Segunda Caida

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

Sunday, January 31, 2016

2016 Ongoing MOTY List: Gulak/TJP v. Sabre/Callihan

1. Drew Gulak/TJ Perkins v. Zach Sabre Jr./Sami Callihan EVOLVE 54 1/23

ER: I loved this and it might have even been my favorite Gulak performance. The term "ring awareness" gets tossed around by commentary crews in practically every match you ever watch. It's basically a meaningless term at this point. But damn Gulak was so good and just so aware of where he was at in the ring and in the structure of the match that it really felt like the definition example of the term. Flashy submission style wrestling tends to work better in a singles match setting, as the subs need time to build and tag settings make it easier for partners to break things up. But he (and the others) were really good about cutting off the ring, tagging in and out at proper times to keep the flow going, and doing neat things like saving partners from a sub while actually doing damage to his opponent. I loved when Sabre had Gulak trapped in a kind of backpack Americana, while Sami has TJP trapped in a sub, and Gulak just falls on top of the pile effectively ending all submissions. Gulak and Sabre were so fun together, with fun flashy counters and learned mistakes. Sabre did one of my favorite reversals by pulling his own leg close with his own leg to get out of a sub, and then when Gulak did the same moments later Sabre countered it, but Gulak was right there to quickly roll through Sabre's counter surfboard. It's all happening so quick and laid out so smart that it's really wonderful when it works out as well as it does. Gulak was really a terror throughout, though. His ring positioning was killer, both for his own subs and to not make his opponent look like a boob (how many times have you seen somebody supposed to be trapped in a sub, but then have to move AWAY from the ropes so as to look more in danger, due to his opponent's lousy positioning?), and his timing was on point. He always knew the right moment to tag in TJP, and the right moment to do cool things like a fast surprise tope towards the end of the match. Sabre Jr. feels like a guy with a million cool tricks up his sleeve and is able to do flash without making it look rehearsed and exhibition-y. Callihan is a welcome return to the indies and I like him diving back to this style, and also like him breaking from formula by doing things like bailing to the floor to plaster Matt Riddle in the face with a kick. I thought all the subs worked great in the tag setting, and I think that's much more a testament to the 4 guys in the match than anything else. This was really great.

PAS:  I really enjoyed this a bunch too, the main the night before was more of a bomb fest, this was almost a hyped up version of a maestros tag, all four guys tried to whip out a bunch of crazy submissions and the constant saves stopped them from doing a catch and release which can weaken Lucha versions of this match style. I have been a bit of a Sabre Jr. agnostic before, but he has really kicked it into gear in the last year and is already on a hell of a roll in 2016, I loved him as the flashy submission artist in contrast to the more subdued Gulak, they just meshed great. Callihan is so much fun in these tags too he wrestles like he's on speed and it is a great contrast to the submission work, we get some pretty counter mat wrestling and then this lunatic runs in to kick people in the face. Didn't love the finish, as partner dissension is an old school wrestling trope which bores me, still this was overall a heck of match.


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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Lucha Underground Season 2 Episode 1: A Much Darker Place

PAS: I am very weary about the added focus on vignettes but I admit Vampiro in the mental institution was pretty cool. I liked how the days without an incident graphic changed during his hallucination. Not really sure how visible hallucinations fit in professional wrestling, but I am just going to have to get over that.

ER: That opening was absurd and cheesy and completely awesome. Vamp in his videotaped special cell was great, and I loved the psychiatrist too. Him meeting up with Striker in the wastelands was hilarious. And I love Catrina's new bangs (though I'm pretty sure it's a wig), and love Muertes looming above everything in the Temple from his throne, like some Golan the Insatiable type godlord. Felt like it needed a couple slave girls around him. Maybe a head on a stake. Definitely some platters of meat. Probably a flagon of mead.

1. King Cuerno vs. Fenix

PAS: Very good match, one of the better non gimmick singles matches this promotion has run. Really glad to see they are doing something with Cuerno, as he seemed to flounder near the end of last season. Always love his awesome tope, and Fenix looked very good as well. New Cuerno finish felt like a real nasty finish

ER: Man what a great start to the new season, and a nice fresh start for Cuerno who was probably the biggest victim of the fed dropping the ball in season 1. He was deservedly treated like a big deal here and it's obviously an important thing to be chosen to be in the first match of the new season, so I like that as a sign. And it also helps that both guys tore it up and broke out some extremely cool stuff. Only complaint really is that they did maybe too much cool stuff, and because it was so go go go that meant some stuff that looked wicked was kind of forgotten about a moment later. For example, Fenix gets absolutely spiked by an apron-to-floor DDT, getting nice and vertical for it, but had to stand up seconds later to get ready to catch the arrow to the heart tope. It's the kind of thing that's forgivable when the entire match execution is this damn good, and also considering the spot the match was in on the debut episode. Both guys locked in and were really perfect dance partners for the other. Cuerno was so smooth, not just in taking ranas and leaning into kicks, but look at the way he gets ole'd up to the top rope. He gets up there so quick it's like he teleported. I loved all the strikes in this, loved the superkick variations we got. For a move that's probably the most overused move in workrate wrestling today, they made their superkicks look nasty and effectively built them into the match (the EXTREMELY loud sound sweetening I thought added to things as well). Really really dug this. Great start.

2. Son of Havoc vs. Angelico vs. Ivelisse

PAS: This was good stuff too, I didn't like the intergender stuff last year, but that maybe more of a function of Sexy Star sucking so much, and being booked so weird. I totally bought into Ivileese being credible, she laid it into both guys, took a nice beating and got an opportunistic win.

ER: Also liked this, as it managed to avoid a lot of the awkwardness with three way matches. There was some weirdness, like Angelico seemingly working this match as a handicap against Ivelisse. Every time he would accidentally hit Havoc he would act all apologetic, which is weird since he is just as much of an opponent as Ivelisse. And then Vampiro's sound bites seemingly fired off at random times, so things like "It doesn't get more old school than that" were being said after a Havoc springboard crossbody. But there was plenty of cool stuff. I liked Havoc's double tope, Angelico absolutely pasted Ivelisse with a running knee in the corner, they cranked the sound sweetening on all of Ivelisse's chops but she does a fine job showing that she can hang and didn't seem wildly out of place against *gasp* men! Angelico's full body motocross outfit looked absurd.

3. Ivelisse vs. Mil Muertes

PAS: Man this was shockingly great, they did such a good job of teasing Ivilese moments of hope, only to deflate them perfectly. The missed spear into the roll up was a great near fall and I actually bought a quick title change (which was helped by the unexpected Cuerno title win). Puma coming to the rescue and then Pentagon Jr. running out was just a great bit of pro-wrestling. The whole thing was just a masterful bit of wrestling booking and execution. I have been critical of some of this feds booking, but this was great. Loving Pentagon as loose cannon anti-hero.

ER: This whole thing was handled incredibly well and also logically introduced all the main players of the season in a tidy 6 minutes. I was skeptical they'd be able to avoid making Muertes look weak while keeping Ivelisse strong, but this was about as smart and satisfying as I imagine it could be done. The nearfall roll-up was incredibly effective and I fully bought into it. Catrina confirms her wig status by selling Muertes' spear by grabbing the sides of her hair and holding onto it while rolling to the floor. Puma is smartly reintroduced by saving Ivelisse, and then Pentagon gets a badass spot of snapping Muertes arm. Awesome segment.

PAS: What exactly is Black Lotus's character arc? She comes to the temple to avenge her parents death, gets trained by a wise master, gets betrayed by Chavo, captured and thrown in a cage, weirdly decides that her arch enemy who keeps his cannibal brother in a cage next to her is telling the truth about her parents death,  decides to murder her mentor and now is acting as bait for some sort of Hostel of slaughter.  Is this their attempt to do Shakesperean tragedy? I am excited for Matanza to start wrestling, and Cueto is a great actor, but this whole story line is beyond stupid.

ER: I love that Dario gamed those dudes out of only $60 before sending them to their death, and then counts it afterwards, like he's already imagining a really nice dinner at Applebee's. "Black Lotus, feel free to order any of the Endless Apps you want. I'm thinking mozzarella sticks and a Fireball whiskey lemonade."

ER: Well top to bottom this was right up there with the best shows in company history. All of the right characters were the ones being featured, and they were all featured in super satisfying ways. There should be zero complaints about this show.


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Friday, January 29, 2016

MLJ: Sombra Spotlight 13: Volador Jr./La Sombra/Sagrado vs. Sangre Azteca/Black Warrior/Dragón Rojo [MEX TRIOS]

2009-02-03 @ Arena México
Volador Jr./La Sombra/Sagrado vs. Sangre Azteca/Black Warrior/Dragón Rojo [MEX TRIOS]

Last offramp for now. I thought it would make sense to watch at least one of the Mexican National Trios tag title matches that Sombra had as well, just to cover all the ground before we move on. I like looking at a luchador in all of the different roles he might play and while I won't do that entirely for every stage of Sombra's career, a trios title match seemed logical. I'm not going to go back to the match these three had vs Hijo de Fantasma, Maximo, and Mascara too even if that does look interesting. See, I have some restraint. That's online, for anyone curious though. If you do watch it, let me know how it is.

This was a match that had a lot of time and that showed off a lot of the strengths of the genre, with all the dives and cut offs and fast action you'd want, with a little bit of heat and a spattering of early matwork that I'd call middling, and some big spots and really solid character work. It's not necessarily a trios title match I'm going to remember in two years but I'm not going to hesitate in calling it good.

