Segunda Caida

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

Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Ongoing Match of the Year List

23. Corporal Robinson v. John Wayne Murdoch FWS 11/7

ER: This is a taipei death match where both guys have broken beer bottle glass glued to their fist and wrist tape, but really if you're hitting each other this hard the broken glass will be the least of your problems. They waste no time at all punching each other hard, and Murdoch starts bringing the unprotected headbutts. They immediately brawl to the floor and start cutting each other open in front of the only large group of children in attendance. They brawl all over and transition to new parts of the building by nasty strikes. Murdoch is good at moving the brawl to new areas, as he hits tons of headbutts and then stagger sells into somewhere new, falling over chairs, into fans, spilling over concrete; it's a nice change of pace from one guy grabbing another by the head and walking. Murdoch hits about 30 headbutts over the duration of this, and Corp holds back next to nothing on his punches. Both men hit brutal yakuza kicks on the floor, Murdoch dumps broken glass on Corp and hits him with the bucket containing the glass. Another time Murdoch got staggered back into a chair and blasted a charging Corp with a slippery when wet sandwich board. Ending gets silly with run ins, but didn't undermine the 10 minutes of brutal vicious brawling that preceded it. Both men got some big wounds and bruises on their face and head, and Corp shows off his battle wounds to the camera afterwards. He also shows off that he has the methiest teeth for a man with that large a belly.

PAS: This was pretty great, Corporal Robinson is still a nasty asskicker this many years later. I imagine doing security for ICP all of those year will really burn your soul down to an ember, I can just imagine the number of 17 year old meth head girls he had to bury in an rural Indiana sink hole over the years. Hadn't seen much of Murdoch before but he ruled it here, I loved all of his Terry Funkish weeble wabble selling, he looked like he wanted to get blood spots on every ring rats' t-shirt. There is this great moment where they are sitting on chairs exchanging shots, and Murdoch does this diving headbutt from the chair right into Robinsons mouth. Finish was pretty lame, but I want to watch all of this feud.


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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

IWA Mid-South Top 18 Matches, #11: Jonathan Gresham v. Tyler Black 5/16/10

#11 Jonathan Gresham v. Tyler Black 5/16/10

PAS: This was a juniors workrate match in its baseline form. Both guys looked fine, their execution was solid, and they had a couple of interesting ideas, but I have seen this sort of match so many times, that I could call the reversals and near falls before they were happening. Also Gresham is a little dude, probably about 5'6 and at no point did the size differential play into the match at all. Black towers over him, and they work it as complete equals. I can see why people liked this match, but for me to get into this kind of wrestling, something has to pop out, and really nothing did here.

ER: Boy I do not understand the placement here. There have to be dozens of these kind of matches throughout IWA's history, what stood out about this one? Phil beat me to the punch on the size difference aspect, as the announcers talk about how small Gresham is the whole match, but nobody told Rollins that. Phil's giving him a little bit of a pro wrestling boost with his guess as there is no way Gresham is an inch over 5'3", and even though Rollins looks like a behemoth next to him, AND had nastier looking offense, you have a a straight faced 50/50 match just worked in a total space vacuum. Big bump to the floor? No matter, get back in and go right back on offense. Match almost ends with a shooting star? No matter, you've recovered fine just moments later. Both guys looked good from an execution standpoint. They have cool offense. They worked a real impressively fast pace for 15 solid minutes. But they didn't make a single moment of it mean anything. Neither man ever had even a 30 second advantage over the other, both guys were constantly "in this thing", and moves were done until one move held a guy's shoulders down slightly longer than other, earlier moves.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

MLJ: Recent Uploads: Pierroth vs Hector Garza [Hair vs Hair]

2005-08-19 @ Arena México
Héctor Garza vs Pierroth [hair]

~1:45 in

I haven't looked at recent uploads in a couple of weeks, so I figured I'd see what decadas80s90s2000 had put up. He's been posting a lot of 2005-2006 Perros del Mal CMLL matches and they're all interesting and worth looking at, but it feels too big to wrap my head around. they're just those big, heated, high impact trios and atomicos matches, the stuff that makes up for the basis of Perro, Jr. getting into the WON HOF this year.

I decided to stop in on this one, which was embedded in a bigger show that he posted. It's an apuestas match. It has Hector Garza, one of my favorites, and the angle leading up to it felt really heated to me. I'll embed that too. At the end of an atomicos match, Pierroth and a legion of goons in his masks came in, made the Perros eat dog food and berated and beat the crap out of Perro, Jr. and Hector. It was quite the scene.

This was obviously going to have a low cap since Pierroth was pretty limited by this point, but for what they tried to do, basically a lot of bullshit, it was executed well. It felt very iconic, simple but effective, and it had the crowd, especially for the finish.

Once again, Pierroth came down with a small army of masked followers. This gives a bit of a sense of the chaos:

In the midst of all of it, Pierroth was able to get the first blows, including a surprisingly painful looking dropkick, before overstretching himself and going for a rana. Garza powerbombed him and then did it again, and then hit the most beautiful corkscrew moonsault for the very brief primera. I love the way that he arched back before hitting it. It was the ultimate little Garza gesture, a bit of grace to go along with his incorriglbe nature. That's what makes Garza so great, not the fact that he could hit stuff and was athletic but the way that his athleticism was married with his charisma. Everything worked towards a total whole:

The segunda had Perro, Jr. get involved, trying to hold Pierroth only to get moonsaulted by Garza for his trouble. It led to all sorts of BS with a Pierroth pin in the ropes and the match getting delayed for complaining. Lots of disruption but it sort of worked in this context. This wasn't going to be a bloodbath or a workrate classic, but all of this felt character driven and there was a level of belief and commitment from the wresters that made the crowd buy into it all.

The tercera was well enough worked for what they were trying to do. Both wrestlers had good facial expressions in the holds even if nothing was particularly smooth. And yes, it all stayed consistent, ending with that same sort of bullshit. Garza went back to the top. Commandante came out. Perro, Jr. nailed her in the skull with a blunt object. Pierroth tried to take advantage. Garza fouled him and stole the win. The crowd went nuts and post match, Perros del Mal held him for a probably completely racist head-shaving and humiliating headshaving ceremony. Again, the crowd loved it.

Nothing classic here but a plan full of smoke and mirrors well-executed. It's interesting to see a match like that out of CMLL now and again.

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Monday, December 28, 2015

MLJ: Sombra Spotlight 11: La Sombra & Volador Jr. vs Atlantis & Rey Bucanero [CMLL TAG]

2009-04-07 @ Arena México
La Sombra & Volador Jr. vs Atlantis & Rey Bucanero [CMLL TAG]

So yeah, it's probably good to watch until the end of a match before judging it. I thought I was going to end up writing something about diminishing returns and the frustration inherent with watching too much of a wrestler, especially in lucha, especially when they run the same sorts of matches week after week and in front of multiple audiences. Cubsfan wrote something recently about the frustration of CMLL thinking there isn't overlap in front of its crowds in what they watch.

This match was heading the same way. Yes, there are some common tropes in lucha. I talk about the structure a lot, but there's a huge difference between holding true to a primal structure that works and hitting the same exact specifics the same exact way. Obviously wrestlers can't twist things in every match or else eventually wrestling would become a self-referential mess, and there are always signature spots and counters and transitions, but there has to be a balance and it has to be consistent within the world that the wrestlers inhabit. Someone who's never used a powerbomb before trying to powerbomb Kidman is problematic. Flair forcing people into his spots can be problematic in the same way. Maximo using the same butt stop on the second rope as his comeback in most of his matches tends to work because it's easier to set up. Rey Mysterio, Jr. using the 619 tends to work because he is like a sharpshooter, working the move into his strategy. If people just haphazardly ended up on the ropes, it'd be different. GdI having their opponents' comeback almost always be on the second alley oop works sometimes and not others. It generally depends on the execution. They're such dicks and so arrogant that it's often believable, especially since it usually leads to them taking the first fall; why not do it again, even though it never works. It would be nice if they DID hit it once in a while. One of my favorite moments in watching wrestling was seeing Tully Blanchard hit a double axe-handle to a prone opponent off the second rope. Why? Because I've seen that move countered a thousand times by a babyface getting his feet up, but I'd never seen someone actually hit it before. Execution makes a difference.

Here, a tecnico advantage in the primera exchanges ended abruptly with a shot from a rudo knee on the apron off rope running. Then in the segunda, the tecnico comeback was punctuated by kicking Rey Bucanero into the ropes so he could eat Volador's dangling legdrop which was followed on the other side of the ring by Sombra hitting the split-legged moonsault. These were the exact elements that I saw in the previous matches, just repeated. The difference, though, made it all worth it. Towards the end of the match, they went for that spot again, with Rey kicked into the ropes. This time though, Rey caught him in a goofy combo and Atlantis got his knees up. The physical execution of this wasn't perfect, but the idea absolutely was. I love callbacks like this, within a match, between matches. It's the ideal opportunity provided by the 2/3 falls format. I really think we'd all be better off if more matches went that way. I watch indy tag spotfests sometimes and there's just this dropped moment after a big move where a pinfall would make so much more sense and would better control the sense of escalation.

