Segunda Caida

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

Monday, February 29, 2016

Battle Arts Professional Wrestling Pilot

PAS: Nothing the Segunda Caida establishment loves more then BattlArts, and while this is Battle Arts the Canadian wrestling school run by Santino, they both have Yuki Ishikawa and I am interested to check out how Yuki's students are going, and any chance to see the legend in action is well worth it.

Mercenary Mike Dorosti v. Randy Reign

PAS: The commentary on this match was pretty bad, acentless Santino was fine but Freedom Wallace's fake Bobby Heenan was bad even in the subset of indy wrestling commentators doing fake Bobby Heenan. This is a TV pilot, you probably shouldn't have one of your announcers talking about how much both wrestlers suck and how bad the match is. The match itself wasn't great, both guys are pretty big,  but this had the feel of an ECWA heavyweight match from 2002, some power moves which looked okay, some questionable punches and clotheslines and a lot of epic match selling. This goes 20 minutes and neither guy had the wind for that, by the end it looked less like selling and more like Kimbo v. Dada 3000.  Dorosti had a local pizzaria owner or something working as a face manager and he kept checking his phone during the match. Nothing BatllArtsy about this, this was bog standard heavyweight indy wrestling.

The Compound (Buck Gunderson, Karou and Smiles) v. DJ/Dustin Quicksilver and Randy Bynoe

PAS: This was really an example of how a formula six man tag can hide limitations. This was an entertaining match, and it was clear that some of the guys were greener then Dorosti and Reign. I liked all of the heels, Gunderson has a gimmick of promising ice cream to the kids in the audience and not delivering which is some solid old school shit. He is a fun cheap shot artist, always running when he gets confronted, but being really nasty when he has the advantage. I like Karou as an indy Meng, he had a nice headbutt and good stomps, Smiles has a great name and look for a crazy guy, although he didn't wrestle particularly crazy. The heels cut off the ring on Quicksilver and beat him up a bunch till he got a hot tag and then everything broke loose, basic pro-wrestling done well. This wouldn't be a standout match on a Mid-South Coliseum show in 1985, but it would be well worth everyones time, and they would be excited for Jerry Lawler to get his hands on Buck Gunderson.

Yuki Ishikawa v. Freedom Wallace

PAS: Wow, so Yuki Ishikawa is still who he is. This was by far the best of your Canuk Ishikawa, as Wallace was truly game to work a main event match. Match had the mix of beautiful grappling and harrowing violence you want in a Yuki Ishikawa main event. Opens up with rolling for submissions and Ishikawa is just breathtaking at grabbing limbs and necks and twisting them off, he is always looking to improve his position, and switch to something nasty, Wallace did a nice job not being completely overwhelmed and had some nice counters of his own. The match really hit another gear when it got chippy, Ishikawa gets top position and cracks Wallace in the ear with a slap and digs a hook into his ribs. Wallace gets an elevator, top position and cleans the plaque off of Yuki's teeth with a forearm, and that set the tone. There were parts of this match that got more pro wrestling, and even Wallaces stomps and dropkicks had some real steam on them. There was this great moment when Ishikawa loads up a nasty surfboard which Wallace breaks with an eye rake. When Ishikawa gets his bearings he unloads with hell and for a moment we reached Ikeda v. Ishikawa. Match just had me grinning all night. The rest of this show was pretty forgettable, but man you give me an Ishikawa match a month I am deeply in.

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Sunday, February 28, 2016

MLJ: Black Terry Boot Camp 11: Blue Panther & Negro Casas vs Black Terry & Solar I (Elite)

2016-02-28 @ Arena Mexico
Blue Panther & Negro Casas vs Black Terry & Solar I

This is yesterday's Maestro Match from the Elite show, so you're not going to get more up to date Black Terry than this. It's also another chance to see him against Negro Casas. It's shot pretty far off, but the action is easy to follow, even if you lose some nuance with facial expressions. I'm not going to complain as this was up less than twenty-four hours after the show.

This ran around fifteen minutes, one fall, without any real heat or comeback or anything like that. Structurally, it was a Solar vs Panther segment, a Casas vs Terry segment, and then them breaking things up so that it'd go back to Solar vs Panther, back to Terry vs Casas, switch briefly to Panther vs Terry, and end with Solar vs Casas. The point there is that we got to see everyone do everything with everyone else, which was a good thing. The draws to this match were going to be the strikes between Casas and Terry and some of the complex submissions between Panther and Solar, but everyone here is more than capable of doing everything.

The good stuff was very good. Casas drew the crowd in, but Terry got his share of chants as well. I loved it whenever they were in together, with nasty strikes all around and a sense of struggle over everything they did, be it a strike or a drop toehold. Terry, at one point, reversed a sleeper into a side slam, which you just don't see much in lucha. Casas' spinning back kick remains the best cut off move in wrestling, and they did a great job of escalating the strikes. They meant a lot more later in the match than at the beginning and it was all punctuated with a funny headbutt spot from Terry. Solar and Panther did some interesting and complex matwork. Solar's escapes and reversals were especially good and he locked some neat stuff including a swinging boston crab. On some of his stuff, it was obvious that Panther was serving as a good, strong base.

The age showed at times, not so much with Terry and Casas, but with the others. Solar fell off the ropes at one point, but Panther's recovery into a roll up was very good and they picked up the pace right after, really snapping into the next few moves to make up for it. I value the ability to recover well as much as almost anything else and their recovery here was flawless. It's notable, however, that when Casas and Terry came in the first time, I wondered for a second if I didn't have the video at 1.5x speed suddenly, somehow, because they were able to go a higher gear out of the gate.

This had a lot of fun stuff, but it's definitely helped by the fact that it's brand new. It's very much a "good for what it is" sort of match, especially compared to the IWRG from 2010 I've been watching, but in 2016, we're lucky to have new footage of any combination of these four go at it. There are so few Terry vs Casas matches out there, so that was especially nice.