My biggest takeaways were:

1.) Sombra really stood out at this point. Volador did too, sure, but Sombra felt like more of a total package, even at this point. The biggest example I can give is this: at parts of the match, just from their gear, it was almost impossible to tell Sagrado and Sombra apart. They all had team gear and while Volador had the silver mask, both Volador and Sagrado were in black. Despite that, I never had a hard time here. Why? Because Sombra was so much smoother, so much faster, so much more graceful, and so much more dynamic in almost every aspect of his work, and that's including the opening matwork.

2.) I got a real kick out of the rudo side and it's disappointing to me we don't have more title matches with them. I'm no big fan of Sangre Azteca in general, but he was a little younger here, a lot faster, and didn't JUST launch creative shots to places he shouldn't be striking (though he did that too). Black Warrior was hugely emotive. I need to run through his big matches at some point.

3.) Dragon Rojo, Jr. came off as a very solid foil for Sombra. I've got a number of their matches ahead of me, and I'll probably end up diving a little deeper than I first intended.

and 4.) The crowd was really into this, straight down to the finish. That's another reason I'm sad that there weren't many defenses (if any) by the rudos. This felt like a big deal and some of that was due to the big entrances, some to the work itself, and some just to the time they had.

I'd definitely point to this as another indication of how far Sombra had come up to 2009. It takes a different set of skills to be a cog in a trios match like this than a singles title match, and at this stage Sombra was a solid fit for matches like this.

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

2016 Ongoing MOTY List: Ambrose v. Owens Last Man Standing

1. Dean Ambrose v. Kevin Owens WWE Royal Rumble 1/24

ER: I haven't loved how these two have been matching up, but they finally got it right. This needed to be more of a war than their other matches, and LMS matches can tricky: You don't want to go to too big a spot too early, but you gotta have big spots to justify guys staying down for so long. Charles Robinson deserves some credit too for keeping the counts consistent. You establish a slow 10 count early and LMS matches just get dragged down with too much lying about. But most of the credit goes to Owens and Ambrose who went out and just had a super violent fight, right at the bell they pounced on each other and threw stiff phone booth fists and found a way to keep the violence constant for 20 minutes. Ambrose has been taking some deserved flak lately as his character is somewhat floundering, but the man can take a beating and that lead to some spectacular moments: Owens blasting him through the barricade with a cannonball, Steen catching a tope and driving Ambrose hard into the apron, a brutal fisherman's buster through a table, Ambrose flying through the ring steps; We had some really smartly laid out spots, like Owens unable to beat a 10 count, but rolling to the floor and landing on his feet. LOVED that spot. Also loved Owens setting up tables on the floor early in the match, and how those came out of nowhere to play into the finish. This was a real war with both guys dishing and both guys willing to take.

PAS: I liked the fight parts of this alot, Owens and Ambrose starting out with the hockey fight spot was really cool (of course Owens killed that spot dead by doing it with every guy entering the Rumble), and I loved Ambrose doing the Tenryu chop/punch with the chair wrapped around Owen's head. I also liked all the screaming at each other during the fight. Still I think bloodless Last Man Standing matches get a little too into construction mode, as this definitely had one table spot too many. Still loved the finish, and this was one of the better performances both men have had in a long while.


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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

MLJ: Sombra Spotlight 12: La Sombra vs Mephisto [NWA WELTER]

2009-01-19 @ Arena Puebla
La Sombra vs Mephisto [NWA WELTER]

The problem with doing any project of any length is that I decide I need to watch more and more matches. That's what this is. Sombra had a NWA Welterweight Title reign from November 2007 to May, 2009. That's the belt that they replaced with the Historic Welterweight Title and that Volador Jr has now. He beat Ohara for it and lost it shortly after this match to Mephisto. There just aren't a lot of his defenses online, but I felt like I had to at least look at one just to see where he was developmentally in a singles title match. He held the thing for a couple of years, almost.

This was a pretty good match which had one really big thing going for it, time. Time, in and of itself, is not the magic answer to title matches, but it's very hard to have one feel weighty or meaningful without it. Lack of time is an issue even if time, in and of itself, isn't a magic bullet. The current style of CMLL title matches (and apuesta matches, really) allow for a lot of selling in the tercera, and that has to feel warranted, generally through enough damage being done to both wrestlers. That happened here.

Unfortunately, it really suffered from the other tendency of modern title matches, the time being allocated unevenly. The tercera had 18 minutes. The primera was a blip, the segunda less so. They at least made lip service to matwork and wrestling to start, as it wasn't just a title match but one of the NWA ones, NWA patch on the ref's shirt and all, but I don't think there was a lot of faith in Sombra to carry a long title match matwork exchange here. He picked up the primera with a cute little reverse on a fireman's carry drop by Mephisto and the split legged moonsault. He pressed the advantage during that short segunda until Mephisto was able to get a nice headscissors roll up out of nowhere. Then they did a couple of extremely sparse minutes of heat before Sombra reversed things, hit a dive and they started the selling and the nearfalls.

As these sort of terceras go, it was a pretty good one. Again, the time helped, as did Mephisto's selling. For instance, at one point he locked in a really nice Cavernaria, right in the middle of the ring. When he finally let it break, his selling and body language really portrayed the sense that he simply couldn't hold it anymore due to the damage done to him throughout the match and the exhaustion that had set hold. It wasn't just a case of him letting go of a hold to keep the match moving along. That sort of effort is appreciated because it feels somewhat rare.

Both the spots and the sense of danger and believability of the nearfalls escalated as the tercera went on, which is really what you want out of this sort of thing. Occasionally, one didn't work out quite as believably as it should due to Sombra trying to balance his selling with the immediacy necessary but the sum was stronger than the parts here, and when he did hit the springboard dragonrana he was doing around this time and picked up the pin, the crowd went nuts and Mascara lifted him up on his shoulders, and it really did feel both warranted and like a big deal. It certainly wasn't my favorite title match that I've seen recently, but Sombra had come a long way to pull off this specific sort of one as well as they did here.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tuesday Night Digging in the Crates

Terry Funk/Freddy Valentine v. Johnny Slaughter/Hector Guerrero ACW 4/17/99

This is the kind of thing that youtube has been a boon for. This is a random match from a indy somewhere put up by some guy named Johnny Slaughter, and we get to see a battle between two all time greats. Hector and Terry are both guys with lots of amusing shtick and it is fun to watch that shtick collide. Hector breaks out a star, and some fun rolling around for a tag, plus great brawling with Funk. Funk wanders around throwing windmills, beating the piss out of Slaughter doing Terry Funk stuff. The two local guys were fine, but this is obviously a blast mainly to get a glance at a couple of legends doing their thing.

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Yoshiaki Fujiwara Will Still Yield Fruit in Old Age, He Shall Be Full of Sap and Very Green

Yoshiaki Fujiwara v. Atsushi Aoki AJPW 1/3/16- GREAT

He is still doing it, 2016 and Fujiwara is still doing his thing. He looks 60 when he was 30, so he is sort of a weirdo wrestling Pharell Williams where you can never really tell his age. With worse video quality this match could have been from the 80s or 90s. This match started out with grappling and that part was truly world class, with Fujiwara still looking like a master, lots of nifty counters and moments of sharp unexpected violence. I especially loved Fujiwara offering a handshake to this young kid which he then turns into a Fujiwara armbar, classic smirking dick Fujiwara. They then go into sort of a time killing section where Fujiwara and Aoki headbutt ringposts, and then back into another cool grappling part with Fujiwara finding a way to get the submission. If we had excised the headbutt section I might have had this as an EPIC which is nuts because Fujiwara is in his MID SIXTIES!! (or maybe he is a vampire who got bit when he was 52 and will be 52 forever)


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Monday, January 25, 2016

MLJ: Fantasticamania: Hechicero & Virus vs Dragon Lee & Jay White

2016-01-17 @ Kochi Sunpia CHRES, Kochi, Japan
Hechicero & Virus vs Dragon Lee & Jay White

We've gotten crazy snow where I am, and it's been 110% toddler time for me the last few days. Thankfully, I've been able to sneak in just a bit of lucha, even if I'm behind on the things I was planning to watch. I have every intention on braving the most dreaded of disappointing lucha libre, CMLL Tournaments, because I Want to get back to Sombra, and the 2010 Universal Tournament where he ended up in the finals with Liger seems like a fun choice. I may regret it.

For now, though, this is up on russian youtube (Alfredo's tweeted out the links, I think, but feel free to go to rutube and search for "hechicero"), and it was a lot of fun. It's obviously one of the best rudo pairings CMLL Could possibly put together up against the most dynamic tecnico of the last year. White is a perfectly acceptable foreign young lion. Virus and Hechicero have to position guys around far clunkier than him all of the time, so this was going to be good no matter what, really.

What was the most fun, however, was the presentation. It was in front of prety small looking crowd and everyone wanted to make a splash. Virus was slapping hands. He and Hechicero made some great poses for the cameras. Hech really stood out with his character playing. He had a mask over his normal one like Mil Mascaras and locked in a bunch of his normal rolling submissions and the conjuro. The "wizardry" he was doing to befuddle White with his hands, refusing to lock up and casting a spell repeatedly, then either gaining advantage with a quick legdive or armlock. He's started to do this a little more in CMLL, but this was 300% over the top and I loved it. He's had better matches but this was probably my favorite performance of his in a long time. He was desperately trying to impress and thus came off like not just a star, but an extremely unique star.