Volador and Sombra kicked out at two from the reversals. That was a great near-fall because it was set up to be. In general, this was a solid match. The beatdown didn't live up to Casas/Heavy Metal and the action in general didn't live up to Casas/Felino but Atlantis and Bucanero showed a lot of character. Also, despite having a lot of support coming out, they were more traditional rudos. Bucanero especially seemed to get heat, which helped the emotion of the match. This one had me worried for a moment with going back to the same well but they were smart enough to switch it up. I do wish that Sombra/Volador hadn't dressed in the goofy mixed gear though. Even the announcers got switched up on who was who once or twice. The Sombra/Volador team really did lead to some strong matches.

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Sunday, December 27, 2015

We Need to Talk About Zumbido

Zumbido & Yuriko vs. Relampago & Hijo del Medico Asesino (FULL 6/18/15)

Remember Zumbido? I don't think a lot of people remember Zumbido. Certainly nobody talks about Zumbido anymore. Remember how good he was?? And how much you would smile when the announcers would call him Zumbidowski? I think a long time ago he beat up the mother of his children. I think he was also caught stealing diapers. I don't think I made up either of those things, but we're flying without a google net on those two facts. Both of those crimes easily could have been committed by Juventud or Ryan Leaf. But still, he may be a scumbag. My memory and instincts and internal compass tell me he is a scumbag. He looks like a guy who would be a scumbag, so the math checks out so far. But Zumbido was also one of my absolute favorite wrestlers for a time. And now he's a guy who nobody ever talks about. So I went on a little mini Zumbido rabbit hole to see if there's any particular reason people aren't talking about Zumbido. And using this one match as a sample size, Zumbido looked great in 100% of the matches I just watched. I would assume the reason people aren't talking about Zumbido, is because they don't care just how good Zumbido is if he's wrestling matches against roid slugs like Medico Asesino or Relampago, while working in front of 17 people. Fair points, those. BUT the important thing we learn here is that ZUMBIDO doesn't care if he's working in front of just 17 people, because he still wrestles like Zumbido. He looks great here. The match itself? Not great. Relampago is okay-ish if you squint, Asesino is bad, so he didn't have much to work with. But that didn't stop him from breaking out his blistering left hands and gorgeous overhand chops (Zumbido may still have the best overhand chop in lucha, rivaling LA Park), throwing beautiful dropkicks, his weird cannonball elbowdrops, and just a general sense of energy and excitement that nobody else was really attempting to bring. Yuriko is probably the most consistent Night Queen, but that's like ranking your favorite to least favorite jury duty summoning letters. Still Yuriko also has nice overhand rights (is a hearty overhand right the first thing they teach exoticos? That was a staple of Cassandro and Pimpi matches as well...) and breaks out a cool flip dive. S/He also hits some super sloppy ranas and takes forever to set up armdrag spots, but you expected this. Zumbido also breaks out a big flip dive and basically beats the hell out of the two slugs the whole match. The whole thing was a Zumbido show. Zumbido, who we don't talk about. Still a great wrestler, likely still a terrible person.

Zumbido & Scorpio Jr. vs. Alebrije & Histeria II (Leyendas Immortales 3/28/15)

This was from a much more well attended show, and Zumbido definitely works harder than anybody else in the match (though Guapito and Cujie do try). Scorpio is approaching certain load status, as he is tubby and looks like he can barely move. His Irish whips were an exercise in touching a man's hand and then watching them run all by themselves. Histeria I believe is Morphosis, and he doesn't do a ton here. Alebrije I believe is Kraneo, as I refuse to believe there is another active luchador who is that size, but I am not 100% sure as a certainly doesn't bust as much butt as he does on Arena Mexico shows. His brawling is there, but he's working about half speed and doesn't take any big bumps like he does in CMLL. Zumbido, though, busts ass throughout. He throws some mean left hands to everybody, including the referee, and at one point he throws one of the loudest overhand rights I've ever heard. I cannot believe he didn't get a receipt for that one. Zumbido hits a pretty senton, his big hang time plancha to the floor, all the strikes. Zumbido is still clearly a guy well worth seeking out on small time indie cards.

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Saturday, December 26, 2015

2015 Ongoing Match of the Year List

Rey Horus v. Steve Pain OWA 3/14

PAS: This is pretty much a Psicosis v. Rey Jr. for the 2015s, I am not sure either guy is a complete wrestler, but they dance together really well. Horus gets crazy, old school Gran Hamada height on all of his ranas and throws, while Pain gets whipped around in headscissors like Dick Togo. A lot of these exchanges feel like that kind of MPRO stuff, with even more speed and height. There are a couple of moments where Horus adjusts in midair, where he looks like a gymnast doing a rings routine. Some slow spots early, and the strikes should either be tightened up or removed, but this is a partnership really worth watching, and it is cool we got a nice singles between the two

ER: This did feel real exciting, while at the same time feeling like a tryout match showcasing all of your coolest rehearsed shit. But, when you got cool shit, you gotta show it off. Pain controls early and I really liked all of his flapjacks into strikes. Horus gets insane height every time he's tossed up in the air, and Pain is always there waiting with a kick or slap. Things slow down a bit in the middle and it's a clear calm before the storm, as once things kick in, they don't stop until the pin. Horus hits a wild dive and a huge rana to the floor, Pain SUWA's himself on tons of weird angle ranas and armdrags, Horus dropkicks so high he practically goes over Pain's head, Pain has even more cool moves involving tossing Horus into the sky and hoping for the worst, and yeah this ramped up into some awesome stuff.


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Friday, December 25, 2015

MLJ: Sombra Spotlight 10: La Sombra & Volador Jr. © vs Felino & Negro Casas [CMLL TAG]

2009-06-29 @ Arena Puebla
5 of 5: La Sombra & Volador Jr. © vs Felino & Negro Casas [CMLL TAG]

This was another solid title match, so long as you had the right expectations. Obviously, they're not going to work a 1984 opening fall. Sombra and Volador weren't quite there on the mat yet. There was going to be a nice combination of extended selling, big dives, and shtick in the tercera. The comeback was going to be a little haphazard in order to get there. It got time, though, and all the highs were high enough with the lows minimal. It was exactly what you'd expect from this pairing on paper and I came out satisfied.

Probably the biggest problem was the novelty of Pesta Negra. I've watched a lot of CMLL from 2000-2015 by this point and I think the primary story of that time would be the shift away from clear tecnico/rudo delineation, or maybe the rise of "cool" rudos. It started with Guerreros del Infierno, then La Familia De Tiujana, then Perros Del Mal, then La Pesta Negra, and Los Ingobernables. It's not that Pesta Negra was cool, but they were very entertaining, very prone to play to the crowd, and depending on who's in the ring, somewhat willing to eat their opponents alive. They came off as colorful folk characters and it certainly split the crowd. They were more straight up rudo than they'd be in years later so it muddied the waters a bit. Casas even played to the crowd on the house mic between falls. Ultimately, within this match, I think it was okay because the crowd is hot and chanting the whole way through.

It also played into the story of veterans vs less experienced but plucky fliers that shows up at a number of points. In the primera, Felino and Casas have a pretty strong advantage (and I thought the Volador/Casas matwork was quite good) until Volador hits a superkick out on Casas of nowhere. Unfortunately for him, he then immediately runs into Felino's knee when bouncing off the ropes. Later on, during the segunda, they keep trying to come back only to be unable to shift the momentum. It's not til they clear the ring together and hit tandem dives that they're able to do so. Then in the tercera, Sombra really has to survive one big Casas submission after another, and when they finally take the win, it's with roll ups out of nowhere.

Good dives, good action, good heat. I think I'll take a look at an Atlantis/Rey Bucanero vs Sombra/Volador tag match too but the verdict so far was that they were good foils for older rudos during this period.

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Thursday, December 24, 2015

IWA Mid-South Interlude: Dirty and Dangerous v. BAM BAM and The Beast

Dirty Dutch Mantell/Dangerous Doug Gilbert vs. Terry "Bam Bam" Gordy/Dan "The Beast" Severn (2/21/98)

PAS: What a bonkers line up, you have to love that this thing existed and shows up in a Youtube feed. This is the main event of the second Eddie Gilbert memorial and is the kind of sleazy brawl that IWA-MS perfected. Everything is a little ragged and off. Kenny Bolin comes in and eats two Severn suplexes for some reason, Buddy Landell is wandering around, Terry and Dutch brawl into the parking lot, Dougie appears to throw a fireball at a fan, Gordy has a weird looking barbedwire biceps tattoo just random awesome shit. Gordy and Severn would have made a great Miracle Violence 2000 in an alternate universe. Tons of fun, I love the shooting gallery Memphis period of IWA-MS way more then the rock house ROH period

ER: Sheesh thanks for the Christmas gift I never knew I wanted, IWA. I'd never heard of this match before it popped up (Phil also noticed the Eddie Gilbert memorial show the year before had a 20 minute Tommy Gilbert/Dory Funk Jr. match...I need to see a 20 minute late 90s Tommy Gilbert match). And this match is a hoot. Under 10 minutes, but chock full of asskicking and strange moments. Say what you will about brain damaged Terry Gordy but he certainly had zero problems shoot punching Dougie in the face a bunch. Sure, Gordy looks kinda spacey and lost when locking on a half crab, but he also lobs his knuckles at Dougie's nose about 20 times so who cares? Doug gets wickedly busted open, and it's clearly from Gordy and not a blade as it doesn't look like a cut, it looks like a crime scene photo after a bar fight. Doug knows how to dress for a brawl (and in fairness, it's probably the same way he dresses when he goes to HomeTown Buffet with his family) and gets dark blood all over his white shirt. Gordy also laces into Dutch early on, with both guys slamming into doors and brawling outside. Kenny Bolin gets suplexed by Severn, which is just so stupid and crazy. It would be like seeing some random dad at Costco getting suplexed by an Olympian. Dougie gets some nasty payback chairshots, Dutch whips Severn with his bullwhip, the head security guard looks like Travis Tritt's shitbag brother, Doug takes a hard double lariat from Bammer and the Beast, and yeah now I will always wonder who the hell took that fireball from Doug. It had to have been a person known to the crowd, as the guy was wearing a terrible early 90s satin-y vest and slacks, attempting to look somewhat professional compared to the crowd of Starter jackets and Louisville thrift store polos. What the hell, this fucking match!