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Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Comprehensive Segunda Caida Review of nWo Souled Out, Part I

Months back I did a fire fundraiser for my friend and co-worker Jan, who lost her home and all of her possessions in a terrible rampaging forest fire that scorched 2,000 structures and ended up costing $700 million in insurance losses. Many of you kindly and lovingly donated, and with my donations I was able to raise well over $500 for her. In the grand scheme of life, it's not a whole lot. But I have no doubt that it helped immensely in the moment. One of the requests of me, from reader Nick P, has not yet been written by me. Here's Nick's request:

"Hiya, big fan of your work. Extra points for how sweet it is to do this.

Anyway I donated $20, and since I've never read a satisfyingly substantive analysis of the pay-per-view anomaly that is the original nWo Souled Out (1997), that is my request. Presumably it's in there on the Network... I'd link but I don't have a subscription. Thanks.

(Would have chosen the ranking of Lawler punches but you'll probably get to that on your own someday.)"

Not only did he break out a fine Marvin Monroe "Hiya", but he even takes things far enough to politely compliment me in two distinct and equally wonderful ways, feigning that he both is a big fan of my work, while also thinking I'm sweet (an underrated and underutilized compliment for a man to receive from another man). So he's already off to a great start.

And onto the request itself, for a satisfyingly substantive analysis of the original nWo Souled Out PPV from 1997. Now I can tell you that I have never seen this PPV, as it occured during a period where I had yet to get back into pro wrestling, and upon coming back into the fold of pro wrestling viewers I would not say I actively avoided this PPV, but didn't find it necessary to go far out of my way to see this PPV. Because, as some of you likely know, it's not supposed to be a very good PPV. I truthfully don't even know what matches are on the card, but I seem to remember without Googling anything that it was not well received. And Nick wants a "satisfyingly substantive analysis". In life, mostly, I am a man of my word. And because of that I want to give Nick everything he possibly could have desired or meant when he requested a "satisfyingly substantive analysis" of nWo Souled Out 1997. I am going to do the most exhaustive, pointless, dreadful, and poorly researched piece of writing than any human has ever done on this PPV. And all because Nick was a kind enough person to help out a stranger in need. And Nick, this is all possible because of you. I hope you enjoy this. If not, you know...just feel free to request something else.

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The year was 1997, and mayor Lee Clancey had a vision. He had accomplished his first vision in 1995, when he was named "mayor with the most racist sounding name in Cedar Rapids' history". Lee Clancey wanted to bring pay per view professional wrestling to his city. Previous mayors had brought in large attractions: Don Canney brought in globally acclaimed asshole shitnoise makers Yes; Larry Serbousek brought in a minor league Twins affiliate and a pretty nice shopping mall; but Clancey wanted to bring THEE World Championship Wrestling in to play the grandaddy of them all, The Five Seasons* Center.

Cedar Rapids has the 2nd largest population in Iowa, a fact you would know if you drove past their official city sign, which reads "Now entering Cedar Rapids. We're not Des Moines, but we're sure as hell not Dubuque." Clancey read that sign almost every day, as he drove past it on his way to the Office of the Mayor from his nearby home in Iowa City. "We're not Dubuque. We're never going to be Dubuque. But if I can bring in the biggest pro wrestling stars in the world, maybe the world will finally stop getting us mixed up with Dubuque. Hollywood Hogan, Scotty Riggs, Kevin Nash....all the big boys...playing in CR..."

WCW had set up camp in Cedar before, some 3 years prior, for Clash of the Champions XXVIII. Eric Bischoff was impressed by the charming yet industrious burg, childhood home of acting superstar Elijah Wood, birthplace of award winning newspaper the Cedar Rapids Gazette. Bischoff was more than game to return to a place with ample walking trails, diverse dining, and a charmingly open culture. He would bring his biggest stars - Scott Hall, Hugh Morrus, Scott Steiner - back to this jewel of the midwest, and home of Iowa's African American Museum.

On the afternoon of January 25, 1997, Eric Bischoff and Lee Clancey would get exactly what they want:

To give a big old Iowa FUCK YOU to Dubuque Second Ward Representative Roy D. Buol.

Roy D. Buol's winter was about to get alllllll kinds of torn up. And right after he had the best Autumn of his life.

To Be Continued.....

*Iowans celebrate 5 seasons throughout their calendar year, listed officially as Winter, Spring, Summer (called "Shorts Season" under mayor Serbousek's disastrous 1992-'95 mayoral reign), Autumn (also Brown Leaves Days) and lastly The Scent of Iowans Own Smug Self-Righteousness


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Friday, February 26, 2016

MLJ: Black Terry Boot Camp 10: Black Terry, Chico Che, Dr. Cerebro vs Avisman, El Hijo del Diablo, Gringo Loco

2010-3-14 @ Arena Naucalpan
Black Terry, Chico Che, Dr. Cerebro vs Avisman, El Hijo del Diablo, Gringo Loco

Terry, Chico Che, Dr. Cerebro vs Avisman... by thecubsfan

Phil pointed me this way. Granted, he pointed me to things not currently online, and then pointed me to this as a consolation prize. I might have to dive deeper into this feud though. You get a sense of it from this, which was a TV match. If Terry had the Dinistia Navarro feud that would be enough for 2010 but he had this too.

It's my first look at Gringos VIP, though I'd seen Avisman once or twice before. They had a great act. It was low rent in all the best, sleaziest ways, with them flaunting the US colors and sunglasses that made them look like the unabomber. It's good that they had a great act too since they took most of this match. I'm okay with that. I'd much rather see a match that was 70% beatdown than 70% tecnico clowning. That said, it has to be a good beatdown and this definitely was. The Gringos had a lot of tandem offense, played crowd control well, and were pretty brutal in their execution. Just as important, there was a great hope spot-ish comeback to end the primera, and a lot of heat in the finish.