This was one fall and they worked it with a bit of primera feeling out (between Lee and Virus and White and Hechicero), going through the pairings a couple of times with the usual escalation, and then went into the cutoffs and spots of a tercera finishing stretch. It was very cool to see three of everyone's favorites take their act on the road though. I'd love to see Virus and Hechicero as a more regular team over the rest of the year.

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Sunday, January 24, 2016

NXT Episode 213 3/20/14 Review

1. Mojo Rawley vs. Bull Dempsey

One of those matches worked 75 up front for one guy, then the guy who's somehow supposed to look good just takes the last 25. This was a real common match format in '95 syndicated WCW. Heel bullies for first 3/4, then the babyface just comes back without trouble. This was my first time seeing Dempsey and I dug him in a generic syndicated fat guy kind of way. He wears a cool generic black fat guy singlet, and he has nice simple knees and elbows and fat guy clubs. Rawley still hasn't shown me a whole lot and that doesn't change here. He doesn't take a super interesting beating, and when his "wild" comeback starts it's meant to look like an ultra hyper wild man slamming into people, but his shoulderblocks and elbows and bombs away all land just a bit too light.

Backstage promo with CJ Parker wearing a dress shirt, necktie and vest. Man that fucking stupid. Not everybody needs to dress like 1984 Ric Flair when cutting title match promos.

Zayn vs. Breeze doesn't happen as Corey Graves jumps Zayn and posts him.

2. Adam Rose vs. Camacho

Camacho is on an awesome run of "already waiting in ring" TV appearances. And boy Adam Rose is not very good. He throws an okay spinebuster, all of his other stuff had too much hesitation or pulling back. Camacho worked as a good faceless heel, stomping and elbowing and acting flummoxed by Rose's jackassery, but he was no matched for Rose's slow paced offense. Nothing about Rose screams "ready for the big time".

3. Sasha Banks vs. Bayley

Not much of a match as both Sasha and Bayley work like they have no offense, with Bayley being 1995 Mikey Whipwreck and Banks being Stevie Richards. Banks even has Richards' old 1995 mullet. So we get headlocks, roll-ups, people getting tossed to the floor, stomps, back rakes, and eventually a roll up gets reversed for the win. Both have charisma to pull off their characters, although Bayley relies way too much on acting like some sort of 12 year old, because I guess guys like that? She acts a couple steps ahead of Eugene, and I suppose that's what makes her "a role model to girls around the world", as they keep saying. I think they're trying to make her into Zooey Deschanel or...more like whatever WWE thinks Zooey Deschanel might be from the episode of New Girl they watched that one time.

4. Aiden English vs. Sheamus

This wasn't bad either but again a theme of NXT heels not actually having offense. English takes a nice back bump to the floor, and sets up stuff for Sheamus really nicely. I especially liked him setting up Sheamus' ring apron forearms, as English scrambles trying to escape to the floor, and Sheamus catches him before he can get there, leaving English prone for the forearms. The match gets time, they just don't do a whole lot with it. There's only so much time you can spend running from Sheamus, followed by holding Sheamus in a chinlock.

Not much of an episode this week. I liked the guys who weren't supposed to be getting the rub, liked Dempsey while not thinking much of Rawley, liked Camacho while thinking Rose looked bad. This doesn't seem like a good sign.


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Saturday, January 23, 2016

2015 Ongoing Match of the Year List

28. Jack Gallagher v. Chris Brookes Tetsujin 11/20

PAS: This felt like the right final, these were the two best guys in the tourney and I was amped to see this matchup. It didn't disappoint. Gallagher was super fast and impressive in his grappling, he was always moving and squirming and looking for an advantage, while Brookes used his height to throw leg kicks and keep Gallagher off him. Gallagher took a suplex about as nastily as I have seen in years, and I loved his jumping arm bar for the tap. Really good finish to an impressive tourney.

ER: Fun final and a nice capper for the evening. Judo Jack even shows up in a new black gi, looking like the Final Boss. I knew these two would match up well as Gallagher showed off his quick reactions all night, and I wanted to see how they went up against the quick strikes of Brookes. And it all works. Their scrambles are good, their rolls are quick and always end interesting, Jack is good at getting to the ropes and some of the sub attempts looked like they would make him a goner. The flying armbar was a surprising fun finish, but this style lends itself to surprising finishes and the possibility of those finishes makes these matches more intense. Good final on a good, really fun show.


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Friday, January 22, 2016

MLJ: Babe Face, Negro Casas, Rambo b Villano I, Villano IV, Villano V

1992-03-06 @ Arena Neza
Babe Face, Negro Casas, Rambo b Villano I, Villano IV, Villano V

I was in a Villanos mood still, and looking through the various things decadas80s90s2000 has posted over the years and found this. There's a lot of stuff on there which isn't easy to search for on youtube or catalog. I found a number of things I want to get to at some point. This may not have been the best choice. It was fun disposable lucha, but I wanted to see some more 92 Casas in a match that isn't one of his hyped ones.

This was something of a trainwreck with lots of feeding and lots of bumps, lots of ducked moves and lots of counters. There was some shine at the beginning and some heat in the middle but it was really just a constant flow of action. I'd say that the entire rudo side delivered in one way or another here, though Babe Face the least. He had to be getting up there in age by this point and it showed. That said, he had some great comedic sells and at least an attempt of a few bumps. He was just a half step behind everyone else. Rambo, on the other hand, was a blast. I need to see more of him. He was an amazing cheerleader on the outside and his offense is just so offbeat and novel. It's not that it's well executed or brilliant or anything, but he just has a way of using his body as a weapon that fits his scummy, over the top character perfectly. I need to see more of him. He came off like the perfect Mocho Cota partner here.

Casas was above and beyond. One thing that amazes me, absolutely amazes me, is that you can watch a random Negro Casas trios and you will, maybe seven or eight times out of ten, see him do something you've never seen him do before. It almost always fits. It almost always makes sense. It almost always adds to the match. It never seems forced or contrived. It just seems like Casas wanted to do something different that night, to try inflicting pain a different way or to react differently. I'm not sure I've ever seen another wrestler like that. Here, he took the monkey flip bump to the floor, which I'm sure he must have done other times in this era. However, he also did a fun comedy spot where Rambo fell straight backwards, like a tree-falling senton, trying to break up a pin, and the Villano moved. Casas got his knees up to save himself and Rambo sold it like he was shot in the back by his own man. He also did a double corner clothesline (tried a corner clothesline on a Villano in the corner who got his arm up), which is one of those sort of no-brainer spots you've just never seen before. He added so much energy and excitement and motion and character to the match.

I had no context here, but it didn't matter. I'm glad to watch great rudos clowning and bumping and bullying for super tecnicos and it's always great to see near-prime Casas. He could do almost everything he does now in adding meaning and purpose and character to a match but he could do all the more athletically back then.

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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Lucha Worth Watching: More Dragon Lee/Kamaitachi and Porky vs. Ingobernales

Dragon Lee v. Kamaitachi (CMLL 11/27/15)

ER: This is the WorldWide match of all WorldWide matches right here. I am not sure how two guys could cram more into 6 1/2 minutes. This is a lightning match so you have that large clock looming in the background at all times, and after a breathless segment of ducked strikes and missed charges and reversed armdrags the camera pans back to show that we were only 58 seconds into this whole thing. Sheesh. Psych is out the window here, this is just two cool athletes showcasing their coolest shit, and it's most definitely cool. Kamaitachi has a couple cool Canadian Destroyer variations that he's able to hit without it being expected (the match ender off a Lee powerbomb attempt was NOT what I expected to happen). Both men have been taking stupid bumps and murdering the other for practically two years now and this whole thing is no different. Kamaitachi suckers in Lee when Lee attempts to do his top rope stomp, sends Lee flipping fast and painfully to the floor, then caves his neck in with a lariat sending Lee over the ringside barricade. Feet fly into faces, stomps get laid in snug, both men take ludicrous headdrops, Lee breaks out a typical gorgeous dive. These guys enjoy making each other's offense look nasty, and I enjoy watching them murder themselves.

