was perfect, really showing him slowly bending Boscik's wrist allllllll the way back and under, into the Breaks Special. All of this was great.

Thanks for the suggestion/request, Matt! The others are coming up soon!

I am still raising funds for my co-worker Jan. I originally offered to match everybody's contributions, but at this point I believe I'll be matching contributions x2, or x3, maybe more!! And that includes EXISTING contributions. I want to try and get as much as possible to her, and while the fires are finally contained the suffering will continue for a long time. If you've contributed already, thank you. If you can't contribute or don't feel like it, I have zero ill will whatsoever towards you and hope you at least enjoy the writing that has resulted from the cause :)

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2015 Ongoing Match of the Year List

18. Biff Busick v. Andrew Everett PWG 8/28

PAS: I really enjoyed this. Busick is great as a bully against highflyers, he has had a series of good matches against Mike Bailey and this was in that style, Everett would hit some big time highspots inbetween Busick muderizing him with suplexes, clotheslines and uppercuts. There were point where it felt a little formless, but the big stuff was big. At one point Everett went back on offense with this leaping one motion backwards rana which was one of the prettiest highspots I have seen in a while, really shouldn’t have been thrown out in the middle of the match. Finish run of Busick offense looked awesome as Everett takes stuff so crazy that all of Busicks moves look deadly.

ER: Busick is so awesome. He's the perfect foil for flippers, especially fearless ones like Everett who have no problem getting obliterated by strikes. And Busick threw out some brutal strikes here, including the best clothesline I've seen in ages. I want someone to gif it so I can just watch it on a loop several dozen times in a row, like Buster Posey's grand slam off Mat Latos in the 2012 NLDS. Busick charges an unsuspecting Everett who turns right around into a nasty yet gorgeous falling lariat. Everett gets turned inside out and everything about it was perfect. Busick controlled much of this with nasty strikes and his great headlock choke (my favorite finisher of the year). I love the Busick headlock choke takeover. Everett would pepper in comebacks (including a real great Pele kick) but would always bite off more than he could chew, like a nutty Phoenix Splash that turned into a weird Phoenix elbow drop. Like the moment of Everett thinking he can go strike for strike with Busick, throwing nice right hands with Busick getting hands up, but it was always inevitable Busick would grab ahold of him, toss him with some nasty suplexes, and then peaking with him nailing an uppercut off a shooting star. I cannot even imagine the trust that goes into pulling something like that off. Good lord, guys.


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Saturday, October 17, 2015

2015 Ongoing Match of the Year List

8. Will Ospreay v. Mark Andrews PWG 8/28/15

PAS: This first round placed guys together who had worked each before or worked similar styles. It hurt a little on the dream match aspect of a tourney like this, but it did allow new guys to avoid awkwardness and show their stuff. This was a total blast, both guys are hitting very high difficulty flips and arm drags, I know my man Robert Bihari must have been losing his shit live, Andrews especially was just contorting his body in mid air with a variety of crazy takedowns, reminded of a taller Mascarita 2000, including one of the prettiest springboard ranas I have ever seen. Osprey was also really fast, and got crazy height on everything he did, his twirling kick looked like something out of a wire kung fu movie. Exactly the kind of opening round tourney debut showcase match you want to see.

ER: Well this was just absurd. Every so often you get surprised by guys, moving in ways you wouldn't expect. You had Blitzkrieg popping up as an unknown on Nitro, Low Ki and Red aping old Jackie Chan movies, and now Andrews and Ospreay doing movements that I couldn't begin to accurately describe. Andrews looks like Spud except does spectacular things, and Ospreay had some of the most rewindable kicks and flying that I've ever seen. We start with some stand exhibition-y mat rolling and armdrags and I'm beginning to wonder why Phil told me to go watch this. And then it starts to break down into all sorts of cool stop/start armdrags and reversals, and then we go flying full bore into ridiculous kick combos and nutty flying and strikes and slender men getting dumped on their heads. At one point I note that Andrews has a nice little thrust kick to the stomach, really treating it as more than a throwaway to set up another spot, but then I've forgotten about it moments later when Ospreay lands the most physics defying spin kick I've ever seen. As Phil said it's like Crouching Tiger come to life as Ospreay spins what seems like a dozen times in midair before landing with a knee to the back of Andrews had. Later Ospreay lands some insanely quick kicks to the face and head, making me die to see him vs. Bailey (or Busick!). We get a nutbar flipping DDT out of a northern lights, and couple vicious reverse ranas that look amazing - even in a fed where everybody throws out a reverse rana - with both guys SUWAing the other's rana, and some just flat out weird stuff like Andrews climbing the buckles, only to have Ospreay grab his head and tuck it behind the buckle before superkicking him through his legs. It's like he tied him into a Nieblina on the top rope and then kicked his face. Silly. Loved it. This really felt like something you could show your friend who doesn't ever watch wrestling, and then watch them lose their shit.