Terry's side didn't have a lot to do, other than get beaten up, which was a shame because this wasn't a great look for me at Chico Che. What they did do was great, however. Cerebro was a bit delayed in making it out, which lead to the initial numbers game allowed beatdown. When he finally got into things, however, it was with a big dive from the crowd and a comeback, even so early into the match, that felt triumphant (even if it was cut off, both for a flash rudo finish and to lead into the segunda).

Terry's so good at so many things, but I'd yet to really see him on this side of a rudo beatdown in a trios brawl. He shined at that too, doing a great job at fighting back not just valiantly but violently and getting overwhelmed to build sympathy while still looking strong. How can someone who throws headbutts around like that not look strong? The little I got to see from Che looked great too. He was the babyface part of this equation which allowed for the heat to be actual heat, as Terry and Cerebro were rudos. He was the heart of things in that regard, but also had some killer big guy offense when he got to show it (and a great headbutt too).

When the comeback finally came it was goofy but solid, with extraneous objects that were meant to embarrass and were sold like death. That was pretty goofy, and the indy heel ref stuff was frustrating, but this was good enough to make me want to see more.

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

NXT Episode 218 4/24/14 Review

JBL (who apparently is going to be all over this show now, and just wasn't mentioned as being affiliated with NXT at all for many months) tells Paige she's going to need to vacate the NXT Women's Title, since she's now Divas Champion. There's going to be a women's tournament which could at least serve as a way to introduce a couple of lesser seen faces, or debut someone. We'll see. Tournaments can be pretty lazy, and Paige herself is still there so why not just put her in regular title matches until she loses the belt? It's not as satisfying as building to an actual title match, but I think it would be far more interesting than a tournament. Have JBL say that Paige will be too busy defending the Divas title, and we need to keep the NXT title in NXT, have her face a series of challengers, and if she loses then you get your new champ, and if she keeps winning then maybe the women of NXT need to work harder before they get their title back full time in the fed.

1. Alexander Rusev vs. Travis Tyler

Pretty mechanical squash, with Tyler at least rushing him at the bell with a dropkick. Rusev's knees to the body looked good, his 12-6 elbows down into Tyler's traps looked mean, he had a couple nice slams and a great rushing Vader bear attack, really wrenched in the Accolade. Crowd chanting is getting more and more annoying each show, here they tried sloppily to sing Adam Rose's song. Too cool to watch a 90 second long squash and react to actual violence.

2. Charlotte & Sasha Banks vs. Emma & Paige

Nothing offensive, but nothing that stood out about this match either. In a short match they "built" to two different moments where the legal team members were slowwwwly crawling to make the hot tag, each looking over their shoulders to make sure they time it right. Ugh. I liked Paige's rolling short arm clotheslines, with her not letting go of Sasha's arm. Sasha had a couple nice moments as well, like stomping on Emma's fingers and selling her neck nicely on a tag. Emma looked lost a few times, and again her gimmick may be a smart way to cover up these kind of moments. Paige also sold Charlotte's neck snap finish nicely, holding her jaw as her lights went out. Eh.

3. Tyson Kidd vs. Mason Ryan

Fun little match with a dumb little finish. I thought they were going for the same thing they did last week with the returning Oliver Grey getting run over by Camacho. Here Tyson Kidd returned and Mason Ryan steamrolled him for much of the match, which makes sense with the size difference. Kidd was good making openings for himself, trying leg kicks, trying to scramble, but I really liked Ryan's power offense here. He caught a leg and did a cool double leg rushing slam into the corner, dropped a nice leg, grabbed Kidd on a springboard and dropped him with a press slam dropped into a pancake. I was into Ryan beating him down and Kidd fighting back. And then Ryan missed a charge and Kidd hit a so-so Blockbuster and that ended it. Woof. What a flat finish, with no build, and won by a move that looked like one of the weaker things hit in the whole match.

4. Angelo Dawkins vs. Tyler Breeze

Man Breeze needs a better finisher than the Beauty Shot. His squash matches always see him wrenching on necks and doing other nice ground stuff, but then end with him doing a standing floaty spinning heel kick. It usually looks like one of the weakest moves of the match. His side headlock looks way nastier than that kick. I'd never seen Dawkins before, but this didn't really have anything to judge him by.

5. Corey Graves & The Ascension vs. Sami Zayn & The Usos

Give a trios with capable workers some time and it's tough to have a bad match. It's pretty easy to have a solid trios with only 3/6 of the workers being capable. And this is a fine, workmanlike six man tag that gets 13 minutes and has plenty of fun moments. It felt like it could have gone much higher, as oddly enough I got a real house show match vibe out of the Usos. And don't get me wrong, I LOVE house shows. I'd go to a house show 10 times out of 10 over a TV taping. You get three types of matches on house shows: Guys getting the opportunity to work longer matches than they normally get, veterans working matches playing to the crowd instead of playing to the hard camera, and guys going through the motions and saving themselves for the cameras. The first two types are great. The third type is what the Usos were doing here. Except it was on camera. I get it, you gotta know when to dial it back. It was just disappointing as nobody else in the match was dialing it back. SO I LEAD WITH THE NEGATIVE...but I liked the match quite a bit. Corey Graves has probably been the most pleasant NXT surprise so far. The guy is good and knows how to carry himself. Too bad about them injuries. Early on he does a fist drop off the ropes and I'm like I FUCKING GET IT YOU'RE AWESOME. Viktor was also a stand out and did some cool things you don't see, like kicking Zayn's planted leg while Graves was holding his other one. It should also be mentioned that Albert was terrible on commentary. This guy is the worst. Not only does he do that super phony fake overly excited "Look how much fun this is!!" thing that most WWE commentators are taught to do, but he does countless annoying things during matches. Here he loudly chanted along with the U-SOS chants, says lame ass stuff like "Daddy would be proud" after the Usos do a running hip attack (even though that was Umaga who did that, not Rikishi), and built up narratives within the match that had zero chance of going anywhere ("Who is Jey going to tag, his brother or Zayn!?" Who fucking cares? Certainly not the wrestlers in the actual match.). But no matter. Graves was a slimy shithead, Ascension are better in NXT than you'd think, Zayn is a really good babyface, Usos dogged it but slotted into the formula just fine, and this was a perfectly fine 6 man. Shame Graves had to lose clean, but I get it.