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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Lucha Worth Watching: Early 90s Dandy/Panther and a Modern Rudo Dream Team

El Dandy vs. Blue Panther, early 1992?

I'm guessing this is early '92, just because of how each man looks, and Dandy has a buzzcut. Quick check reveals he lost a hair match to Satanico in December '91, and not another one until some time in '94, so I'm just guessing this is early '92 instead of late '94. And overall, this is non-essential work from both men. But it's also work that I don't believe was out there before, and watching two legends like this in any situation is a treat. Dandy was a marvelous athlete in his prime, and that was all on display in his floatovers, the way he worked in the ropes, his crazy high angle dive, flawless missile dropkick, the ease he pops up on headscissors, and then he'll surprise you by popping Panther with a headbutt from the apron. We only get 9 minutes, and we spend like 15% of it with Dandy locked into a surfboard lock that goes nowhere fast. Yeah, yeah things end with a tapatia, but it's not like Dandy's back and neck were bugging him much after that original surfboard. Panther's body looked exactly the same as it looks now, though I think his work now is actually better. Guy has things down and it's locked on gorgeous auto pilot. Now don't get all ruffled, I'm not using this match as a true representation of BP's significant greatness as from the footage we have we know he was already really great in the mid 80s (if UWA footage were available we could actually pinpoint when the greatness hit), just didn't have it as much here.

Kraneo, Hechicero & Terrible vs. Rush, Marco Corleone & Valiente (CMLL 11/3/15)

Okay, so this is kind of cruel, as I'm recommending lucha to watch, and here we have a lucha match that I don't believe it available online (yet?). This aired this past weekend on LATV, and was from a non-descript Tuesday CMLL show. But this seemed notable - even without it being able to watch by a majority of readers - because good lord look at that rudo team! This is the only time those three have teamed, and I can only pray that this is the first of many. Those are three favorites right there, not only separate, but they complement each other oh so nicely in a team. I assume their team name will be something like Fuck, Marry, Kill. The match is kind of weird as it's essentially worked as three matches, with the rudos vs. Valiente, Rush & Corleone vs. Valiente, and Rush & Corleone vs. the rudos. But damn that team of rudos. All three of them seem like guys who won't be pushed to title level for various reasons (some being that CMLL is just weird), so might as well team them up and let them go on a rampage. All three of them are total asskickers, so team 'em up! This is the first I've seen Hechicero in his new skull type mask, and he's kind of sporting a new look with some kind of strappy bodice/corset thing (there has to be a cooler word for "corset" if a guy is wearing it, right?) making him look like a sort of ripped Charly Manson, but with a cool mask instead of bad face paint and stringy hair. Kraneo breaks out his Alebrije skull mask, which is cool and more subtle than his garish skull/mohawk mask. Valiente is in full tiny neon green pants mode, getting closer to being naked every time I see him. He and Rush have matching neon trunks, but that is the only harmony shown by them during the match. Rush and Marco would hang out on the floor, leaving Valiente to the wolves, then come in themselves after the rudos tired out their fists beating Valiente. Valiente is now going full on sleazy early 80s Kevin Sullivan bodybuilding creep, and the trunks just keep getting tinier. Terrible justifiably beat the shit out of him for it. The money was in the Marco/Kraneo match ups, as Kraneo leans way into Marco strikes and Marco seems to tighten things up when working Kraneo. His big left hands in this match ranked among his finest ever. Kraneo is one of the best going at mixing up his cool strikes throughout a match. You won't find lame elbow strikes in a corner, he'll come at you in tons of ways. My favorite this match was him backing Marco into a corner, and instead of both men just lazily getting into position (something that happens so often that we tend to just look the other way, like traveling calls in the NBA), Kraneo drops a sick left body blow, big overhand right, and then a stiff front kick to back Marco in. How many times have you seen one wrestler just walk another one into an Irish whip? It's terrible. But you don't need to look the other way in case Kraneo takes shortcuts, because he just beats a guy's ass into the spot he wants him to be. Valiente eventually gets his comeback in the tercera, and hits a mammoth dive on Terrible. Marco and Rush work nicely as jackals; Hechicero was a little underutilized here, but I imagine he'd get more moments if this beautiful team keeps happening. I was hoping for more of him vs. Rush, since that's a super fresh match-up, but I'm sure we'll get there soon enough. This was all really good, and Cubsfan PLEASE get this uploaded, pretty please?

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

MLJ: Sombra Spotlight 9: La Sombra & Volador Jr. © vs Heavy Metal & Negro Casas [CMLL TAG]

2009-02-13 @ Arena México
La Sombra & Volador Jr. © vs Heavy Metal & Negro Casas [CMLL TAG]

I had mainly been gauging my Sombra viewing based on his singles matches. What I hadn't realized at the time was that he had a tag champion run with Volador. I decided to take a quick look what was available there and I'm going to look at three of these matches. Unsurprisingly, two have Negro Casas as he teams with his brothers. I am skipping the title change, which was an Averno/Mephisto match because there just isn't enough time in the world. This first one has Casas and Heavy Metal, who I like whenever I see him from this era. Volador and Sombra had their heads shaved and goofy matching strap masks.

I thought this was a blast. Everything from the rudos taking over to the comeback felt like a Steiner Brothers match in all the best ways. I've never seen Casas so brutally dominant and it was the presence of Heavy Metal that took it over the top. He was just a force in there, with clotheslines (corner and otherwise) that took guys' heads off, with a grisly sort of high-flying, with haphazard exploder suplexes and this insane top rope gorilla press:

And he seemed to wake a sleeping giant in Negro Casas, channeling his brother's intensity into a fine laser point. Let me just post a few more gifs of the brothers Casas mauling their opponents:

It meant that when the come back did happen (based on missed spots, including Metal missing a drop kick through the ropes that we barely see), it means all the more. The young high-flying tecnicos had gotten destroyed and now it was time for them to get revenge, primarily by leaping from high places down upon their opponents.

There was a little moment afterwards where Sombra was unable to hold the Northern Lights, but it was fine. Volador came over to help with the pin and it helped sell the damage.

The tercera was all action, but I sort of wish they revisited some of the Casas Brothers bruising from earlier in the match. That's where Metal hit his flip dive which was a very rough imitation of the one done earlier by Volador. There were a ton of dives in this thing, and all of the third fall selling you'd expect and some good near falls. I loved the way Negro Casas was hyping things up throughout:

Sombra would take out Heavy Metal with another dive, though (he'd get counted out), and Volador would reverse la Casita and hit one of his own, letting the tecnicos win the day. I really liked this. Maybe it could have used a bit more matwork to begin and another minute or two of absolute mauling, but it was about everything you'd want from mean veterans who could go vs plucky tecnicos who could fly.

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Monday, December 21, 2015

MLJ: Villano III Interlude 2: El Hijo Del Santo, Fuerza Guerrera, Villano III b Felino, Negro Casas, Shocker

1998-09-04 @ Arena México
El Hijo Del Santo, Fuerza Guerrera, Villano III b Felino, Negro Casas, Shocker

I ended up with an extra Sombra write-up last week as we needed content to keep the every day train going and my Monday review was the victim, so I'm filling the gap with another Villano III interlude. I realize I'm post prime here, with VIII in his mid-late 40s, but this is another one of those matches that hits a lot of marks: heel Santo, masked Shocker, tecnico Negro Casas, Fuerza Guerrera. Frustratingly, I feel like every rudo Santo match I watch has him on the verge of turning tecnico. I don't know if that's a footage issue or if he just spent half of his time as a rudo teasing the turn back.

Here, it was the key story of the match, but it played out interestingly. He went rudo, in part, because Casas, his eternal rival, had gone tecnico. In this match, there's a narrative of mutual respect between the two. While Santo doesn't show much affection for Felino or Shocker (and they show none for him), he seemed reluctant to allow for triple teams on Casas, even pulling him out of the ring at one point when he was getting double teamed. Later on, Casas returns the favor. He seemed frustrated by Fuerza and VIII, not wanting his hand raised with them after they took the primera. The finish of the match had Santo knock Felino off the top rope and ready to leap only for Fuerza to knock him off so he could hit the senton and steal the match.