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Friday, October 16, 2015

MLJ: Blue Panther Lightning Matches 3: Blue Panther vs Virus

CMLL Guerreros del Ring on 52MX: 2013-05-18
taped 2013-05-12 @ Arena Coliseo
1) Blue Panther vs Virus in a lightning match

Another ringer of a match in the midst of this. I should be watching something more topical. Topical gets more hits, I think, but this is just a ten minute match and everyone should see it because it's ten great minutes. I think Virus might be the king of the lightning matches. He just has the perfect mix of matwork mastery and being able to pick up the pace. I wouldn't mind at all going through this exercise with him sometime as well.

The Casas match was personal. This was just business. That had momentum shifts and heated holds. This was worked differently, with exchanges and reversals leading to standoffs and resets. There were, I think, four distinct standoffs in the ten minutes. In that regard, it was sort of the best low stakes indy mat exchange imaginable. I'll take it.

As always, the small details are a joy to watch with these guys. Something as little as Virus going for a back elbow to halt a reversal and Panther turning it into a short arm scissors makes my day as much as any big spot. Likewise, the way Virus would try to control Panther with an elbow on his back. A lot of this was that control, just keeping two of the deadliest mat wrestlers in the world from getting an opportunity to do damage.

There's a ton of stuff I could gif, but let's go with this roll back keylock (Is that a keylock? Let's call it a keylock):

The match was pretty much ten minutes of that sort of thing before spiraling into yet another draw. Hey, the way I see it, we got ten minutes with them instead of eight and a finish. These lightning matches are more or less exhibitions instead of complete matches. Sometimes they're filler, sometimes they're a teaser to set up a longer match that was meant to draw. In general, it's best to take them for what they were meant to be (which is not always the way I think we should be judging wrestling; here though, it makes sense). As exhibitions go, this was a really good one.

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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Ring of Honor on Destination America 10/14/15 Review

1. ACH vs. Matt Sydal

This was awesome. Great fun. It was super spotty, but when all your spots work and they all look awesome, then shiiiiiiiit I can get into that. ACH starts with some fun wrist work and it does effect the rest of the match as from here Sydal switches to knees and kicks, and all of his knees and kicks looked gooood. ACH is freakishly athletic and can land in all sorts of crazy ways, really leaning into Sydal's baseball slide and going sprawling into the barrier. Sydal is no stranger to big bumps himself and both guys really bust out all the spots they know, ACH nails some nasty elbows, lands the punt on the apron (as well as an awesome rope running punt later to boot Sydal off the top), and ACH's screaming fast Fosbury Flop dive is just gorgeous. Both guys fly into the others knees on missed flying moves, ACH dumps himself on a reverse rana, and this was just tons of fun. Not much story to speak of, but when both guys have cool offense you can work a good "one-upper" type of show me match. Awesome stuff.

The Addiction and All Night Express have a spirited mic showdown, but neither team says much of anything. They speak in catchphrases, they don't stumble over words, they speak loudly and pointedly annunciate specific words in sentences, but they don't say anything. "Belts are still ours!" "ANX does it all night long!" There's a recap. Watching it took much longer.

2. Beer City Bruiser/Silas Young vs. The Boys

So apparently Silas won The Boys. This already feels like a major disappointment. Dalton wasn't out here causing a ruckus? This angle got way less gay and way more uninteresting way too fast. This match was fun though. Beer City Bruiser is an egg-shaped old Harley trainee, hits a nice elbow and a powerful dropkick, dumps one of the Boys with a nasty suplex. Another boy takes a nasty lariat from Silas. Short little squash, but good. I wish the Bruiser was on TV more. But man this is just so predictable and frustrating. Silas vs. Dalton with Silas himself volunteering to take the Boys, the simmering homosexual lust, all of it wasted. Castle not even running out fighting for his Boys is just unexcusable. Also, instead of a Tale of the Tape at one point there should have been a graphic with Silas Young looking into an ornate mirror, with Dalton Castle being reflected back. It would have been perfect. Dalton Castle, the man Silas Young is refusing to accept as his real identity, just staring back at him. If it was reflected in a truck stop men's room mirror it would have been even better. I'm so bummed they messed this all up. They could have easily just ripped off the Beecher/Chris Keller storyline.