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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

MLJ: Black Terry Boot Camp 9: Black Terry vs Rey Hechicero (11/15/2015)

2015-11-15 @ Unidad Deportiva Martin Alarcon Hisojo, Metepec, Estado de México
Black Terry vs Rey Hechicero

After how fun the two 2014 matches were, I had to go out of my way to see this one. I wasn't disappointed either. This wasn't a war like their last two matches, but they still went at it with the same amount of intensity and aggression. They just never quite reached that level of violence.

I know people think that Hechicero is better on the indies, and for the most part he is because he has more freedom and a more appreciative audience, but I do think that working all of the CMLL cards has helped made him better. He's more of a big picture wrestler than he was before, and ironically, part of that is paying more attention to the little things. I love what he does with his hands these days, all of the over the top conjuring and wizardry. It makes him stand out and draws the crowd in. It got him over way bigger in Japan than he would have been otherwise, but it all fits into what he's doing too. It comes off as mind games. It's the character work where I think he's come the most. It wasn't just that but all the trash talking he did here.

Like I said, this had all the intensity you could while staying mostly by the books. They were moving at a rapid pace, grabbing limbs and locking in counters. This might have been the first match I've seen where the cross-limb stuff wasn't just to add intrigue and painful contortions to the submissions but to actually, actively prevent countering. If someone's tied up, that's one less limb that they can use to find a way out with. Usually, it's just lip service to that, but here, both wrestlers had such a hard time getting an advantage that it really resonated.

Once things stopped being so even, this really got good. Hechicero taunted. Terry slapped the taste out of his mouth. Hechicero took an advantage. Terry escalated his game by slamming Hech's knee onto the mat again adn again. Hechicero rolled through for an anklelock (which he tried repeatedly in the match). And it kept going from there. By the time they finally started to do some of their more signature holds and moves, they had earned the end-of-match exhaustion selling, even in a one fall match, and that exhaustion played well into the finish.

I really think that Terry could be Hechicero's best opponent. Watching them match up is well worth a few bucks. Check this out.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Lucha Underground Season 2 Episode 4: Cero Miedo

ER: They're doing a pretty decent job at building to the eventual Ivelisse/Catrina throwdown. I'm not sure if they're going to play it for comedy by having Catrina lose her wig, or play it like some sort of noir Bound scenario. Probably the latter.

1. Angelico, Ivelisse & Son of Havoc vs. Chavo Guererro, Mr. Cisco & Cortez Castro

ER: Ehhhh this wasn't much. It wasn't bad, but some of these guys have a decent ceiling w/ a low floor, so you can expect some lows occasionally. I forgot how much I missed Cisco on TV, the guy is a real MVP in these type of matches. He feeds Angelico really nicely (really jammed right into that running knee) and even with some miscommunication on an armdrag he makes it look more like a violent move than a mistake. I liked Chavo and Ivelisse going after the others' legs to play up their Season 1 injuries, and this doesn't have much to do with anything but Ivelisse had awesome pants on. Havoc had a rough night, throwing some embarrassing standing clotheslines (I think that's what those were) and some stuff with pillowy soft landings.  The dive train was a real mess with Angelico coming far closer to plowing into the dad in cargo shorts than he was to hitting Castro, Havoc's moonsault barely grazed, and this kinda just limped to the finish.

PAS: Yeah this was OK, but these teams had way better matches last season with Bael in there instead of Chavo, and Chavo is a lot better then Bael. Yeah this was the worst Son of Havoc has looked, I am shocked how much I have enjoyed Matt Cross in this fed, but this was the Matt Cross I have been indifferent to for the last decade.

ER: Boy that Joey Ryan/Castro "act off" was just about the least convincing thing possible. These guys showing off their acting chops is brutal. "I've always been a better cop than you...because I get the job DONE." Yeeeeeesh. Picture that line in a Treat Williams CBS docudrama. It's possible James Caan could make that line cool, but even then I imagine the cameras would cut and Caan would immediately yell "What is this fucking SCRIPT!?"

PAS: Yeah if you're going to do this stupid cop shit, hire someone who can write some lines, it's LA every guy working at the Sprint store has a NCIS New Orleans spec script, you can't find anyone who can at least script B- cop speak?

2. Joey Ryan vs. Cage

ER: Striker says Cage isn't like one of those Crossfit guys, he's just a normal guy. Yep, looks like any ol' normal guy. Just a regular Joe. Though Vampiro calls him 320 lb. which is just as hilarious. The match is plenty of fun though, even if they don't really follow their own narratives. Cage was especially fun, throwing big lariats with nice follow through, a tight powerslam, big missed corner charge, and putting a nice exclamation point on things with a nasty Screwdriver. "If it's a scoring thing, Joey has more nearfalls in this match than Cage does." Oh my god shut up Striker. But I thought Cage looked really explosive throughout, so it was (mostly) easy to tune Striker out.

PAS: Joey Ryan is who we thought he was. I am not sure Cage v. Mundo is going to be any good but both guys have surprised me so far in this show.

ER: It's fitting that this show is on El Rey, as Dario's backstory is basically the plot of Q: The Winged Serpent, except pro wrestling fleshes out the non-Aztec lore instead of Michael Moriarty as Jimmy the screw up. If this fed ever approaches a scene as great as Moriarty negotiating with cops over Quetzalcoatl's whereabouts and capture, then I will be on cloud nine.