You'd think in a match with so much story that the action might suffer. It really didn't. It did take up a lot of the primera, since it was a key element to the rudo beatdown, but Fuerza and Villano worked well together and Casas was tremendously over and is extremely good at garnering sympathy when put in a position to. The tecnicos actually came back in the primera in part due to Santo refusing to triple team. I'm well aware of it by now, but it's still amazing to see how different Shocker and Felino are in 2015 relative to 1998. Shocker, high flying and dynamic hit this amazing missle dropkick on Villano before he caught him in a power bomb for the fall (check out Fuerza's senton too):

The real joy of the match was in the brawling that followed, though. I'm not sure what got into them in this night, but Casas and Villano, especially, decided that they were going to pound the hell out of each other and it was pretty glorious. I said that this probably wasn't a great match to watch to get a sense of villano since it was so past his prime, but in lucha, wrestlers are viable into their 50s, and it's always interesting to see how they adapt after they can't go physically quite as much. VIII punching Casas in the face and eating his punches is a hell of a way to go. Casas still threw in the spin kick (and the Fiera wide spin kick which I'm not sure I've ever seen him do before), but he was brawling in a way that I've not seen from any other match of his, even apuesta matches, even the heated work with Rush.

People should check this one out for the well executed Santo story, but first and foremost for the Casas and Villano of them going at it. I'm excited to go back and watch some of those VIII apuestas matches now and some of his trios matches vs the Brazos or what not.

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Sunday, December 20, 2015

Lucha Worth Watching: Mask Matches and Family Feuds 10/12/15 & 11/8/15

Mascara contra Mascara: Molotov vs. Lestat, CMLL (10/12/15)

Two guys I don't watch that much, having a mask match. Lestat has been king of the mask match this year in Puebla, taking a mask just a couple months prior from King Jaguar. That's right. THEE King Jaguar. He's a Puebla undercarder, and Molotov is a CMLL undercarder who doesn't make TV that often but has shown improvement in the last few years. Lestat is clearly a Jeff Hardy obsessive, who potentially knows a guy who knows a guy who wants to push him to mask match glory. The match itself was poorly structured, but both men were clearly working hard. Lestat is kind of a slow motion Blitzkrieg, but worked in several fun swanton variations: a couple big ones from the top rope, a big one climbing the ropes, and tossed out a couple asai moonsault variations. The structure was all wack as we had several moments where a guy would take a big move, but then that guy would be on his feet first to deliver the next big move. It got kind of ridiculous after awhile. Lestat hits a big moonsault to the floor, landing on his feet, yet Molotov recovers faster and gets back in the ring to deliver a dive of his own. There were several moments like that. We also got a hilarious moment where Lestat yanked off Molotov's mask (Molotov had ripped at Lestat's in the primera), and Tirantes went to DQ him, and Lestat started begging and begging and getting on his knees apologizing to not be DQ'd (Molotov had won the primera so this would have meant Lestat's mask). It's a strange sight to see a tecnico doing something illegal and then begging the referee to not punish him. Who could get behind that kind of weenie?! When I was in 2nd grade, Mrs. Setterlund had a "punishment board" that was a physical three tier system of punishment. There were three levels: 1. Warning, 2. Lose a Recess, 3. Principal's Office. She had clothespins with all of our names written on them, and if you did something to warrant it, your clothespin would get moved from the "Not a Horrible Child" portion, down to the "On Warning" section, and so on. Since I was a constant chatterer, I would regularly see my clothespin moved into section 1 and 2, but never section 3. It usually took a LOT to get a visit to the principal's office. But one day I must have been particularly restless and got my clothespin moved down to dreaded section 3. And then I proceeded to run across the classroom and tearfully BEG to not have my pin moved to section 3. It was pathetic. I begged and pleaded and made promises as my mind rushed with all sorts of terrible things that would happen if my mom found out I had been sent to the principal's office. And eventually, Mrs. Setterlund relented, and I avoided further punishment, while I assume losing the respect of every single person of every age who witnessed it. And that was Lestat. Lestat was 2nd grade me. Crowds didn't want to root for 2nd grade me.

Also funny, is the longer the match went on, the more I felt like the lucha smoothness was hurting things. As in, both guys were trained a certain way. There was a certain slickness to their movements, that smoother lucha style. And I kept thinking that if this were worked in some garage but a couple of bad body guys in jean shorts, it would feel like a gritty war with tons of crazy spots and violent thud bumps. Not that Arena Puebla is a classy place, but it's an established professional arena, and the violence doesn't translate as well when done by guys in wide leg neon vinyl pants. I honestly think you can take this exact same match, hold it in a parking lot before a Raiders game, and have it between Shane Stevens and Shane "Gator" Stephens and suddenly I'd say "Man who the hell are these lunatics!?" But alas, it was not between two Shanes, and it had none of the drama of your good mask matches. Still, a man who you might not have known, lost his mask. This seems at least somewhat notable.

Dinastia Navarro vs. Dinastia Panther, All Elite 11/8/15

Alternate, more complete, but not as pretty fancam

Yay internet! I love family affair lucha matches, there's always a little added element of pride and the crowd gets buzzing for that familia atmosphere. It's structure is exactly what you expect, and it's goooood. Tons of matwork and grappling trade-offs in the primera, very short segunda with Navarros getting their submissions back, and a tercera that peaks with a beautiful dive and the two maestros squaring off. The mat stuff is predictably wonderful. Trauma I ends the segunda with his nasty indian deathlock into a violent twisting crescendo. Panther Jr. ends the primera by muscling Navarro to the ground and wrenching in a Fujiwara. BP and Trauma II go at it like men and the grappling is excellent. They both throw in little touches of professionalism, like BP slyly moving his leg away from Trauma's grasp moments before Trauma even blindly grabs back at the leg. Both lock on and slither out of nice indian deathlock variations but it doesn't feel exhibition-y, while it does feel nice and show-offy, seeing who can bust out freakier stuff. Trauma II is an absolute beast throughout this, being the only one who really laces into anybody with strikes, and BP Jr. pays him back at one point with an awesome ropewalk dropkick 3/4 of the way across the ring. Awesome spot. The Panther hits a super fast bullet tope to clear the ring, and we get the BP/Navarro showdown where they break out fun reversals and the gorgeous somewhat slower gracefulness of two masters comes into play. Navarro appeared slightly wooden in this and looked to have trouble bumping to the floor earlier, but it was clear he was saving his gas for Panther and I thank him for it. It wouldn't have taken much more for me to bump this up closer to MOTY list, just felt like it needed a couple more runs. Of the two videos linked, the top one is gorgeously clear, but has "down time" edited out. You get most of the action, but it's choppy. The second video is the whole thing, but shot from farther away, and the first 6 minutes are shaky and partially blocked by the referee. The first one you get a much greater sense of how hard Trauma II's shots are landing, and obviously all the mat transitions and work itself is so much clearer. The second video is a nice companion, as you get more crowd noise (and it appears to be filmed from a pro-Dinastia Navarro section) so you get a good gauge of how the crowd starts pro Navarro and by the end shifts to cheering both teams. I also includes what happens between the 2da and 3ra, which is mainly The Panther nicely selling the brutal T1 submission that took him out of the fall. For me, it made things mean a LOT more important to see Panther getting tended to, walking off his injury and gutting things through. Watch it, and thank the internet.

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Saturday, December 19, 2015

IWA Mid-South Top 18 Matches, #12: Mean Mitch Page v. Corporal Robinson 10/27/01

 #12 Mean Mitch Page v. Corporal Robinson 10/27/01

PAS: This is a house of horrors match with light tubes hanging like wind chimes from the ceiling, and multiple tables stacked with light tubes. Parts of this I liked but it just went too long for something this brutal. The Klein v. Necro match was great because it was a violent sprint. Something like this had a lot of moments of both guys lying around covered in glass and bleeding. Robinson has great punches and that made the parts between bumps look good, and the bumps were cool, but the whole thing needed to be compressed, and the they needed to end on the biggest bump, instead of both guys just sort of collapsing from fatigue and blood loss. It was a spectacle for sure, but I don't think it was a great match.