Rush, La Sombra & La Mascara vs. Super Porky, Super Parka & Angel de Oro (CMLL 10/9/15)

ER: I didn't go into this one expecting too much, it being buried in the middle of a card featuring a singles match tournament, but something about the match-up intrigued me. Ingobernales are the big trios team, and here they were against a curiously tossed together team, none of whom have anything to do with one another. I mean, Porky and Parka share a Super, and Porky's arm is silver while he's teaming with a gold angel, but those are some loose slippery connections. I was drawn to this one as it's Ingobernales versus an undercard, weird team. It's not quite the 4 Horseman vs. Joey Maggs, Frankie Lancaster and Men at Work, but it's an odd match-up for a big team. And nobody dogs it, which everybody essentially could have. We come *this* close to getting one of THOSE Porky performances, the kind where a bunch of bullies pick on him until he snaps and starts stiffing dudes. He does throw more strikes than normal and they are plenty stiff, after all the Ingobernales take turns seeing who can slap him harder. Rush was a king-sized cocky beast in this, slicking his hair back after throwing stiff kicks, laughing off strikes to blast Oro and Parka with his sick thrust headbutts. Mascara and Sombra are left bumping around for Porky comebacks, including his running bombs away on the rampway, and even better a trust fall senton on both of them. Parka knocked them down and kept jumping on them with splashes, and we were all waiting for Porky to do a sloppy belly first leap....and then he just turns around and timmmberrrrr falls backwards onto them. Squish. It set up a great spot later when it looked like Porky looks like he might finally get one up on Rush, knocks him unexpectedly on his ass, does a quick trust fall...but alas Rush moves and then gives Porky a double stomp. Parka and Oro hit stereo dives and Parka is a lunatic near-60 year old man!! Doing a dive sounds crazy to now-35 year old me, I can't imagine it will sound like a better idea in 25 years. Oro is getting better about picking his spots and looks better for it. Ingobernales did tons of terrific poses all throughout. One of the poses looked like if all three decided on the three gayest 1995 Shawn Michaels poses and then did all of them, so you have Sombra lying down all spread awkwardly like Michael's Playgirl photoshoot, while Rush stands over him doing the sexy boy dance, while Mascara kinda fawns over Sombra's abs. It was glorious. Shoot just writing about the match makes me love the match that much more.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

NXT Episode 212 3/13/14 Review

1. Paige vs. Sasha Banks

Albert calls Paige "the closest you can get to a total package in wrestling" which...seems a wee bit hyperbolic. I mean, you can't just go saying that about everybody, and the person you choose to say that about is...Paige? Match itself was short and not bad, though the ending was kind of abrupt and didn't make Sasha look very strong. Paige was working the match as seasoned vet, and Banks was kind of more Stevie Richards as she doesn't really seem to have tons of offense, so she gets by on body charisma and stuff like back rakes and hair pulling. It works, as she comes off like a gal who would give zero fucks about ripping out a chunk of some girl's extensions. Sasha locks on a nice arms-crossed camel clutch, even if it doesn't ever feel like it could end the match. They must have gotten the sudden call to go home though as Sasha lets get back up, then Paige just kinda knocks Sasha down and immediately works to lock on the Paige Tapout. I mean, Sasha was good at fighting to keep out of it and avoid getting her arms locked in, but it was a really weird sequence with Paige sitting in a sub, then getting up and just locking on her own sub for the win.

2. The Ascension vs. Travis Tyler & Cal Bishop

You'll never believe it, but according to our announce crew, The Ascension are also "The Total Package". Five stars for everybody! Everybody gets a Trophy Day! Travis Tyler draws the short straw here and takes the brunt of the 3.5 minute beating. And to their credit Ascension know how to work squash matches. It helps having a guy like Tyler who was really great at being blitzed and blindsided by shoulderblocks and double teams. I've never seen Tyler before but he's at minimum a guy who makes offense look really great, and he was real good at naturally stumbling into position, conveying that his bell was run early and he wasn't sure where the next shot was coming from. Viktor hits a real nice boma ye off the middle buckle, with Konnor Irish whipping him into it. Nice, satisfying extended squash.

3. Mason Ryan vs. Wesley Blake

Damn I actually really really liked this. It was two green guys, but having a fun "Power Plant green guys getting a little time on Pro" and they're trying new things and some of them don't totally work, but they look game in trying these new things, and they kind of surprise you a bit. Here the green sloppiness added to the match for me, as it made things come off with a cool confused struggle. The headlock stuff in the beginning was really good because of that, as instead of a clean headlock push into the ropes, we get some nasty struggle over a sloppy choke with guys getting their ears pinched and forearms going across noses. So we get a couple of sloppy struggles, but they looked better in their sloppiness. Blake takes a punch well and we also get some nice ground punches which feel more like an MMA guy sensing his opponent was finished so dives in excitedly with some sloppy ground strikes. Ryan plays around with some headlock takedowns and fireman's carry takedowns, and those benefit from sloppiness as well. They came off more as uncooperative throws. Nice segment with Ryan missing a corner charge and hitting his shoulder, and the match actually including some nice callback spots to a potential shoulder injury. Blake later hits a single arm DDT and a nice stomp to the shoulder, and there's some fun fighting over an arm wringer. Eventually we get the kind of abrupt Power Plant guy GO HOME call where someone just hits their finisher. But this surprised me and I really dug it, in the same way I was surprised and really dug Sick Boy vs. Renegade.

4. Xavier Woods vs. Alexander Rusev

Tyler Breeze comes out and begs Woods for the shot against Rusev, sounds genuine, wants the chance to fight Rusev for hitting his face. Woods refuses and as Rusev comes out, Breeze jumps Woods.

And damn this match was good too, although needed like...30 more seconds to make it substantial. But it was good. Woods is reeling from getting jumped and taking shots to the back of his head, so Rusev bullies him into the corner and laces in with low shin kicks and nice knees to the ribs. He's working like a bulky RINGS Russian, like Bitsadze Tariel, with shin kicks and rolled shoulder throws. Woods gets a really great comeback too, as Rusev bullies him into a corner but Woods knows the shin kick is coming this time. So Woods catches it and starts throwing all the strikes at him, nice low kicks, elbows to the jaw, a really great chop, just peppering them in off time, staggering Rusev. But it is fleeting, as Rusev grabs hold of him and tosses him into a pancake. With one more twist or turn, this could have been a perfect little short match.

5. Colin Cassady vs. Bo Dallas

Colin Cassady is hilarious to me. As in, I giggled through this whole match. Cassady is a giant. He is clearly a tall guy, even though he just kind of looks like Edge slightly stretched out. So he's this giant guy, who loses ALL of his height once there's any kind of lock-up. He and Dallas lock up, and suddenly Dallas looks bigger. He starts wrestling like Spike Dudley the second they lock-up. Even his comebacks are like Spike Dudley, or any blowjob babyface tag team ever. BUT, when he makes his comebacks, his offense is sold like he is a GIANT. So he's wrestling like Bobby Fulton but then makes a comeback and Dallas is taking flip bumps like he's being tossed around by Andre. So I'm dying laughing as Dallas easily grounds Cassady with a headlock, and then Cassady starts elbowing Dallas' stomach to get out of it, but Dallas is jumping while taking these shots like he's comically  taking the offense of a giant man, but Cassady is facially acting like he's a tiny babyface desperately fighting for control. It's fucking hilarious. He works like fucking Tommy Rogers except he's 7 feet tall!! I can't stand it. It's too good. He'll always be desperately struggling to fight back, but then he'll hit a big boot like a giant and Dallas will go flying like he took a bat to the face. HOLY SHIT Cassady just threw himself down to the mat while whipping Dallas into the corner. Holy shit. He did it in the way tiny juniors throw themselves down, as if they're using ALL of their strength, every possible muscle in their little body, to whip this man into the buckles, like Mitch Williams falling off the mound after pitches because he was throwing so hard. I can't take it. That's like something Kalisto would do when wrestling Rusev. So, aside from breaking out in tears every time GIANT Colin Cassady worked as if he were Rey Misterio wrestling Kevin Nash on Nitro, I really liked Dallas in this. He worked a smarmy slow style, really rubbing it in that he was being methodical. And the crowd was booing and chanting boring, and that makes Dallas make a BO-lieve joke out of BO-ring. Dallas throws awesome back elbows and at one point plowed through Cassady with an awesome running back elbow variation. But Colin Cassady man. I can't deal. I love it.

Fun episode, sometimes for the reasons they weren't totally going for. HOWEVER, fun is fun is fun.


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MLJ: Brazos vs Villanos/Hijo Del Santo

El Hijo Del Santo/Los Villanos I, III & IV vs. El Brazo/Brazo de Oro/Brazo de Plata/Super Brazo

Santo/Villanos vs Los Brazos 3/7/91 Part I by ragingnoodles

Santo/Villanos vs Los Brazos 3/7/91 Part 2 by ragingnoodles

I've seen some of these UWF (or other assorted Japanese) shows from this era, and while they can have fun match ups and really interesting crowds, usually the matches are more style than substance. They're single fall and meant to pop and amuse the crowd. I couldn't pass this one up though as we had four Brazos (the usual suspects plus Super Brazo) against three Villanos and Hijo del Santo, which is such a weird atomicos group.

It was more or less exactly what you would expect, but in the best possible way: disposable, fun, with memorable suplexes and rote comedy spots executed to perfection. The surprise came in the restraint and the build. They cobbled together at least the loose frame of a match, with some really hilarious comedic stalling with the crowd, even exchanges, a tecnico shine (lots of arm drags), building to rudo miscommunication and dive teases, at least some lip service towards heat, with the Brazos using teamwork and girth to keep control, a comeback moment, and a drawn out finishing stretch with languid cutoffs building to some big throws, the promised dives, and a finish.

There were individual things that stood out, some of the suplexes, certainly, that comedic stalling in the beginning, Santo's super sharp work with Oro (I think it was Oro at least), the Villanos playing the tecnico role during the rudo miscommunication so well, some big bumps on back body drops or out of the ring, and how well the Brazos played to the crowd with one shout or mannerism anytime that they seemed to be losing interest. It didn't really coalesce into anything greater than the sum of its parts though, which was a shame given that they really did show some restraint and build. I think if everything was broken up with the 2/3 fall structure, it could have really been great. Those pauses and logical break points can be so valuable when it comes to pacing.