PAS: Poor Rey. Stuck spouting this nonsense. Rey is an all time legend in wrestling, this is like watching Al Pacino in Jack and Jill.

3. Prince Puma vs. Pentagon Jr.

ER: Killer stuff with a bad finish that was already played out in the 90s, that the fans saw coming a mile away. These two work great together so the match itself was wonderful. Pentagon got a nice long non-gimmick match and beat Puma's ass, and I loved Puma using his speed to keep slipping away. Puma moonsaulting into a Pentagon dropkick was just crazy, Pentagon's chops were nasty as hell, Puma hits a big dive, loved the Pentagon corner flip backstabber, I mean basically everything these guys did looked great. I was really into it all. Then Pentagon plants him with that nasty package piledriver, and starts setting up a surfboard instead of going for the sure win. You can hear fans start to go noooooooooo as we all saw shenanigans coming, and sure enough, instead of just stretching him all nasty like, he goes for a stupid pin which leaves his shoulders down. This was maybe the loudest groan I've ever heard from the LU crowd, as right when the 3 was counted most people knew exactly what had happened, because again, that shit was played out 20 years ago. I know popular culture can recycle itself and seem fresh again, but "innovative wrestling finishes" don't ever seem fresh again. A real fart noise to end a cool match.

PAS: This was pretty good up until the end, but it felt a little inconsequential for such a big match. They normally do a good job delivering on big matches in a way that lives up to hype, this felt like a Nitro main event. For the first time ever Hulk Hogan v. Bret Hart, three minutes later the NWO Wolfpack runs in. That finish is stinky, since when is that even a Pentagon Jr. move? It would have worked way better if he had just going for the arm break and had Puma roll him up.

ER: Just when you thought Sexy Star couldn't possibly screw up anything worse than she already has, she delivers two of the worst possible reads you will ever hear. She had about 5 words to attempt to not mangle, and brother, she mangled every single part of it. Not HEEEM....HERRRRRRRR, complete with shaky finger point. Was this a one and done take? What could the other takes have possibly looked like? Did Sexy Star win a sweepstakes? Is she like Batkid, and the whole fed is just banding together to give her the experience of a lifetime?

PAS: Remember when the vignettes were cool? Outside of Vampiro in the insane asylum, everything this season has stunk. Another below average episode. Come on LU give me some love.


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Monday, February 22, 2016

MLJ: Black Terry Boot Camp 8: Atlantis, Blue Panther, Negro Casas vs Black Terry, Negro Navarro, Solar I (CMLL)

2013-08-16 @ Arena Mexico
Atlantis, Blue Panther, Negro Casas vs Black Terry, Negro Navarro, Solar I

I dropped the few dollars for the 2015 Hechicero vs Black Terry match and while I liked it a lot, I'm going to wait on Wednesday for that so I can do it more justice. Also, I don't like having too long a string of matches that people can't watch for themselves, so let's hotshot this one in.

This was part of Blue Panther's 35th Anniversary celebration and he introduced the now BP, Jr. and The Panther here. He also wore his mask for the night, which CMLL had let people know about a week before, just to prepare them. He took it off, after the fact. It was a maestros match and the fans were generous with money after the fact, but it was absolutely lacking something compared the stuff from the indies I've been seeing. I don't want to outright say that Atlantis was the weak link in the match but there was a sense of everything being slowed down for him in a way that stood out even though you didn't want it to.

I'd rather focus on a few positives. I jumped at this, not just to see Navarro and Terry in a different setting, but to see Negro Casas against both of them. When it comes to Terry, there aren't a lot of opportunities, though they feuded back in the early 80s over titles and what not, and we live in a hugely unfair world that I can't watch those right now, but that's the UWA for you. No Tv, nothing taped. Thankfully, here, they rotated the pairings throughout the match and both Casas match-ups were as good as you'd hope for.

First, something about Navarro in 2013. He's just not as flexible as he once was. You'd think this would be a hindrance but there's something about his obstinate charisma that makes it a plus. There's the sense that he's pushing himself a few extra inches to wrap his leg around someone's head, or twist his legs in, and it makes everything feel more painful and grittier somehow. I'm not sure I've ever seen a wrestler that actively defies his age in this way quite like Navarro and it's fascinating and hugely compelling. He and Casas were the biggest characters in the match, like watching the King of Siam butt heads with Old Stick. It was iconic.

Terry vs Casas was even better, though. They didn't pair off until the tercera, but by that point, things had escalated enough that in the midst of this maestros celebration match, they could just tear into one another. It was about two minutes of everything I'd want from them. Given his size and look, Terry fights with the unexpected intensity of a cornered animal and there are very few people in wrestling who can trade blows as dynamically as Casas. They kept it mostly simple with holds, but the two of them working front facelocks was somehow still awesome. And Casas, like in almost every match I've ever seen him in, did something I'd never seen him do before. Look at the way he just crushes the leg:

This was fun for what it was, but what it was just made me appreciate what I have been watching from the indies all the more.