3. Watanabe vs. Jay Lethal

Well, this was better than I expected it would be. I was expecting it to be terrible, but, tiny victories. Jay Lethal is just bad. He has terrible flimsy blowjob offense, offense that would be terrible if he were a babyface, except he's this awful HHH "have my title match masterpiece" performer now and so he wedges all this lousy blowjob offense into these awful touring champ main events. He does the 3 topes (which has now become a totally played out move. It's the Roll the Dice of 2015 indies) and the Lethal Injection is hands down the worst finisher in wrestling. Watanabe was fine here, liked his big suplex comeback, liked his senton, liked how he sold his back going into the barrier off the topes. Hated Lethal. So tired of Lethal main event epics.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Fire Fundraiser: Andre the Giant vs. Bam Bam Bigelow 6/25/88

Andre the Giant vs. Bam Bam Bigelow 6/25/88

So I had just watched the Hart/Andre match, and was going down an Andre rabbit hole, saw he wrestled Bigelow and then read further and found that this was supposedly an "infamous" match where Andre took "liberties" with Bigelow to "teach" him "a lesson" for having a "big mouth". Bigelow apparently stormed to the back, quit on the spot, and walked out. The timeline interestingly backs a possible story up, as Bigelow only worked one more match with the company and didn't return until 4+ years later. So looking at the timeline and it's somewhat plausible that something happened that made BBB skedaddle. If online results are complete he had a match against Hercules a month later, and nothing else in WWF until his return in 1992. So that is weird, as he certainly could have quit after the above linked Andre match, but then why come back a month later to work a house show match against Hercules? There's a story here, certainly.

My calls to both Bam Bigelow and Andre Giant have so far gone unreturned. I'll keep you posted.

And if you had no idea going into this that Andre "taught Bigelow a lesson" then I'd be surprised if you would even suggest any sort of lesson got taught by anybody. This seemed like a very much normal match. Andre looked like he worked much tougher against Bret Hart in a match I posted earlier, choking him constantly with his actual giant hands, and then just flattening Hart with an elbowdrop. Nothing he did to Bigelow in this match looked near as violent as that match ending elbowdrop he did to Hart.

That being said, CONTROVERSY ASIDE, I liked the match. Really, the only problem with it was Bigelow's offense, which at one important point looked...bad. I thought Andre looked good, liked the story they told, and really liked the announcers getting over Andre psychology (I believe we had Rodger Kent as the lead). Bigelow used his fun big man agility to dodge Andre, Andre threw a couple of really great punches, and Andre is a guy I don't remember having great punches. I'm closing my eyes and thinking, and I really don't remember Andre punching at all. Normally just big overhand chops. So the punches look great. And the headbutts looked great. And at one point Andre drops 5 straight bombs away butt drops on Bigelow. Bigelow gets a fun comeback nailing Andre with a huge shoulderblock which leads to Andre getting stuck in the ropes. And then for some reason Bigelow decides to throw some of the worst possible strikes to the prone Andre. It was like he couldn't decide whether he was throwing elbows, or a punches, or a shoulder blocks or...what. I don't know what he was doing. He did a lot of them, though! I would be interested in a Family Feud style "we asked 100 people..." question of "What was Bigelow doing to Andre in the ropes?" No matter what answer you gave, nobody on your team would go "Good answer, good answer!" They would all just stand there, silent, confused; not understanding what it was that they were supposed to be seeing. Meanwhile, while you were frozen in confused wonder at what Bigelow might possibly be doing, Richard Dawson just molested every female on your team.

Andre escapes from the ropes and Bam Bam's weird cuddle party, and locks on a bear hug. And this is when the announce team got good, as this is a LONG bearhug. A long one. Close to 4 minutes, and thanks to the work of both men and the announce crew I was not bored for one second of the bearhug. I also love bearhugs in wrestling, but I don't think my extreme bearhug bias was tinting my eyeglasses here. So Andre grabs Bam Bam from his knees, and the announcers do a great job of pushing it as Andre taking a knee for better leverage, which sounded like a great work around to Andre's physical limitations. Bam Bam put over the bearhug perfectly, and Kent went on to describe Andre's shifting grip strength, talking about how he kept locking the hands in slightly different places to keep shifting the pain on Bam Bam. Real smart stuff from Kent. Bam Bam breaks free but really doesn't get much of anything. He knocks Andre into the corner, runs into a boot (and really plows face first into that boot) and then Andre drops an elbow for the win.

It was a fun match, I enjoyed it, but really nothing in this looked like anybody was getting taken advantage of. It looked like a very normal match that a person would have with Andre. Read the youtube comments. No, really. It's filled with experts who "can tell" that something "is up". They can just tellllll that Andre is up to something. I assume they've never seen a Finlay or Stan Hansen match, as they would have hundreds of different theories about guys being taught a lesson. Andre's punches at the beginning were probably the meanest things in this, but they just looked like nice punches, not "stop bragging about your main event payoff" punches. I'm starting to think that sometimes....wrestlers maybe aren't completely truthful when relaying stories from the past.

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