They didn't really seem to pay off to the crowd though. I don't know if it was because the finishing stretch was just a bit too methodological or they were burnt out by how fun the start of the match was, or maybe because it was a match that just tried to be too much, but they seemed much more into things at the start than the end. In some ways, the match was a huge testament to the versatility of the wrestlers, but you can only give that so much credit when you're not sure at how the end result was received. Ultimately, it worked for me, though perhaps more as a novelty and a spectacle than a fully formed match.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Tetsujin Shoot Style 11/20/15

Really cool oddity of a show. A British wrestling radio show promotes a shootstyle tourney made up of mostly under the radar British guys (no Sabre, Scrull, Osprey ect.) and it comes off way better then it should have. You can order it here

1. Jack Gallagher v. Zach Gibson

PAS: Gallagher is in full gi here, he is guy I had seen before and enjoyed, he always seemed like one of the more natural guys doing new age WOS stuff. Here he was really cool as a Tamuraish shootstyle grappler, he kept falling into guard and inviting Gibson to roll with him.  I though Gibson looked fine, but Gallagher was on another level. This built nicely to a pretty hot finish, with Gibson doing a deadlift powerbomb for a near KO, and Gallagher ripping off a nice flying choke and doing a cool arm shift to synch in the choke, almost looked like the way Cody McKenzie would sleep people during the Ultimate Fighter.

ER: I loved the way this was paced, loved the RINGS vibe. Trying to do a whole show featuring these kind of matches worked by guys who don't normally do these kind of matches seems like a Brawl for All type disaster waiting to happen. Just torn muscles and knocked loose teeth and ligament damage.  I know nothing about these two guys so if there were any pre-existing hierarchy I'm unaware, and it's probably best that way. Gallagher was loads of fun, like a little coiled rattlesnake. Gibson had some nice stuff as well, including an awesome abdominal stretch which he smoothly rolled into a rear naked, and later almost ripped Gallagher's shoulder out of the socket. My tricep ached just watching Gallagher's bend back to his shoulderblade. The powerbomb was a real holy shit spot (wish he had tidied up the follow up punt, however) and I just really liked the way all of this built.

2. Tyler Bate v. Chris Brookes

PAS: I enjoyed this a bunch too, Brookes is way taller then Bate and he really uses his length in the way tall shootfighters use their height, he has nasty upkicks, and uses a jab. Bate has kind of weird body, he sort of looks like a giant baby like Sekimoto. I really liked how Bate kept going for german suplexes, which Brookes would block, made it a big deal when he finally hit one. Finish was really awesome here too with Brookes fighting for an ankle lock from the ground, he blast Bate with an upkick and and sinking in the pick.

ER: I really loved this one. I had seen Brookes before wrestling in a "normal" tag match, but here he's like a young Semmy Schilt which looks ludicrous when paired with Bate and his weird overly muscled smaller frame. Actually Bate has kind of eerily similar posture to Backlund. But man do opposites attract as the tradeoffs ruled. The standing exchanges and grappling looked really great, especially at one point where they lock hands and have a kick exchange, like a bizarro MMA version of the knife fight from Beat It. The headlock takeovers looked like they would pop heads off shoulders, the struggle during suplex attempts was real, that upkick right across Bate's cheek was sick, and this was just awesome.

3. Dan Moloney v. Chris Ridgeway

PAS; This was too short to get much of a sense of either guy. They have a slap fest which mixed some good strikes with some iffier ones, and Maloney dumps Ridgeway on his head and lands elbows to the back of the head for the KO. Those forearms to the back of the head are hard to work well, and they didn't look particularly good here.

ER: Yeah those clubbing forearms didn't look good which is a shame as I really liked the lead up to it, with both guys tossing out off-time kicks and slaps really quick, until Moloney scouts a missed kick and uses Ridgeway's momentum against him to grab a go behind and quick German. Everything up to the stoppage was good, but the stoppage looked poor.

4. Trent Seven v. Dave Mastiff

PAS: Mastiff is a big fat dude and I like a big fat dude. This was the longest of the first round matches and was a little dull. Mastiff and Seven lied around a lot instead of doing cool holds. I did like Mastiff's cool back elbow and german suplex, but otherwise this wasn't anything special.

ER: Mastiff is another one of the guys I had seen before, because fat. He's like Jake the Milkman Milliman without the rattail. I kind of expected this to be slower paced as it would be odd to see Mastiff rolling around and doing quick go behinds, but I though the slow pace was rewarding as Mastiff brought a little fish out of water vibe to things, but showed he could still throw you right quick before you realize what's happening. At one point we get into a fun Frye/Shamrock ankle lock battle and I liked the handshake compromise to get out of it. I loved when Mastiff started bringing strikes, like his upkicks from his back, his elbows, and then that big German to end things, leading to him being the first guy to sort of show heel leanings as he pounces on Seven a couple times to get more shots in, long after the bell.

5. Dan Moloney v. Chris Brookes

PAS: This was another very short match (I hope they didn't pay Maloney by the hour). Thought Brookes looked good again, his slaps looked nasty in the slap exchange, and his jumping ankle pick was very cool. Really short match, so not a ton to say about it.

ER: Match goes over 4 minutes so it's not exactly that much shorter than the other matches so far, but it does kind of expose Moloney. He had some smart strategy at one point, feigning a KO during a slap exchange to get the ref to back Brookes off him, then springing up and surprising Brookes with a German. But earlier he had some goofy missed strikes where he was firing way over Brookes' head, which given the size difference couldn't have looked like anything other than one guy purposely trying to miss strikes. I did like Moloney realizing he was only going to win with slams, so I dug Brookes going for a rolling armbar only to find himself getting dropped with a front slam and scrambling for the ropes. This was fine but I'm glad Brookes advanced.

6. Jack Gallagher v. Dave Mastiff

PAS: This was great stuff. Gallagher is a little guy trying to fell the oak tree. Meanwhile Mastiff is just tossing him too and fro, with some very cool throws. Gallagher has very little success until the very end with Mastiff clubbing him with a big forearm and running headbutt, and when Mastiff leaps on him to finish it, Gallagher is able to grab a desperation triangle, which he is even able to sink in after getting powerbombed. Really cool flash finish which reminds me of the kind of thing Fujiwara would pull off.

ER: This fell a little more flat with me, as the slow pace Phil complained about that didn't bother me in the first Mastiff match, bothered me here. Funny, that. The bulk of the match didn't feel like taking down an oak tree, it felt like Mastiff being a fish out of water, not knowing how to deal with Judo Jack, floundering on his back like a turtle. His frustration eventually turns to him using strikes, when he just levels Jack with a mean forearm, then when Jack beats the count he runs straight into a Mastiff headbutt. The finish didn't feel genuine to me, felt much more planned out than all the other finishers we've seen so far. After the headbutt Jack barely beats the 10 count, and then Mastiff does an awesome STO and starts beating him in the face. And it goes on WAY longer than any of the other finishing match stretches, which have all seen sudden quick calls by the ref. So Jack barely beats the 10 count, and then is just taking several shots to the face, and once the ref didn't call the match it telegraphed the finish, as sure enough Jack grabs for a triangle. Mastiff hits a nice powerbomb to desperately try to get out of it but Jack holds on for the win. The finish may have looked better on a show that hadn't already set up its universe, but it came off too "fake MMA" to me on a show that had better looking and more surprisingly sudden stuff.

7. Tommy End v. Big Daddy Walter

PAS: This was a superfight between two WXW guys. End has as a cool look and has gotten some US Indy love in PWG and Evolve, and Walter is a long term WXW mainstay who works an indy Vader gimmick. The early grappling part of this match was a little dull, but the end run was fun stuff. They really had a bomb throwing feel, much more BattlArts then RINGS, End really laid in his kicks and Walter landed some big suplexes. Sort of a poor mans Ikeda v. Fatter Otsuka, not at that level but pretty fun.

ER: This was fun. I got to see End live during WM weekend last year and came away really impressed. If you shaved a little off the front you might have something here, as once they got to the strike portions this got really awesome. End especially is a really cool striker, mixing up heights and arm angles and tossing in kicks when you're not even expecting a foot to enter the fray. One of his flash kicks was a top 3 moment in this cool tourney. It's kinda neat the powerbomb is being treated like a sudden death move in a couple matches here, as it makes Judo Jack Gallagher look even tougher for surviving Mastiff's bomb to win with a triangle. That's a nice subtle way to build up the advantage of a main eventer.

8. Jack Gallagher v. Chris Brookes

PAS: This felt like the right final, these were the two best guys in the tourney and I was amped to see this matchup. It didn't disappoint. Gallagher was super fast and impressive in his grappling, he was always moving and squirming and looking for an advantage, while Brookes used his height to throw leg kicks and keep Gallagher off him. Gallagher took a suplex about as nastily as I have seen in years, and I loved his jumping arm bar for the tap. Really good finish to an impressive tourney.

ER: Fun final and a nice capper for the evening. Judo Jack even shows up in a new black gi, looking like the Final Boss. I knew these two would match up well as Gallagher showed off his quick reactions all night, and I wanted to see how they went up against the quick strikes of Brookes. And it all works. Their scrambles are good, their rolls are quick and always end interesting, Jack is good at getting to the ropes and some of the sub attempts looked like they would make him a goner. The flying armbar was a surprising fun finish, but this style lends itself to surprising finishes and the possibility of those finishes makes these matches more intense. Good final on a good, really fun show.