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Sunday, February 21, 2016

WWE Fastlane 2016 Live-ish Blog

1. 2/3 Falls: Alberto Del Rio vs. Kalisto

ER: Wow, the U.S. Title match is on the pre-show?? The main card is filled with such important stuff that the 2/3 falls match just can't squeeze in. That must mean the main card is stacked, right? I really haven't loved how these two have matched up in their previous 19 matches over the last month, but it's possible they'll turn it on when the lights are at their brightest (which is the pre-show of the PPV wedged in between their two important PPVs). But guess what, this completely rules. ADR went after the arm at the bell, Kalisto countered with leg kicks and tried to game him with fast roll-ups, and then ADR awesomely ended the 1st fall by braining Kalisto with a chair after taking a rana into the timekeeper's stall. I loved the psych, like Rude/Steamboat iron man of taking a step back to take a few forward. Right after getting DQ'd ADR just pounced on him and starting tossing him into every barrier, really punishing him before getting the inevitable 2nd fall. ADR hits his double stomp off the barrier into the ground and it looked really good, just stomping right through Kalisto. But Kalisto's little hope spots and headscissors were nice, loved ADR flinging himself into the mat on the short rana, loved him getting spiked on a tornado DDT, loved the snap on ADR's spinning backbreaker, loved little things like Kalisto able to roll to the floor to avoid potential pinfalls, just really thought they clicked in a way that I think has been missing from all of their many prior matches. Finish was cool with ADR setting up Kalisto for the stomp and Kalisto fighting back while on the buckles. It would have looked too ADR just lifting himself into the move) so I loved the direction they took, with him doing a lucha head drag to toss ADR into the buckles and then getting that flash pin he had been trying for early. Really fun stuff here.

2. Sasha Banks & Becky Lynch vs. Naomi & Tamina

ER: Wow Tamina is still really bad. How long has she been on the roster? 5 years? Stunned her last name has allowed her to last this long while still looking this terrible. Watch her whiff on a lariat, then admire her limp chinlock, then admire her awkwardly dragging Lynch away from the ropes to pin her even though Lynch wasn't near the ropes. You also are not shocked that she punches worse than Michael Shane. Everybody else looked really good though, but damn Tamina was in so much of this. Lynch takes a wild bump to the floor, really launching herself off a Tamina throw. I loved how they filmed Lynch trying to tag in Sasha, as at first it looked like Sasha jumped out of the way of the tag, before they revealed that Naomi had yanked her down. Loved the Sasha/Naomi segment as Naomi was great feeding Sasha, and they set up the Rear View perfectly with Sasha chasing Tamina around and back into the ring while Naomi laid in wait. Tamina for her part even hit a nice superkick down the stretch, so even she wasn't an entire waste. I really liked this, thought the ladies who normally looked good, looked good.

3. Kevin Owens vs. Dolph Ziggler

ER: Ziggler's hair immediately makes me want to watch him take a stomping. Man what an asshole. Half-mast cornrows. Wow. Either go all the way and have tons of beads, or just turn heel already. This haircut would be majestic on a heel. Imagine Rush showing up at Arena Mexico with this haircut. It would be amazing. But a guy I'm supposed to be backing? Ehhhhhh. Owens does politely grant me my wish right out of the gate, by ambushing Ziggler with a thrust headbutt and commencing the beating. I dig all of Owens' sentons, with that one to a on-all-fours Ziggler being especially mean. Both guys see who can take a bump into the buckles better, and it's a tough call between Ziggler violently running shoulder first into it (looked so painful in slo-mo) or Owens flying into the post and crashing to the floor. Ziggler's comeback is hot and his jumping elbows looked so good. We eventually break down into big moves nearfall territory, but I actually kept digging it the whole way through. Ziggler's HBK tribute act is confusing and strange. But all their shit looked good, and even though Owens seems to have taken some shit online lately I thought he was good here. Crazy that his twisting superplex is not a finisher, but I loved him scrambling behind the ref to dodge the superkick,  dug the rana into the ring steps, loved Owens mocking a fan's "Ohio Hearts Ziggler" sign and ripping it out of his hands postmatch. Yeah this mostly devolved into overkill, but it never really bugged me. Sometimes overkill immediately makes me zone out, and other times it doesn't. I am an inconsistent, infuriating human being. But I liked this. 

4. The Wyatt Family vs. Big Show, Ryback & Kane

ER: If Kane has to be around, I'd rather have him lumped in a 6 man. And Ryback with a nice missile dropkick. That looked really cool. I liked Harper/Ryback (those Harper palm strikes!!!), actually liked Ryback/Braun as Braun looks dangerous in a slightly untrained way, but still threw some really nice kicks to the stomach....but then Kane/Rowan look several miles off during their exchanges. And I just noticed Saxton is just standing there behind the announce desk. What a shithead. There are no other chairs we can get this guy? Is this one of those jackoff punishments because Saxton took the large piece of chicken breast from catering? Ryback's "Big Guy" tights are really embarrassing. That's like something you'd see on a dog sweater, or a newborn baby onesie, or something you'd wear to leather night at the White Swallow. Rowan has the pinfall break-up of the night with a massive splash out of nowhere to crush Ryback, and Big Show does a killer press slam on Harper to the floor. Love press slams and that one was huge. Love Show's running shoulder tackle on Braun too. Even Kane looked good booting Bray, who went down like a shot. Holy shit this got good right before it ended. This is a really fun night of wrestling so far.

ER: What in the hell is this Vince MacMahon Legacy Award for Ultimate Big Dick Excellence nonsense? This can't be legit, right? Is it just something for HHH and Steph to trade wins on every year? I can picture JBL now "Mahgul you're looking at the 7 time Vince MacMahon Excellence of the Universe Award winner, the Game!!"

ER: Wow the WWE Photoshop department deserves HUGE credit for making Ric Flair look like a human being in the Charlotte/Brie pre-match graphic. I mean holy shit they made him look like a god! This is beyond blending in Shawn Michaels' hair tuft, they straight gave Flair an actual person face. You see him in the hype video and his face is a bloated, stretched, toothy plastic surgery mess. But in that graphic he's got warm steely eyes, a strong jaw, actual facial definition, lush and short fashionable haircut instead of that patchy constantly wet and slick mess he's been working with for many years. Good work team, all around.