ER: I liked this a lot more than Phil. Necro/Klein is a violent ugly masterpiece and it's tough to compare other matches to it. This match set out to do something different and I thought it accomplished it well. It was long, it was violent, it was not compressed, it dragged it spots, and the finish was two broken men. And that's kind of what I loved about it. Klein/Necro was the fast violent sprint, this was the "every tool in your belt" shitshow. I liked that it didn't necessarily peak, but more maintained violence until neither man could really do any more violence. And it did go too long for something this brutal...but the thing is, those brutal things were ACTUALLY happening to these two, and they actually DID last this long. This was your endurance death match and they endured some ungodly punishment, some of it - unfortunately for them - some of it far more painful to them than it looks to the viewer. I'm not sure the best salesman in wrestling could accurately get over how much it must hurt to have your cut up body rolled through fiberglass insulation, or dumped in rubbing alcohol (although for general hygiene concerns, dunking these two in rubbing alcohol probably prevented some infections).
This match was billed as a House of Horrors match and yeah, lived up to that; light tubes, barbed wire, a wiffle bat with thumbtacks taped to it, the aforementioned kiddie pool of alcohol and roll of glass wool, plus a couple of tables covered in light tubes for good measure. The hanging tubes provide an awesome visual, but truthfully are completely ineffective while hung wind chime style, as they don't break while running through them, so they just clack around into each other. It must have taken ages to hang those things up, when all they ended up doing was clacking around and getting awkwardly yanked down by Page/Corp. So, we got weapons, and we got two guys who are each really good at brawling. Phil mentions Robinson's punches but I liked Page's brawling even more in this. His punches looked tighter and when he shook his fist out, I believed it. Their "through crowd" brawling was far better than most, with Page taking a sick bump into some splintery bleachers, and Corp giving him a couple guillotine legdrops on the bleachers. Both men take countless awful and nasty shots to the face and head with light tubes, which make me regularly cringe as you can just imagine dust and glass getting into eyeballs and cuts forming on top of cuts. Before long the ring is littered with thumbtacks and broken glass and just rolling into and out of the ring looks painful. By the end we've seen it all, Corp's face is covered in the darkest blood you've seen, Page has thumbtacks visibly stuck into his scalp, Corp has a giant cut lengthwise across his back, Page has taken a backdrop onto glass wool...and then we start blasting our way through light tube tables. The finish was unexpected, with both men not able to answer the bell, but it felt totally fine to me. Those shots were all real, and here were the two causes of that destruction, lying passed out in the rubble.

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Friday, December 18, 2015

MLJ: Sombra Spotlight 8: Felino vs Sombra 5: Místico & Volador Jr. vs Felino & La Sombra

2010-03-19 @ Arena México (Homenaje 2 Leyendas)
Místico vs Volador Jr. vs Felino vs La Sombra
Mistico vs La Sombra (mascara vs mascara)

3:35 in

This was a perfectly acceptable main event for one of CMLL's big shows of the year. It was however, somewhat disappointing as the match where Felino lost his mask. I had gone back to Cubsfan's news/comments from the time, and there was a sense that while Felino wasn't going to let this stop his career (and it's funny that Cubs posted he thought Felino could easily still be active five years later as he'd refound himself as part of Pesta Negra), he would have preferred a singles match. I would have too. Here's the quote from him about that:

"While in Guadalajara in Tuesdya, Felino did interviews about the mask match. Felino doesn’t feel like he’s close to retiring – if this was a four way with “Tony Salazar, Ringo Mendoza, and Pierroth”, he’d feel that way – and instead thinks it proves he can still go with the young guys. Felino knows he’s the underdog, but believe his experience outweighs any edge the others might have in youthful athleticism. Felino says that if he were to lose the mask, he would take it off with great pride and dignity and not try to hide, nor retire right after. Felino still would’ve rather had the one on one match."

Like I said, though, this was a perfectly fine main event. Adding Mistico to something like this only heats things up. The outcome wasn't really in question, save for some backstage stuff about Mistico's potential future. The front half here was good, worked more or less as a straight tercera of a tag match. Volador and Sombra made a solid high flying unit and Mistico and Felino worked well together as straightforward rudos. They did a little bit of heat, did a quick comeback, set up giant moonsaults off the same turnbuckle to the floor from Sombra and Volador, set back up Mistico vs Sombra some needless backflipping, some more than welcome mask ripping, some revenge mask ripping by Volador, and then a giant Mistico tornillo. All good action which, if you're not going to get heavy heat, is the way to go in something like this.

One thing that the CMLL style of lucha does not get enough credit for are the callbacks and build, not just in matches (and it's easy to do that in a three fall match) but from week to week. Dave Meltzer recently did a big play by play review in the Observer of Kamaitachi vs Dragon Lee and while he praised the action and gave it a high star rating, he overlooked so much of the psychology because it was built on their previous encounters. In that sense, I am glad I went back and watched the build to this. For one thing, it made the way Sombra at the fall so much more interesting. Felino had him primed for the elbow drop off the ropes, but Mistico picked him up for the michinoku driver to steal the fall. This paralleled Felino stealing the fall from Mistico in the previous trios. It drove a wedge between the two of them, who had been working so well before and led to Mistico kicking Felino in the head after taking a tag. That was supposed to set up Volador pinning him and the DUELO FINAL between Felino and Sombra, but they gave it one extra twist I didn't like. After the kick Felino set up for a Razor's Edge/Splash mountain and ate a 'rana reversal for the pin. I would have liked it a lot more if Volador just hit him with something after the kick. It would have punctuated it better than Felino still trying a move.

For the singles portion of the match, the callbacks really helped. They only had one fall to get things over so being able to call on previous matches was huge in getting over certain nearfalls. Case in point was Felino's catching of Sombra's flying rana attempt and turning it into a power bomb. That's how he won a fall on him in a previous match. If you knew that coming in, it became a much more potent near-fall. People who just hop from hyped great match to great match miss so much with lucha. Unfortunately, they went to that in the ring after they had already done something similar on the rampway. If they had switched the order of those spots it would have worked better, because it almost felt like it reversed the escalation. They also used the feet-up counter to the split-legged moonsault, which was a big transition in a previous match, so thus meant more here. Moreover, after the big splash mountain reversals, Felino actually hitting one was the best possible near-fall.

In the end, of course Felino was going to lose his mask, but the finish was appropriate to the match and very respectful of the family's move. He was great post match, really owning the moment of taking his mask off. And yes, he's still going now. This was a perfectly fine main event for a big show but by its nature, it couldn't have the sort of heat and hatred that you'd want out of match that cost a guy like Felino his mask. Sombra certainly had come a long way though.

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

MLJ: Sombra Spotlight 7: Felino vs Sombra 4: Felino, Místico, Negro Casas vs La Máscara, La Sombra, Volador Jr.

2010-03-12 @ Arena México
Felino, Místico, Negro Casas vs La Máscara, La Sombra, Volador Jr.

This was more of the same as the last trios, just with Mascara in for Dorada and Mistico in white. It was on the road to him going tecnico again, which I think was a shame. The neither rudo nor tecnico thing had its issues but they could have run with it for a few more months at least. You got the feeling that Mistico was relishing in the role. Still, this was a solid trios that juggled a lot of balls (starting the go home for Felino vs Sombra, furthering Volador vs Mistico, with the double turn coming, and even setting up Dorada vs Casas somewhat as they had a lot of title matches around this period).

I liked how the tecnicos were ready for the ambush here, staring down Felino and Casas on the ramp only for Mistico to come out of the crowd and ambush them anyway. It led to a pretty vicious beatdown with a lot of highlights, including Mistico doing a double stomp with Volador hanging off the apron, which I'm not sure I've seen before, and then power bombing him into the guardrail:

and then powerbombing Mascara onto Sombra on the rampway.

It was another case of Mistico just being a dick to everyone. Sure he's the tecnico who drove the last boom but he was really born to be a rudo. Just about everything we actually know about the guy seems to call for that. Anyway, they gave this a wrinkle and let the tecnicos come back, punctuating it with a triple dive before taking the fall and an awesome Volador revenge power bomb onto the guardrail after it, paralleled revenge spots being one of my favorite things about lucha:

They more or less reset in the segunda, running through the pairings and having Mistico dodge Volador dickishly. They'd ramp up the heat here through the fall, culmanating with mask ripping before the rudos took it out of nowhere.

The tercera began with Mistico hitting his falcon arrow and Casas being just amazing vs Mascara:

before they finally paid off Mistico vs Volador, starting with Volador sneaking up behind him, probably the best thing I've ever seen him do. It was as fast paced and manic as ever and set the pace for the tercera and the end of the match:

The spots came quickly, well paced and well executed as they cycled through combatants all leading to the great moment of Mistico hitting the low dropkick but Felino darting in to lock in La Mistica and steal the win from his partner. Casas was amazing in the celebration as Mistico walked away disgruntled, helping to build heat to the elimination match at Homenaje 2 Leyendas as it'd be Sombra vs Felino vs Mistico vs Volador, with the two eliminated fighting for their mask. Another fun, functional trios from these guys. Sombra felt more or less fully developed a a high-flying tecnico trios worker by this point, far more so than Mascara, for instance.

Also, this happened:

Felino had his followers I guess?

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

MLJ: Recent Uploads: Hijo del Santo y Octagon vs. Fuerza Guerrera y Negro Casas (Juarez)

Hijo del Santo y Octagon vs. Fuerza Guerrera y Negro Casas

We live in blessed times. This popped up yesterday and has 38 views so far. 38. I'm looking at this mainly so that more people can see it. It's not on the match finder. Really, I don't see any sign of Octagon and Negro Casas on opposite sides there. I am cautiously excited about more matches popping up from Juarez on this youtube channel but I know nothing about this otherwise. It's got about everything could want out of this sort of footage: lots of different camera angles, relatively high video quality, a full crowd hot for it. I don't know what the stakes are. I don't know when this was. I know nothing, but it was sure fun.

Everyone was good here. Octagon was less good, but still had some great foils to work with. I'll get back to that in a minute. They cycled through pairings throughout the match, everyone getting to work with everyone else a lot. There wasn't a ton of heat as this was more of a traditional tecnico showcase but the rudos were able to keep up and look strong. They'd control the start of an exchange with something underhanded and then end up getting out-wrestled. This had a long primera, a shorter segunda with a bit of heat, a pretty much non-existent comeback, and a lot of action in the tercera, with a few dives and chaos (down to a very chaotic finish).