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Monday, January 18, 2016

MLJ: Recent Uploads: Love Machine, Último Dragón, Vampiro vs Black Magic, Negro Casas, Pirata Morgan

1992-09-18 @ Arena México
Love Machine, Último Dragón, Vampiro vs Black Magic, Negro Casas, Pirata Morgan

I really meant to get back to Sombra and I will soon but Dataintcash has been uploading so I wanted to give some of these a look. There's another Robin Hood match up and an Estrada vs Fiera match which I'm going to give my vaunted colleagues a few more days to get to before I look at, but it sounds great on paper. This, though, took me by surprise. I'll watch any Negro Casas match that comes down the pipeline, but I didn't really have high hopes for this one. I was wrong.

It was one of the craziest lucha brawls I've ever seen. It didn't have the sort of brutal fury you get from the 80s rudos vs rudos wars, but it was just constant action, with all of the rudos playing their roles so well, and all of the tecnicos as endlessly spirited and fiery, even as a framing device, which I'm not sure I've ever seen before. Usually, when the rudos are beating on one tecnico, it's because they've managed to neutralize the others. Here, it was often two on one because one of the other tecnicos was chasing the third rudo around the ring. Crazy stuff with a lot of visceral hatred.

Morgan immediately felt like the best possible Vampiro opponent here. All Vamp really needed to do was bleed and sell and occasionally dive across the ring at whatever rudo last wronged him, using his height to make that visually striking. It didn't often go so well for him, save for one big revenge spot where he got to suplex Black Magic outside of the ring. Morgan was just awesome at bullying him and bleeding him, with all three rudos constantly cutting him off. There's a hair match between Morgan and Vampiro and I actually want to watch that now; it's nothing I've ever really thought of seeking out before.

I think this was shortly after Magic's turn and he and Barr got the very most out of that, with Barr first frustrated and then increasingly furious and deranged in his attacks. Casas was glorious, both as the rudo getting chased around the ring the most and as the guy taking the most sheer enjoyment from the beating they were giving out. He was always in the right place at the right time to help with a cut off or push someone off the ropes or get in an extra shot for good measure, and he made Dragon look like a million bucks by bumping for his kicks. I value old Casas just as much as young Casas, but I'll also freely admit that physically, he could do things well above and beyond when he was younger. He never had to, but they almost always add something unique and special to a match.

This was one of those vaguely unsatisfying two fall matches with the rudos controlling most, the tecnicos getting a comeback win in the middle, and then the rudos getting disqualified in the end. Of that sort, you either have the desperation DQ foul because the tecnicos are too much or when the rudos get DQ'd because they're just beating on the tecnicos too much. Both build heat for another match, but I kind of like the latter since it allows for more face saving on the rudo side. That's what we had here. I'd suggest watching this just for the breathless energy of it and Morgan and Casas playing their roles so well. This was really the way to manage Vampiro at this stage.

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Sunday, January 17, 2016

2014 Ongoing Match of the Year List

35. Bobby Fish v. TJ Perkins PWG 8/29

PAS: Pretty enjoyable opening match from the BOLA. Standard stuff to start, including sort of a goofy comedy spot, Perkins is so fast and fluid though, that he makes even simple things fun to watch. The match picks up when Fish starts working over the knee, including Fish brutally checking a kick Chris Weidman style. Perkins did a nice job selling danger, and damaged including doing a cool tope from almost a dead stop because he couldn't run. Really liked the finish with Fish trying to twist off the knee until Perkins was able to slip in a bridge and turn a submission into a pin. Fun stuff

ER:  Man I really liked this, and also liked the pre-leg work stuff. I thought all of it worked great (except the comedy spot; that felt really shoehorned in). Reversals and "guys who scouted their opponent's arsenal" stuff can come off way too cute and over-rehearsed. But they broke out some real slick and impressive stuff, stuff I wasn't expecting. Perkins especially can get too cute, as he can try to blend too many styles and occasionally can come off like a Rocky Romero type. Still better than Romero, but you don't ever want to be compared to Rocky Romero. Here all of the potential cute stuff actually fits logically and seamlessly into the match. For example, this may be the only time I've ever seen Perkins' little "Spider-man catching himself in the ropes" spot actually make sense, with Fish throwing him hard and close into the ropes, and Perkins actually looking like he was going to fly out to the floor before catching himself last minute. I was digging the reversals and all the "guys attempt same move at same time" stuff more than I usually dug that stuff, but things jumped to another level once Fish checked that low kick and Perkins sold it 100% perfectly. He went down like he had kicked a ringpost and it looked great. Overall I thought Perkins did an exceptional job selling the knee, doing things like the near stop tope Phil mentioned, and other little details like going for an Irish whip but not being able to plant his leg. Joey Ryan was really good on commentary here as well, putting over what Perkins is going through with his knee, not being able to trust it, how the knee feels hollow, or light. The execution from both guys was great throughout. Fish was vicious finding new ways to attack the knee, and I especially liked the few variations of him kicking Perkins' legs out from under him. The flash bridge finish worked well, and man I just really, really liked this.


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Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Collected NXT Reviews

NXT on WWE Network is an enjoyable slice of weekly hour long television, operating out of the same building (almost) every week, giving it an almost 80s territory feel. I've enjoyed what I've seen so much that I figure I'll go through every episode from the beginning. Well, from the beginning of the Network. Nobody wants to see the original SyFy stuff written up (except some weirdos that want an in depth look at Kaitlyn's origin story), and I don't really care about going through the 2012-2013 stuff yet, if it's still even up. So that's right, *the* beginning! If the episode contains a match or segment I thought was worth going out of your way to watch, I'll list it in parentheses next to each episode name, so that the longer this goes on we can get more and more of a comprehensive NXT guide, see whose name pops up the most, etc.


Episode 207 - 2/5/14
Episode 208 - 2/11/14
Episode 209 - 2/18/14 (Breeze vs. Neville)
NXT Arrival - 2/27/14 (Cesaro vs. Zayn, Dallas vs. Neville Ladder Match)
Episode 211 - 3/6/14 (Graves vs. Zayn)
Episode 212 - 3/13/14 (Ryan vs. Blake)
Episode 213 - 3/20/14
Episode 214 - 3/27/14
Episode 215 - 4/3/14
Episode 216 - 4/10/14

Episode 217 - 4/17/14
Episode 218 - 4/24/14 (Graves/Ascension vs. Zayn/Usos)
Episode 219 - 5/1/14 (Brodus vs. Neville No DQ Match)
Episode 220 - 5/8/14
Episode 221 - 5/15/14
Episode 222 - 5/22/14
NXT Takeover - 5/29/14 (Breeze vs. Zayn, Charlotte vs. Natalya, Kidd vs. Neville)
Episode 225 - 6/5/14 (Neville vs. Gabriel)
Episode 226 - 6/12/14
Episode 227 - 6/19/14 (Breeze vs. Kalisto)
Episode 228 - 6/26/14 (RVD vs. Neville)
Episode 229 - 7/3/14
Episode 230 - 7/10/14

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Friday, January 15, 2016

MLJ: Recent Uploads: Solar I vs Blue Panther [FLLM MASTER]

Taped 2015-12-20 @ Arena Coliseo Monterrey
Solar I vs Blue Panther [FLLM MASTER]

This was a joy to watch. It's just a little over twelve minutes, one fall, and it's not perfect, but it's two of the best ever doing what they do in front of an appreciative crowd. Is it perfect? No. the last minute especially falls apart, but it, like so much else in the match, is a testament to the two of them because they never lose credibility in the face of it.

In fact, they have so much built up credit that they're able to not only get away with things they shouldn't be able to, but to make them strengths. The early feeling out matwork is looser than almost anyone else could manage. They're whipping arms about, and countering with such effortless motion, but never for even a second does it seem like they're collaborating. They're just that good. They know it. The crowd know it. We know it, watching. There's a sense of "well, of course Blue Panther got out of that so easily." When they take time to bask in the aftermath of a successful exchange, the respect feels earned and the moment feels warranted. It feels like the right pacing for the match, which is madness when you think about how short it ultimately is. They just bring with them that level of gravitas.

They reward your faith later on too. As the match escalates, it's no longer enough to grab a limb or slip out. Gradually it becomes a matter of Solar rocking his body back and forth multiple times to garner the leverage necessary, or locking in a headscissors and taking Panther all the way over to reverse an armbar, or Panther driving his foot down upon the back of Solar's leg. The hooking and cinching become more complete and complex as well.

Sure, as the match went on, not everything worked. A rolling cradle didn't quite roll (but then was it Panther struggling to fight it? You just can't discount that). Even after hitting a nice headbutt and getting lifted up and over the top for a plancha back into the ring, Solar couldn't quite get up for the lifting dodge in the corner, and the following roll up by Panther didn't quite work. I've seen someone like Blue Panther Jr screw up that corner spot and it completely derail a match. Here, though, it didn't bother me in the least because the context is everything and the recovery was fine. They had been doing not just complex holds, but athletic ones as well, and late match exhaustion, even in a match so short, felt moer than acceptable, even if not entirely warranted, in this situation. I just wish that Solar had gotten Panthers' shoulders down a little more quickly on the finish since the ref had to delay his count by a second, which was probably a proper decision by the referee but not necessarily the right one. Little blips aside, this was a great example of two masters able to combine their skill with their reputation to create something no one else could pull off.