5. Brie Bella vs. Charlotte

ER: Really getting sick of Ric at ringside for every Charlotte match. It's not doing her any favors at this point. Match was better than I expected it to be. Slow pace is probably the best to avoid anything blown, though even then both of them had some sketchy moments. I liked the Alabama Slam spot with Brie hanging on through a couple attempts, and the end run got good with that nice Brie dropkick to Charlotte on the apron. Dug the Yes Lock rolled into a really sick single leg crab. Submissions in Divas matches always look so killer because they're so bendy, but I thought they made it look good. I have a feeling Charlotte will be champion for fucking ever and I'm in for a lifetime of "RESPECT HER CHAMPION BLOOD" JBL horseshit.

6. Chris Jericho vs. AJ Styles

ER: Man Byron Saxton is the worst, and that's with Michael Cole and JBL plopped around you. Oh yeah, Styles grew up admiring Jericho's Japan work? What Japan stuff is that Byron? I do like that they're pushing Styles as a teenager who tape traded for WAR tapes. If at any point your booking of any wrestler is to make them sound like teenage me, it means you fucked up. "Styles used to love tape trading and practicing the trombone and going over baseball stats on his bedroom floor!" And I'm not really sure how I feel about this match. Half of it felt like AJ slowing down his shit so Jericho could keep up. But sometimes Jericho's rustiness clicked with what Styles was doing. I loved Jericho's super quick bump over the turnbuckles to the floor, and then him catching Styles with a dropkick off a plancha right after was good enough to hold up in slo-mo. But then there was flat out painful stuff like Styles setting up the springboard spot for endless seconds as Jericho got in position, or Jericho kinda just falling off the ropes to do the Walls counter. We hilariously have the Styles Clash kicked out of, in what is like Styles third match in the company. If he kicked out of it, at least the match ended right after with the calf crusher, as I can buy using the last of your strength to kick out and having nothing left to defend the sub. Jericho on TV just doesn't work for me though. I really like old man workers, as there's this extra level of sympathy with them just being older and slower and more frail, and extra excitement when they make their comebacks. They're just easier to get behind. But Jericho doesn't work as sympathetic old man, he still works like move for move workrate star, except he's slow and sloppy. His whole thing just doesn't work for me.

ER: I saw an ad for the Edge/Christian show earlier in the program and in 20 seconds they managed to make me cringe twice with Edge comedy, so this New Day/E&C segment gets a no brainer fast forward from me. I think Christian has some comedy chops, but Edge is about as broad of a hack as you can get.

7. R-Truth vs. Curtis Axel

ER: Wow. This is on a PPV. 2/3 Falls match for the US Title? Oh that's on the pre-show. I mean, there's no real difference anymore between pre-show and PPV, except I'm still far more people still watch the PPV's and skip over the pre-shows. Maybe they're trying to get people to watch pre-shows, so they're putting title matches on there now? I don't know. Gotta advance those dead hour Raw angles I guess.

8. Dean Ambrose vs. Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar

ER: Well hot damn this was all hot damn. Wow. No bullshit, all mammoth spots and ass beating, really well laid out, just a great match. Brock is just the best. I could watch him murder dudes all damn day. Like just start up a Suplex City channel on the Network and post everything Brock has ever done, and I'm there. But the crazy thing about Brock just throwing dudes, is that Brock TAKING moves is maybe even better! I love how naturally he takes offense, how it's not just rapid fire flat back bumps, it's like a level of Kawada selling. When he gets blasted with the superman punch he just staggers back fast, drops quick spaghetti legged to a knee, rolls down to the floor. It's so much more layered than most selling, really shows how he fully understands who he is relative to his opponents. Watch him get speared by Reigns whole holding Ambrose and be impressed by him having the presence of mind to get speared, while tossing Ambrose's body PAST Reigns, instead of dangerous dropping him on Reigns' back and legs. Looked great AND was deceptively safe. The "Brock gets taken out" moments of his big matches are always big time, and I loved him getting plastered through a table and covered in the wreckage. It's a shame we usually don't get the visual of the monster emerging and roaring out of the collapsed building, but I like the surprise emergence of Brock no matter how it's shown. I liked the immediacy of Ambrose and Reigns once they had the monster buried, and I love how into Ambrose the crowd was. Ambrose going big time on everybody with a chair was great, and some of those chairshots looked gnarly. I was really hoping that Ambrose was just going to continue crushing everybody with chairshots until nobody had a chance of kicking out, but the finish still worked even if it created a match I have zero interest in seeing. But damn was this match every single thing I was hoping it would be. So damn good.

ER: Really fun show overall. I don't think I've enjoyed a WWE PPV more than this since we started doing live blogs for them. They always seem to end with BS finishes or just be plagued with bad matches, but I enjoyed almost all of the matches on this one, and fast forwarded through what I'm sure was a terrible comedy segment, and I was left overall feeling super glad I watched it. Really good show.

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Saturday, February 20, 2016

NXT Episode 217 4/17/14 Review

1. Colin Cassady vs. Aiden English

The world's largest Bobby Fulton! Colin Cassady was so ridiculous in that Bo Dallas match, and it's really incredible how tiny he made himself seem. So I'll give credit here since he managed to do much less of that, and really both guys worked a really fun match. Cassady actually spends most of the match in control, you know, as a giant should, and English hits real hard in his comebacks. English throws a couple nice thrust kicks to Cassady's cheek, Cassady throws nice clubbing blows and a nice big boot, English took a nice high backdrop too. When English came back Cassady DID immediately shrink down, but at least he worked this more even. English isn't much smaller than him, so it didn't look as weird as him working Spike Dudley to Bo Dallas' Mike Awesome. I liked English finding ways out of Cassady's silly spinning slam, and Regal was killer putting over English's strikes. English had these sharp knuckle point strikes to the ribs, and Regal was right there talking about the edge and extra pain that the point of the knuckles can bring when thrust in between someone's ribs. I think English's offense looks good anyway, but Regal analyzing it and driving the point home just enhances everything. I really liked this and with another minute or two could easily have added this to my NXT recommended matches list.