Fuerza and Octagon did their part but it was Santo and especially Negro Casas that really stood out. Casas is one of my favorite wrestlers ever and I was still a bit surprised by just how good he was here. It's a shame we don't have more of him against Octagon because it was a great pairing. Casas oscillated between Memphis-level stalling (which was extremely effective at getting Octagon's strikes over as dangerous) with heavy-rudo antics (like asking for a test of strength and just walking up with a killer uppercut or goading Octagon to the mat with a second one and then dropkicking him in the face). He was also able to carry a mat section with him. Fuerza and Casas were pretty much made to feed tecnicos, but Casas was so emotive here, stooging and selling and posturing and making everything feel like it mattered. Basically, he out Fuerza'ed Fuerza, which is a stark contrast to the way someone like Blue Panther would retreat within himself when paired with Guerrera.

Santo really brought it too. Occasionally, he works this bully-styled aggression into his work, the sort that you'd get out of Bruno or Hogan. It's just human nature. Each and every one of us, deep down, want our heroes, even the purest of the pure, to have a mean streak. It came up here now and again, with a brutal Belly-To-Belly I've never seen him do before, with a great short clothesline, with a few wrenching submissions (and did Casas ever sell the pain of them!)

Like I said, everything sort of fell apart in the end, but at least it all fell apart in novel ways. Watch this for the lengthy, mat-driven primera and for the classic pairings and to see Negro Casas closer to his prime and at the height of his power (which is saying so much). Watch it to see him match up against Octagon. It's good stuff and hopefully we get more of the same soon.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

With Right, Left, Right Left You're Toothless, Then You Say Goddamn Dragon's Ruthless

Super Dragon v. Excalibur PWG 5/13/05 -GREAT

This was an impromptu Guerrilla Warfare match which was started after Excalibur turns on Super Dragon and takes responsibility for the fake Super Dragon who had been attacking Dragon at previous shows. They have a pretty nasty prop garbage match, it doesn't have the frenzied brawling of the best Super Dragon fights, but it does have some especially nasty spots. Especially nasty was Excalibur getting curb stomped with his head between a ladder which looks like it might decapitate him, and Super Dragon taking some gross chair shots to the top of the head. Excalibur does a nice job looking vicious despite not having the best looking offense. Finish had the fake Super Dragon run in and unmask as Steen, and both he and Excalibur beat up Super Dragon and Excalibur ended up pedigree piledrivering SD through a table (which broke first and end up looking nastier.) Kind of a BS WWE PPV finish, and Super D wasn't as much of an asskicking tsunami as the best stuff, still if you want a couple of guys totally die on bumps this was pretty great.


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Monday, December 14, 2015

MLJ: Sombra Spotlight 6: Felino vs Sombra 3: La Sombra, Máscara Dorada, Volador Jr. vs Felino, Místico, Negro Casas

2010-03-05 @ Arena México
La Sombra, Máscara Dorada, Volador Jr. vs Felino, Místico, Negro Casas

6:00 in

This is why I can't be allowed to do career retrospectives, or really anything with too broad a focus. It made sense to look at Felino vs Sombra as that felt like Sombra's first big singles feud in CMLL, at least that we have footage of online, and there were three definitive singles matches, all different in format, with the last being an apuestas match, surely the biggest of his career up until that point. Then I decided I liked the pairing and in order to appreciate the apuestas match I should look at the trios match that made up the build even though I pretty much knew how it was going to go. Beatdowns, mask-pulling, revenge mask pulling, challenges. It's the CMLL build.

Still, I wanted to look, for Felino vs Sombra, sure, but also because it'd let me tackle a few things from my previous 2010 watch, most specifically rudo Mistico. Also, while most of the weekly TV is online for the year, it's very hard to search for. You pretty much have to know what you're looking for or go through the match finder. For that reason, pulling out matches theoretically has a purpose. Also, it's just cool to see Mistico and Casas teaming as rudos, even if this was the road to Mistico going tecnico again.

He was billed as neither rudo nor tecnico here, but was also in red with the horns. I'm not the world's biggest Mistico fan, but I really enjoy rudo Mistico from this period. He wrestled like a bully. For one thing, while he was feuding with Volador, he didn't differentiate. He'd beat the hell out of anyone he was in the match with (and on comebacks feed for anyone). It made his matches seem more unfocused but also more chaotic and less orchastrated. He'd also wrestle 'bigger' than he was, including gleefully utilizing a press slam falcon arrow thing, which no guy his size should probably be doing. So long as he was playing a rudo bully, it worked. More on that for the finish of the match.

Volador was feuding with Mistico. Sombra was feuding with Felino. They were building to singles matches (and eventually to the Volador/Mistico double turn). Casas and Dorada were just there. The point of the match then was to keep heat on the feuds and then to give the tecnicos the shine at the end. So they went with the rudo ambush to begin, Casas mainly playing crowd control as the other rudos got to focus on their opponents. The beatdown was wild enough that the camera had a hard time catching the right thing. We'd get the last second of Mistico slamming Volador into the post or Felino diving off the ropes as Casas held Sombra for him. Everyone got some individual focal time on the rampway. This all ended with Sombra getting propelled over the top rope from the ramp into the a Felino foul in the ring, and losing his mask immediately thereafter (at which point Casas casually stepped on him before doing a cartwheel). When the rudos have a long beatdown and lose the fall by DQ in that way, it's often a sign that things are just going two falls.

That was the case here. The tecnicos finally came back (though it wasn't a very clear thing. We had yet another wasted Volador stage dive. It's one of the most spectacular spots in the company and he wastes it in almost every match. It drives me nuts. If you're going to dive off the stage on your opponent as part of a trios comeback, make that the key moment of comeback. He almost always gets beaten on again afterwards). Anyway, all of this led to the dives clearing the ring and Mistico fighting against Sombra and Volador, both at once. They had come out with matching ski masks and actually felt a little like the Misterioso/Volador, sr. team to me. This felt like the main event bully against the up and coming team, and was worked as such. Mistico really held his own believably but fell to a tandem Spanish fly. It was one of those exchanges where everyone came out looking better than they came in though.

Post match there were the expected challenges. This was good. It let the tecnicos get over, but only in part because Felino had been so nasty with the foul and the mask ripping on Sombra. It let Mistico look like a world beater but Volador and Sombra still had the rub of beating him through working together. Since Sombra was going to ultimately go over Felino, this let him have a win and look strong so that Felino could get the next couple to build heat for the match. Good, functional stuff.

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Sunday, December 13, 2015

WWE TLC 2015 Live Blog

1. Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch

ER: They start with this ugly, endless sketch where Team BAD sing a terrible, cringeworthy 12 Days of Christmas rendition that....I'm not sure what was supposed to be accomplished. Was it to get Banks booed in her hometown? Who is the heel in this though? You have a hometown heel who the crowd wants to cheer, who then is forced to do an unfunny and unprepared segment to start the match, and the crowd is then just left quiet. I love the early armwork and loved Becky's ankle pick on a Banks leap frog. We hit the Banks transition and Lawler says that Banks has controlled the whole match, even though literally the exact opposite thing has happened the whole match. The facials Banks makes in between moves is great. She knows how to shit talk and make great cocky faces. I love when she shit talks mid-move and it blows up on her, like slapping Lynch and talking shit leading to her getting blasted with an elbow. Her crossface submission looks good and I liked Lynch fighting up out of it, with Banks trying to stomp the backs of her knees. Match as a whole didn't do a whole lot for me as I didn't care much about Lynch's comebacks.

2. Tag Title Ladder Match: The New Day vs. Lucha Dragons vs. Usos

ER: This starts off immediately fun with guys taking bumps to the floor, and Kofi and Kalisto doing stereo springboards onto either side of a set-up ladder. Dragons hit sloppyish moonsaults to the floor, and Usos do a stereo dive into all guys, while the guys on the floor shield themselves with a ladder. Somehow diving into a ladder doesn't hurt the Usos, it only hurts the guys taking the dive. Big E and Kofi trap an Uso in a ladder in the corner, and do all sorts of violent chokes and strikes to him, capped with a Kofi running dropkick. The other Uso gets suplexed onto the same ladder. Kalisto hits a nice bombs away over a ladder, and Sin Cara does a nice cattle branding with a ladder, then does a balls out nuts swanton to the floor onto a ladder with both Usos underneath. Daaaaamn. Oh shit, Kalisto climbs the ladder with Big E under it, and E starts fucking BENCH PRESSING the ladder while Kalisto climbs, so the ladder is tilting and at a 45 degree angle while Kalisto bails and flies into the Usos. Crazy visual when they cut to the wide shot to see E lifting that ladder. Kalisto does a 450 onto the Usos under a ladder, after being vaulted into it by a Sin Cara monkey flip. Jeez. And then he tops is all by hitting his sliced bread finisher off the top of one ladder, through another ladder set up horizontally. And then Sin Cara hits a springboard swanton. Lucha Dragons could get over huge after this match. An Uso hits a frog splash from the top through a ladder with E underneath. Aww shit Xavier throws his trombone at Kalisto!! Damn he really tossed that thing at him hard. Fun crazy match. Could be a star making performance from Kalisto if they choose to follow up on it (har har har). Not only were his spots crazy, but he did a good job of making his set up strikes and everything looked good. His punches while balancing on a ladder were especially impressive, and when those look good then doing your crazy finisher off the top of the ladder is just going to mean more.