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Luckily Dick Togo Had Something in the Ceiling, Keep Dealing

Extreme Saigon/Guerrero Saigon v. Mighty Mighty/Black Arrow v.  Gavyyn G/Ladykiller SPW 12/5/15- FUN

When we last checked in with Dick Togo it was three years ago and he was wandering through Central America on a retirement tour.  Now he has reappeared working in Vietnam like Col. Kurtz. There has been some shady HH clips of Togo doing his thing in Saigon but this is the first full Dick Togo match in a long while. This is a three way tag opener on a Singaporean indy, with Dick Togo (a guy who worked WWE PPV's and Tokyo Dome shows) under a mask as a fake Vietnamese invader, is Togo hiding from someone? Did he bang a Yakuza's daughter? It is clearly Togo though and he is as crisp as ever, he isn't really the focus, but we do get to see a nasty clothesline or two and a great Tenryu punch/chop combo in the corner. Rest of the match was fine, lots of WWE tribute spots and stuff like that, I dig like Mighty Mighty who had some nice fat guy stuff, and Gavvyn G who was really fast and slick, he had some really cool takedowns and mat stuff, and I might search out some more from him. Still you watch this because one of the 20 greatest wrestler of all time, still arguable in his athletic prime is working Singaporean openers, who knows where he will show up again.


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MLJ: Recent Uploads: Atlantis vs. Silver Fox [mask]

2000-06-18 @ Arena Coliseo Guadalajara
Atlantis vs. Silver Fox [mask]

Sometimes I'm tempted to leave these for (the award-nominated) Phil because he has seniority, but then I think better of that. Who the hell doesn't want to watch an uncovered Atlantis mask match from 2000 as soon as humanly possible?

This was just about everything I wanted it to be, not having any idea who Silver Fox was, and having managed expectations. Up until seeing this, he was always just another name on the list of people who Atlantis conquered, a list that's growing each and every year. Apparently he now still as Toxico and he might even be Antonio Pena's cousin, according to cagematch. Regardless, he had FIVE seconds out in matching red masks (Atlantis had Rayo), and there was awesome chaos in getting them to leave before the match so only one remained.

With apuestas matches like this, where you just know that the tecnico is probably going over, so much of the wonder is in the how they still manage to generate illusion that he might be defeated. That, more than his smoothness or anything is, is my favorite thing about Hijo del Santo, and they worked very hard to achieve it here too.

Fox started exactly as he should have, tearing at the mask, biting, getting blood going from almost the first moment. The primera felt really full. None of Fox's offense was all that great, but Atlantis was huge in garnering sympathy and had the crowd deeply into this. When he made his comeback, got his revenge (including mask ripping and a dive tease) and locked in a submission (right after a foul tease, the first smatterings of a rudo ref coming into play), I half thought that it was just a one fall match, because it felt just shy of being satisfying in and of itself.

They let the revenge settle into the segunda a bit before finally turning things on. In here was a massive back body drop bump outside by Fox (and while his offense wasn't great, he did some things well: play to the crowd, sell, and stooge, especially), and the second dive tease. The real heat and danger came in as the ref fully embraced his rudo leanings, holding Atlantis for a cheapshot which lead to a submission thereafter. The pressure intensified between falls as Fox's seconds returned to swarm Atlantis, only for other luchadores to burst out to stop them (including Olimpico and Emilio Charles). Great mob scene.

The tercera was full of the nearfalls you'd expect, with Fox having the advantage of the ref, getting quick counts against Atlantis, and Atlantis coming back but suffering slow counts. Generally, I love lucha bs. I want triple fake fouls and legs grabbed and masks tossed and all that. I like that stuff as much as crazy dives when it's done well, but I usually draw the line at rudo refs. This was pretty well done, though, since it pressed up against the sheer inevitability of Atlantis winning. It wasn't just to get cheap heat, but instead to get an obstacle in his way. Because of that they were able to do lead to a satisfying finish where, first, Atlantis decided he had enough and finally came back and hit the tope he was teasing all match. Then, when he made the pin, it was with Fox so tied up that you could count to thirty and the ref couldn't do a thing about it.

I wouldn't call this an all time classic. They didn't hit everything quite as well as they should and while the bs was functional and entertaining, there was probably a bit too much of it for it to really reach the next level. That said, an Atlantis mask match where he bled and came back and beat the odds is a hell of a thing. On top of that, this one was pretty smartly put together and build to a great climax. Watch it.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Indie Spotlight: Furious Wrestling Society

4 Corners of Pain Death Match: Corporal Robinson vs. Dale Patricks (11/21/15)

I kind of fell into this fed while watching an old Corp IWA-MS match, and saw in the youtube sidebar a very recent Corp match. I watched [this match] on a lark and loved it more than the IWA match I had watched before it. The fed has a lot of matches uploaded so I took a crack at another Corp match, and while it wasn't the level of the Murdoch match, it was a GREAT Corporal Robinson performance, and a fun little slice of a scuzzy indie scene. The 4 corners of death, in this particular match, are a staple gun, some barbed wire boards, rubbing alcohol, and...jeez I don't remember. Heart disease? A family history of alcohol abuse? Corp does not hold back at all and murders Patricks with punches and elbows to start. His punches are great enough where you can tell he obviously is taking SOMEthing off of them, but you know Patricks is still being punched in the eyebrow. They look great. They look painful. He doesn't look like a guy who would have speedy anything, but Corp always looks like he has impressive punch speed, throwing really quick but devastating haymakers. The staple gun comes out pretty early. Patricks gets kicked in the ass and then gets a couple dollar bills stapled to his face while older women in the crowd jump up and cheer. I am comforted by the knowledge that Patricks got paid at least two dollars for his work.

We spill to the floor and eventually some cheating happens when some guy named Father Fear interferes and attacks Corp. Father Fear is a skinny older guy with a big white beard and a black leather duster. He may be Dusty Hill. He has a weird presence to him, and would probably land somewhere around 0.4 on the Mr. Donnie scale. So Patricks takes over and starts working over Robinson's punching hand, which is really smart considering the nasty shots that hand had been dishing out. I love hand work and we get a bunch of cool stuff, with Patricks slamming it on the ring apron, stomping on it, smashing it into a ringpost, all great stuff, and Corp sells it the whole damn match. Shaking it out, holding it tight against his body. He may not look like a pro wrestler (or, he may look EXACTLY like a pro wrestler), but Corp's wrestling game was on point here. Patricks takes an eternity to gently set up THEE FLIMSIEST barbed wire board you have ever seen. It genuinely looks like barbed wire taped to a sheet of cardboard, and he's gingerly trying to balance it between two chairs. And the punchline is that after all that set up, Patricks goes to give a death valley driver to Corp...and just plants him lower back fucking first over the backs of one of the chairs. Good lord. And these weren't flimsy chairs. They weren't even folding chairs. These are the type of chairs you see stacked in the corners of Indian casinos, just hard metal backs with no give whatsoever. My goodness did it look brutal. It would have been so much better to get tossed through the barbed wire cardboard. But Patricks got paid back for that one, you bet on it. He eventually takes a spinebuster on it and another rough bump, Corp continues beating him with nasty punches, both guys are bleeding all over. At one point Corp uses the rubbing alcohol to light his own fist on fire to punch Patricks.

The match itself was just a step back from the great Robinson/Murdoch taipei deathmatch, held back by some clumsy weapons set up and not as much focus. But it contained an excellent Robinson performance, one of my favorites he's ever delivered. Afterwards we get a satisfying run in beatdown, with Simon Sezz (!) and a guy who looked almost like a Moondog and a big bearded guy who threw down some great stomps. I want to see all of these guys! So yeah, I'm a fan. I'll be watching more Furious Wrestling Society, branch out towards some non-Robinson stuff, get more slices of that sweet Memphis flea market wrestling pie.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

2016 Ongoing MOTY List: Maximo v. Kamaitachi

1. Maximo v. Kamaitachi CMLL 1/1

PAS: This was the co-main event hair match of the Sin Piedad New Year's Day show and was a great start to 2016. First fall had Kamaitachi work over Maximo's knee with some nasty stuff, I loved his diving knees onto Maximo's knee. He eventually gets the submission with a kind of modified figure four, liked the second fall with Maximo still getting brutalized and pulling off a twisty armdrag and then really cranking a single crab to even it out. Third fall was more back and forth, with some really cool stuff. It also felt more like a story with Maximo gritting out the bad leg, this wasn't just a series of crazy spots. Maximo is a great bad leg diver, his topes are awesome looking but he also throws in a subtle but noticeable limp. Finish had a little goofiness with fake fouls that was uneccesary, but otherwise this was awesome stuff.