3. Rusev vs. Ryback

ER: I love a big hoss match, but for much of this it felt like they were trying to do spots where two big lugs crash into each other, but they weren't making those spots look very impressive. I get how to huge dudes trying and blocking each other's suplexes could look cool, but it just looked like two guys taking turns hopping into place. The stuff that looked best (Rusev's chokes) got deemphasized quick, in favor of "Ryback agility spots" like his middle buckle dropkick and his crossbody. The Ryback agility spots seemed way too out of place in this, and Rusev came out of this looking bad. We had a match where Ryback took 80% of the action, then Rusev only permanently goes ahead by Ryback getting stalled by Lana AGAIN, and then Rusev hitting his nice superkick. Lana is fucking great at her part, but man they did Rusev no favors here. But really they've been doing Rusev no favors for almost a year now.

4. Chair Match: Jack Swagger vs. Alberto Del Rio

ER: Boy a chair match seems impossible to pull off under their PG rules. Feels like a match that has a chance to be violent, but is hard to make look violent to the fans unless the guys just actually get hurt. I can appreciate how nice Del Rio does worked shots to the stomach and throat, but fans like hearing and seeing big meaty thwacks. Swagger taking a chair to the throat off a Vader Bomb attempt looked great and was almost missed by the cameras. Del Rio throws about a dozen chairs on Swagger's body, and Swagger terribly sells this by acting as if he were unconscious. He doesn't even flinch for ANY of the chair throws. Just lies there, breathing heavily, getting chairs thrown at his body. Give me a little writhing, a little AGGGGGGHHH, I don't care if it's cartoonish, make me actually think you're getting hit with fucking chairs, because DUDE, you're getting hit with fucking chairs. It doesn't matter as a minute later Swagger is back in the ring hitting Del Rio with chairs. Del Rio returns the favor by being in the Patriot Lock for an eternity and immediately not giving a shit about it once he's out of it. Man this blows. Swagger has taken nothing but chairs to the body, so naturally keeps trying to do his Swagger Bomb with his battered body. ADR at least set up the corner stomp spot nicely by trapping Swagger in the corner and beating the shit out of him. The visual of Swagger getting stomped into chairs looked good. ADR immediately sells his ankle for the first time right when the match ends. Little of this meant anything to me.

5. Elimination Tables Match: Wyatt Family

ER: So they're doing individual eliminations, which means we should be getting a bunch of bodies through tables here. I thought Rhyno looked really good in the Raw multiman, and he and Strowman looked like they were lacing into each other. Harper and Bubba were throwing big blows too. Once things spill to the floor and table spots start getting set up, the match gets pretty boring. There were a couple decent individual moments, like Dreamer and Bubba going nuts on Strowman with kendo sticks, and then burying him under tables. Harper looks really good throughout, and his big man tope putting Dreamer through a table looked good. Bubba setting up the lighter fluid spot gets the crowd to actually make noise, and then in a hilarious fuck you Harper hits a nasty superkick to Bubba's throat and Strowman puts him through the table before it's lit. So the Wyatts ran through Team ECW, which is what should have happened, but the match wasn't very good.

6. Kevin Owens vs. Dean Ambrose

ER: Owens controls a lot of the start, but he's good at it, good at standing on Dean's throat and tossing on a snug side headlock, nice back elbow, then also flies into Dean's back elbow and gets rocked over the top with a lariat. I loved Owens scouting the Ambrose 360 lariat and catching him, then tossing him into the barricade with a fallaway slam. These two seem like they match up well on paper, but none of their matches have worked for me. You think Owens is a nasty asskicker, and Ambrose is a scrambly babyface with great comebacks, but nothing ever gels to make their matches against each other memorable. Both guys can have better matches against inferior opponents, than against each other. I like the rana out of the powerbomb finish, but the build within their matches just does nothing for me. Both men do spots, but none of the moves each guy takes ever causes either man trouble when trying to hit offense, it just feels like filling time.

7. Paige vs. Charlotte

ER: So I also don't get who is the heel here. Charlotte is a face acting like a heel who will do anything to win, and Paige is acting like a heel who should be a face. Sounds like another combination that will equal a quiet crowd. And jesus do they still think toting her father around with her is hoping Charlotte get over? They've been doing it for fucking months now. Flair gets a reaction, but it just acts as a constant visual reminder that Charlotte needs a LOT of help getting over, like they're afraid of her reaction if not with her father. But the reaction WITH her father is hardly there. They are still desperately constantly saying Flair is her father, she learned from the best, because her father is Flair, she's just like her father, who's 16 time world champion Ric Flair, blah blah blah. It's not making a difference. Charlotte aping Flair spots is just brutal. Charlotte seems like a natural heel, but the Flair spots are just so bad.

8. TLC World Title Match: Sheamus vs. Roman Reigns

ER: Boston crowd immediately distracted with Cena chants. Reigns' mounted elbows looked really good. Sheamus gently tosses a ladder into Reigns. Reigns feebly bumps into the barricade. Both guys are moving startingly slow for the first minute of the match. Sheamus takes a nice backdrop bump over the barrier because Sheamus always takes big bumps. And match starts to get good when it's based around Sheamus taking wild bumps. He sprawls through tables and set-up chairs and tables set up on chairs. He gets a big scrape on his arm and the deep red looks cool against his pale skin. Sheamus always bruises up well. Chair shots start looking more nasty, Reigns throws some nice rights, Sheamus hits an awesome lariat after luring Reigns in to do the apron dropkick. Sheamus does a huge White Noise through a table and Roman ends up grabbing Sheamus' foot getting back in the ring. Sheamus does this great look of disgust at Reigns. All of Reigns' punches and strikes look good in this. His superman punches have been on point. Sheamus takes a couple crazy moves onto and through ladders. One to the floor was sick. Reigns takes a super ill-advised bump off the ladder into the ropes, reaching his leg out for the ropes for some reason, like he was actively trying to tear an ACL. But then Reigns runs up the ladder with a superman punch that sends Sheamus flying off the ladder into a table. That looked great. ADR and Rusev run in. Rusev sells the superman punch really great, dropping to his knees and face planting. Match itself was really good and violent. Reigns flops again when faced with obstacles, but both men matched up really nicely. It's the kind of thing that works better in a vacuum, as the crazy violent spots come at the end of a night filled with crazy violent spots. Everybody wanted their spots to look violent, and while I think the ones in this match were more violent than most of the others on the show, it still feels silly to have to think "was that the best or the 6th best table spot we've seen tonight?" HHH comes out and leans about as far out of the superman punch as possible. Reigns threw like 6 superman punches in the match itself, and they all looked great and everybody went face first into them. So leave it to HHH to bump 3 feet early when it's his turn. Stephanie always seems to be making the wrong faces, like she doesn't understand actual human emotion. Roman throws some more nice rights and HHH takes a powerbomb into an announce table. The long build up of HHH being helped up by tons of officials while Reigns walks away, into Reigns sprinting back to spear him was awesome. Sheamus has been selling for like 8 minutes.

So, I liked the tag team ladder match and the main event. That's two more matches than I liked on the last PPV so there's an easy step-up. Still didn't feel like a great show, possibly didn't feel like a good show. I'm almost always left feeling like a specific match should have been better. That's a feeling that's been with me for months now concerning WWE, seems like every match should just be better. Sometimes it feels like the fed is actively working to have the matches not be better. Is this just me?

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Saturday, December 12, 2015

Super Dragon is the Motherfucker that You Read About

Super Dragon v. Kevin Steen PWG 8/6/05-GREAT

This is a Guerrilla Warfare match and the match that set the standard for brutality in the gimmick. I loved the opening 10 minutes or so of this match. Steen had been coming out in a Super Dragon costume to taunt Dragon in the set up to this match, and this was almost like Super Dragon v. Super Dragon, with both guys just exchanging nasty backhands, and awkward thrown chairshots. Steen was trying to beat SD at his own game and the reckless brawling was really compelling. The second half of the match brought it down unfortunately . You had one guy set up his opponent for a brutal garbage spot, only to get a kickout, and then they would go set up another big garbage spot only to have the tables turned. There was some truly sick stuff here, package piledrivers onto thumbtacks, slams through barbed wire boards, Steen getting handcuffed and chairshotted, but it just took too long to set everything up. It felt less like a fight and more like a CZW death match tourney final. Still had lots to love, but this was a step below the best Super Dragon brawls.


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Friday, December 11, 2015

Dick Togo is O-Dog in the Courtyard

Dick Togo/Hanzo Nakajima/Koji Kanemoto/MEN's Teiho/Shinjiro Ohtani v. Norio Honaga/El Samurai/Great Sasuke/Super Delfin/Gran Hamada NJ 3/5/97-GREAT

This is a fun MPRO ten man which nicely mixes in a bunch of NJ guys. KDX adding peak dickishness Kanemoto and Ohtani is a wonderful fit, they were running around slapping people, face washing folks, sneering looked like that is where they always belonged. Togo and MEN's run through there stuff, with Togo breaking out some super fast exchanges with Delfin that really stood out.  On the face side, we got some fun crazy Sasuke, and Hamada and Delfin did what they do in these matches. I did think Samurai and Honaga didn't add much, this could have used Yakashiji throwing crazy arm drags. That and the two straight falls is what kept this a little below the classic ten man matches of this period. Still the MPRO KDX ten man is one of the great things in wrestling history, they didn't run that many of them, so even a slightly less awesome one is still a treat.


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MLJ: Sombra Spotlight 5: Sombra vs Felino 2

2010-02-19 @ Arena México
La Sombra DQ Felino [lightning]

Quick shout out first. Mark had me on The Winter Palace talking about Nick Bockwinkel, a subject I feel fairly strongly about (and then other random and sundry geek topics). No one needs to listen to me necessarily but everyone should listen for the other guest, Scott Bowden talking about him in Memphis. Scott knows as much about Memphis history as anyone and lived through Bockwinkel's sojourns down south. It's not a long podcast relatively. People should check that part out, at least.

Back on point. People should check out this match, too. This was just about everything you'd want from a lightning match like this. I'm sure by now people know that spots aren't the thing that moves me the most in this world, but I'm more welcoming when it comes to lightning matches and this was a blast. They couldn't even reshow moves here because by going split screen, they were missing what was happening next.

I like this Felino a lot. He was at a center point between the shtick that would come to dominate his work and the athleticism that had been his calling card for the previous decade plus. The combination of the two really seemed to work. Here he had Puma (King) with him, both coming out shrouded so Sombra didn't know who to attack. He'd also come out at the finish which we'll get to later.

This was a good mix of story and character and spots. I think there was something like five dives, some of them pretty spectacular. There was mask ripping and untying by both luchadores. There was Sombra going to a particular well over and over again and paying for it huge. He kept wanting to put Felino up on the top rope and do something with him. Felino kept reversing it and hitting a bit move, be it a super bomb or just a really beautiful elbow drop off the top.

That led into the finish too, as he went for it again, bounding up only to get pushed back into Splash Mountain position. Here though he turned it into an really nice mid-air 'rana. That was a triumphant moment and felt like a finish, which is why Puma ran out to stop a pin. In the distraction, Felino went for a foul, Sombra blocked it, hit the mask pull and a roll up. Puma rushed in for the DQ.

If people want a look at what Sombra could pull off as a high-octane tecnico at this point in his development, when he was still occasionally unshaky but had come a long way (and if anyone wants to make a case for Felino's longlevity of talent), this is a great, quick match to check out. I probably have too heightened expectations for the apuestas match now.

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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Dick Togo is Kim Jong of the Crack Song

Dick Togo/Sho Funaki v. Christopher Daniels/Steve Boz WWF 6/1/98-FUN

This is a longish Shotgun Saturday Night match which lets the bemulleted Chicago indy team get in their 1998 indy offense. Boz hits four or five leg lariats, and Daniels gets a goofy "DDT one guy neckbreaker the other" spot in. Nothing much from KDX that stands out. Togo hits a nice senton, but most of the match has them weirdly selling for team Windy City Pro. I didn't remember the angle of Kaintai as Japanese street gang who childhood friend TAKA broke away from, that might have been just something that Cornette made up


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Paragon Pro Wrestling 11/21/14 Review - THE FINAL EPISODE

The strains of Barry Manilow's "Looks Like We Made It" waft through the air. Yes, almost FOUR MONTHS have passed, and we have grown older, seen half a dozen Gangrel/Tyshaun Prince matches, watched the world change, watched autumn pass and winter begin, witnessed the birth and premature death of Paragon Pro Wrestling on Pop! TV, and seen an incredible number of commercials for fake logs that create rainbow colors while an adulterous couple fucks in front of a fireplace. It's been a real ride. When this crazy dream started I was merely 34 years old. Now, I'm a few months away from being 35. I've fully exhausted my supply of Wes Brisco rape jokes. And when that happens, the song is over, and it's time to say goodbye.

And of course for the final episode they have a debuting ring announcer. That's like a guy starting his new World Trade Center janitorial job on 9/10.

1. Gentleman Brawler Eric Right vs. Jessie Godderz

Godderz is a TNA guy, and he is juuuuuuuuiced. The announcers refers to Godderz as a "chiseled demi-god". Somebody has been listening to too much Kal Rudman commentary. And this was a weird match. Godderz works a gimmick where he doesn't want to get hit in the face, and so much of the match is spent with Right trying to hit him in the face, with Godderz trying to dodge. What's weird, is Godderz sells as if he's still being punched. So we have a strange sequence where Right is throwing jabs, and Godderz is throwing his head back as if he's being punched, except the jabs are literally over a foot away from his face....but he's selling like he's being hit in the face....Eric Right is a decent puncher, so this isn't on him. Godderz seems like a guy who is working a "not in the face!" gimmick....while also actually being scared about being hit in the face. Match eventually builds to Right decking him, but ends shortly after with a running falling clothesline from Godderz. He then does a gassed out of breath promo about his accomplishments, including being on Big Brother more than ANYbody, and winning an arm wrestling contest that one time.

2. The Hippies (Fruit Loops & Lemon Drop) vs. Hammerstone & Chamberlain

Oh, brother. The return of Fruit Loops, and now he has a partner. I am curious what Fruit Loops and the debuting Lemon Drop did to get a title shot in their first teaming. This was really a weird thing the promotion did: They would build certain wrestlers and teams to "big" title matches, while in the meantime giving title matches to literally every wrestler in the fed. Every week they would have 2-3 title matches. Why would anybody be invested in seeing Whirlwind Gentlemen get their 5th title shot, when we now established that two men teaming for the first time, one debuting, one having lost his only prior match, are also getting a title shot? Fruit Loops admittedly warms my heart by flashing a peace sign, and then doing an eyepoke with the peace sign. That's...actually an awesome spot. And this match - embarrassing "hippie" gimmick aside - is actually plenty of fun. H&C get to maul the Hippies, with Lemon Drop getting a fine surprise sunset flip for a good nearfall, Hammerstone dropping some decent elbows, and Lemon Drop getting obliterated with a match ending lariat.

3. Mike Santiago vs. Anthony Greene

Boy we certainly are debuting a bunch of guys on the last show. Greene is a guy who has popped up in Beyond, among several other east coast indies. And he has a fun debut here that won't go anywhere whatsoever. His quirky offense stands out here more than it does in Beyond, with neat little kip up dropkicks and strange (if questionable from a physics standpoint) Thesz press pins. He's tall and lanky and takes offense well, and he gets the surprise victory. Just building up them new stars on the final show.

4. Caleb Konley vs. Wes Brisco vs. Jessy Sorensen vs. Joey Ryan

I was hoping we'd go out with another Whirlwind Gentlemen/Hammerstone & Chamberlain title match, but it's okay because we got a world title multi man! It began as a 3 way without Ryan, which would have been a terrible match to go off the air with. I mean seriously, they were going to book a 3 way with two faces against a heel as their blowoff match. Terrible. But Joey Ryan came back from his two week mystery disappearance (for all the screen time devoted to "Where is new champ, Joey Ryan!?", I believe the explanation they used was that he was merely celebrating), they made it a 4 way, and that balanced things out pretty nicely. So at least you had two heels and two faces, and it totally worked! It was worked much more as a Texas Tornado match than as a traditional tag-in 4 way, and thank god for that. so you had two logical guys pairing off all throughout, two guys that should in theory dislike one another, and it was some of the strongest work in the fed from these guys. Sorensen in particular easily looked better here than in any other PPW match . He's shown bits and pieces in other matches, but here he was great at playing underdog babyface, and threw shockingly nice punches all throughout. This match could have been messy and chaotic, but instead was just chaotic and fun. I would have guessed the former every damn time. Ryan and Konley keep trying to cull the herd, and it was nice seeing some more smart working heels, and both were good at working together, while also shooting the other glances, with Ryan knowing Konley still would be a threat within the match, and Konley recognizing this. Sorensen was good leaning into the heels' stuff, and I especially liked a nice jumping knee by Konley to Sorensen's chin. Wes Brisco was okay here, although early in the match he threw maybe the worst punches I've seen in a month. He clearly wasn't talented enough to throw punches while keeping a fist, so all of his punch follow through just reveals a wide open fanned out hand. Just terrible looking. At least when Abyss missed his punches by over a foot, he kept his fist closed. Blucch. But, Brisco had moments and he certainly showed himself to be overall serviceable enough in this fed. I just cannot stand looking at him. There are few wrestlers in history who I have disliked looking at this much, and it's more than just the general ick factor. He just has a look of a guy who should NEVER be a babyface. And so of course, as he triumphantly wins the title here, by pinning Konley with a DVD (hate championship matches where the champ can lose the belt without being pinned) we then get our final moments of PPW, just closeup visuals of Brisco's meaty face and gray green murder eyes.

And with that chilling look of terror and sadism and the worst tattoo work you will thankfully never be faced with in real life, we're over.

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