ER: What a fun match. I like Kamaitachi a lot in CMLL, and he has a wonderful head of hair to put up in a hair match. And it seems like Maximo has to pop up at least once a year on our MOTY list, so he fills his quota pretty quickly here. Kamaitachi is crazy and fully throws himself into everything he does. He's an easy guy to watch, but an easy guy to boo here. We're all used to him in the Dragon Lee feud at this point, and all their match-ups (both in singles and trios) have been go go go. Here we get to see Kamaitachi slow things down and be more sinister. He still gets to be a showy bump machine, but this is much more classic rudo bully picking apart a sympathetic tecnico's knee. And boy does he pick apart Maximo's knee! We start with a low dropkick and it's curtains for Maximo's knee from there. Kamaitachi does a great job of adjusting his signature offense to specifically attack the knee, especially his double knee drop. Maximo's selling is great throughout, and he's already one of the more over tecnicos in CMLL, so the selling bumped him up to an even greater level of sympathy. Crowd is going nuts the whole time, but CMLL also makes sure we see (a lot of) Kamaitachi's big fan as she holds her Kamaitachi mask, gleefully laughs when he's doing well, and sits in shock whenever Maximo turns the table. Of course, they end up showing her so much that it practically feels like she's the one who put her hair on the line. But Maximo is really great at putting over the knee injury, and the topes that it built to were glorious. Now, Kamaitachi still does his lunatic senton off the top to a standing opponent, and it's just crazy. I think I may use the word lunatic a lot, but I'm not sure any move deserves it as much as this senton. Kamaitachi just seems to have minimal regard for his body when doing this move, not caring if the back of his head smashes into the ground, caring most about just wrecking ball leveling his opponent. It's insane. It's awesome. And I liked the end run fake fouls. I thought it actually led to a nice false finish where I bought into Kamaitachi's nearfall (and considering I don't think I've ever seen a Japanese guy win a mask or hair match in CMLL, that should tell you how effective they were at creating this nearfall within the context). I loved the build throughout this match, felt it was one of the best uses of the modern CMLL caida format, with the two quicker first falls and then a longer tercera. A lot of times singles matches feel like they go that way because that's how the fed structures singles matches. This felt like it fit logically into that format, with Kamaitachi working over the knee and getting a quick win in the primera, Maximo getting a flash submission that worked great in the segunda, and then they worked a long tercera without ever making it feel like a 50/50 move exchange, as a lot of CMLL's long singles terceras devolve into. Everything about this was satisfying.


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1. Black Terry vs. Wotan Chilanga Mask 8/21
2. Timothy Thatcher vs. Matt Riddle EVOLVE 66 8/19
3. Black Terry vs. Barbaro Cavernario Cara Lucha 6/11
4. Low-Ki/Homicide/Joker vs. Da Hit Squad JAPW 11/12
5. Trauma 1 vs. Canis Lupus IWRG 9/4
6. Rush vs. LA Park Liga Elite 7/14
7. Roman Reigns vs. AJ Styles WWE Payback 5/1
8. Negro Casas vs. Rey Hechicero Monterrey 4/24
9. Chris Hero vs. Matt Riddle EVOLVE 57 3/20
10. Chris Hero vs. Zack Sabre Jr. WWN Supershow 4/2

11. Jeremiah Crane vs. Mil Muertes Lucha Underground 5/15 (Aired 8/9/17)
12. Fred Yehi vs. Drew Gulak WWN Supershow 4/2
13. Joe Graves vs. JR Kratos Premier XII 3/6
14. Drew Gulak vs. Timothy Thatcher PWG 1/2
15. Drew Gulak/TJ Perkins vs. Zack Sabre Jr./Sami Callihan EVOLVE 54 1/23
16. Black Terry vs. Aero Boy Tulacingo Lucha 6/10
17. Chris Hero/Tommy End vs. Zack Sabre Jr./Sami Callihan EVOLVE 53 1/22
18. Kota Ibushi vs. Cedric Alexander WWE CWC 7/14 (Aired 8/10)
19. Brian Kendrick vs. Kota Ibushi WWE CWC 8/26 (Aired 8/31)
20. Young Bucks vs. Matt Riddle/Jeff Cobb PWG 12/6

21. Johnny Mundo vs. The Mack Lucha Underground 4/24 (Aired 5/31/17)
22. Bandolero/DJ Z vs. Skayde Jr./Gringo Loco AIW 4/30
23. Matt Riddle vs. Trevor Lee EVOLVE 63 6/11
24. Ryoto Hama vs. Yuji Okabayashi BJW 1/24
25. Kalisto vs. Baron Corbin WWE TLC 12/4
26. LA Park vs. Rush Tijuana 6/3
27. Brock Lesnar vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Roman Reigns WWE Fastlane 2/21
28. Akira Tozawa vs. Jack Gallagher WWE CWC 7/14 (Aired 8/17)
29. Chris Hero vs. Matt Riddle EVOLVE 71 10/16
30. Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte WWE Raw 7/25

31. AJ Styles vs. Zack Sabre Jr. Revolution Pro 1/16
32. Tracy Williams vs. Matt Riddle WWN Supershow 4/2
33. Brad Attitude vs. Trevor Lee CWF Mid-Atlantic 12/30
34. Will Ospreay vs. Zack Sabre Jr. EVOLVE 58 4/1
35. Brian Kendrick vs. Raul Mendoza WWE CWC 6/23 (Aired 7/27)
36. Tyler Bateman vs. Jeff Cobb Premier XII 3/6
37. Brian Kendrick vs. Tony Nese WWE CWC 7/14 (Aired 8/17)
38. AJ Styles vs. Dolph Ziggler WWE Smackdown 8/23
39. Chris Hero vs. Keith Lee Beyond Wrestling 12/29
40. Aja Kong vs. Meiko Satomura Sendai Girls' Pro Wrestling 4/8

41. Big E/Xavier Woods vs. Seth Rollins/Roman Reigns vs. Chris Jericho/Kevin Owens WWE Raw 12/12

49. Drew Gulak vs. Tracy Williams EVOLVE 61 5/7
50. Sheamus vs. Cesaro WWE Summerslam 8/21

51. Dr. Cerebro vs. Rey Hechicero Primavera Caliente 4/9
52. Brian Kendrick vs. Rich Swann WWE 205 Live 12/6
53. LA Park vs. Rey Escorpion Liga Elite 11/4
54. Chris Dickinson/Jaka/Mike Draztik/Angel Ortiz vs. Homicide/Low-Ki/Dan Maff/Monsta Mack JAPW 4/30
55. Heidi Lovelace vs. Shayna Baszler AIW 9/9
56. Low Ki vs. Drew Galloway House of Glory 8/19
57. Sami Callihan vs. Timothy Thatcher WXW 3/12
58. Tajiri vs. Gran Metalik WWE CWC 7/14 (Aired 8/10)
59. Rich Swann vs. TJ Perkins WWE CWC 8/26 (Aired 9/7)
60. Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens WWE Royal Rumble 1/24

61. Maximo vs. Kamaitachi CMLL 1/1
62. Matt Riddle vs. Timothy Thatcher EVOLVE 58 4/1
63. Fred Yehi vs. Matt Riddle EVOLVE 54 1/23
64. Fred Yehi vs. Tracy Williams EVOLVE 53 1/22
65. Briscoes/Cheeseburger vs. War Machine/Moose ROH 3/12
66. Matt Riddle vs. Cedric Alexander EVOLVE 62 6/10
67. Dick Togo/Masao Orihara/Ryan Upin vs. Guts Ishijima/CHANGO/Michio Kageyama GUTS World 11/15
68. Mil Muertes vs. King Cuerno Lucha Underground 1/30 (Aired 7/13/16)
69. Rush/Pierroth/Rey Escorpion vs. La Mascara/Terrible/Shocker CMLL 5/20
70. Hideki Suzuki/Yoshihisa Uto vs. Yasufumi Nakanoue/Yuji Okabayashi BJW 5/30

71. Masao Orihara vs. Daisuke GUTS World 2/23
72. Herodes Jr./Heddi Karaoui vs. Zumbi/El Bandido Liga Elite 9/14
73. Killshot vs. Matanza Lucha Underground 3/26 (Aired 10/19/16)
74. Matt Hardy vs. EC3 TNA Impact 7/13 (Aired 7/28)
75. Usos vs. American Alpha WWE Smackdown 9/20
76. Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks WWE Hell in a Cell 10/30
77. Dick Togo/Masao Orihara/Ryan Upin vs. Mr. Gannosuke/CHANGO/Michio Kageyama GUTS World 12/3
78. Negro Casas/Ultimo Guerrero/Euforia vs. Atlantis/Mistico/Valiente CMLL 5/20
79. Chris Hero vs. Katsuyori Shibata RPW 11/11
80. Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Matt Riddle EVOLVE 59 4/2

81. Black Terry vs. Demus 3:16 WMC 8/16
82. LA Park/Super Parka/La Park Jr. vs. Rush/Pierroth/Toscano Liga Elite 4/27
83. Sami Callihan vs. Speedball Mike Bailey CZW 2/13
84. Big E vs. Rusev WWE Raw 3/21
85. Matt Riddle vs. Will Ospreay Progress Wrestling 11/27
86. Hijo del Pantera/Ciclon Ramirez Jr./Dinamic Black vs. El Cuatrero/Forastero/Sanson Liga Elite 8/4
87. Gringo Loco/Steve Pain vs. Facade/Flip Kendrick AIW 11/4
88. Matt Riddle/Tracy Williams vs. Mike Draztik/Angel Ortiz AIW 11/4
89. Dick Togo/Shiryu vs. Hikaru Sato/Rocky Kawamura Tokyo Gurentai 11/28
90. Rey Hechicero vs. Virus Lucha Memes 5/4

91. Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Noam Dar WWE CWC 8/26 (Aired 9/7)
92. Roman Reigns/Usos vs. AJ Styles/Luke Gallows/Karl Anderson WWE Raw 5/2
93. Kevin Owens vs. Cesaro WWE Raw 4/11
94. Satanico vs. Ultimo Guerrero Cara Lucha 4/23
95. Negro Casas vs. Rush Liga Elite 5/4
96. Tomohiro Ishii vs. Katsuyori Shibata NJPW 2/11
97. T-Money/Dirty Russ vs. Evan Adams/Alex Kellar AIW 11/4

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