2. Camacho vs. Oliver Grey

Not how I was expecting this to go, with Camacho winning a 2 minute squash over the returning Grey. It makes sense that it would happen, Camacho is established despite being kind of an NXT jobber, and Grey is coming back from his ACL injury. But it's such a different approach to the norm, having a returning wrestler get dominated in his return match, that it was surprising and kind of refreshing. It fully makes sense for a guy to get dominated in his return, showing he's dealing with ring rust, showing that while his body has recovered, his ring instincts need to get back to speed. It's like when Kendrys Morales opted not to sign with a team until the 2014 season had already started, and then he spent the whole year two steps behind players who had gone through spring training. It's an approach you never see in pro wrestling, but makes so much logical sense from a presentation standpoint that I really liked it. Plus Camacho is a good hand and deserves a nice win now and then.

3. The Ascension vs. Wesley Blake & Cal Bishop

This is worked like a lot of Ascension squashes. Bishop plays the role of man standing on apron who gets knocked off by Viktor before hitting the Fall of Man, and Blake takes all of the offense. This was less violent than other Ascension squashes, and they're sort of running out of tricks.

4. CJ Parker vs. Great Khali

I had no clue Khali was still employed by WWE in 2014. And Parker goes above and beyond to make him look good, especially taking a huge clothesline over the top and then taking a big back bump on the floor. Khali was surprisingly effective here as well, and while this was kept short it actually could have been something if given more time and a couple more twists. As it was the ending was never in doubt, but it was nice seeing Parker bump around for chops, and Regal was great talking about all of the physical problems that can happen when you get clomped real hard on the head.

5. Jason Jordan & Tye Dillinger vs. Baron Corbin & Sawyer Fulton

What the fuck is a Sawyer Fulton!? I don't think I've seen any of these guys before, but Fulton instantly stands out just by looking like a complete goof. He's a taller guy with some size, but he's dressed like an anonymous backup dancer at the Tony awards. He wears flare leg dance pants with a shiny stripe down the side, little shiny Capezios, a single strap tank, horrendous bleach blonde crew cut, an anachronous barbed wire bicep tat....He just looks like an awkward man in conflict with himself. Like you'd be watching a Kristin Chenoweth number and he would stand out a bit too much from the other dancers, and in a bad way. Jordan and Dillinger are working that lazy and annoying "smiling, athletic guys" gimmick, where they do dropkicks and fist pumps and in the gym they probably push each other to do one more set of burpies bro. They are positively forgettable in their positivity. Corbin is also a big guy and I'd at least like to see more of him. The other guys? Ehhhhhh.

6. Brodus Clay vs. Adrian Neville

Not much of a match. Crowd was back in "get over" mode with silly chants the whole time, Brodus didn't look great on all his missed stuff. The match ended with Neville laid out on the floor and Brodus missing a splash off the ring steps, but he landed on his feet first on the splash and that was supposed to be what kept him down long enough for Neville's count out win. Neville was fine enough keeping Clay away with leg kicks and flippity dippity stuff but yeah this disappointed.

Man what a dud of an episode this week. They're getting into a real bad habit of cramming in more and more matches each week, which means with six matches on a one hour show you're getting a bunch of 2-4 minute matches. When I started watching the show they were doing 3-4 matches, with one match always getting a nice main event time, but all these short matches with bland workers are just dullsville. I liked English/Cassady and gladly would have done without that tag match if the English match could have gotten more time. This was just a poorly laid out show, and show layout and pacing was one of their strengths when I started watching. Six matches in 50 minutes is just too much when you have to account for entrances, backstage interviews, Network ads, etc. Horrible layout.


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Friday, February 19, 2016

MLJ: Black Terry Boot Camp 7: Black Terry vs Virus

2015-11-22 @ Arena Lopez Mateos (Lucha Memes)
Virus vs Black Terry

This was a hell of a maestro match between two of the best wrestlers of the last ten years. It's exactly what you'd expect and every bit as good as you'd hope for. I'm not going to run through any sort of play by play here. That'd be doing it a disservice. Instead, I'll just note a few things that stood out to me.

The first is the notion of ego in Black Terry matches. He's physically unimposing and not as hugely charismatic as Navarro, for instance, but I've found it very tangible in these matches in a way I don't always pick up on with other wrestlers. Pride might be a better term, but there's a level of hubris to it as well when it comes to the complexity of the submissions. Here there were a number of completely unsustainable holds that both wrestlers locked in to cause a short term amount of damage or just to show that they had control of the situation. Virus repeatedly went for a version of the Scorpion Crosslock and I think each attempt, as he wasn't able to get it on, cost him within the narrative of the match. Also, Terry was the first one to go to a "move" after ten minutes of grappling, and while it bought him an advantage, it almost felt like it cost him something to blink first in that way.

As for the actual matwork, what stood out the most was the constant contact. There weren't just escapes, but escapes into reversals. It wasn't enough to kick out of a pinfall or break a hold. In doing so, the person escaping would almost every time grab a limb and find a way to transition into a counterhold. They made it look like the most natural thing in the world while still making it seem like a legitimate struggle. I've seen it before in matches, but rarely so endemic. It was the circulatory system of the match, the river connecting one moment to the next. Advantages were hopelessly fleeting because both men were just that skilled. Moreover, that sense of contact meant that any minor flubs ended up feeling more like resistance and countering attempts than mistakes. Nothing says skill quite like creating a mist of competence covering a match so well that mistakes come off as believable and intentional.

The crowd was appreciative, but in a way I've rarely seen in lucha. It reminded me more of Japan, actually, where occasionally, a crowd will appreciate whoever manages to be on top in the moment. There were dueling chants early, but as the match went on, support seemed to be given, not necessarily to a personal favorite, but in appreciation of whoever had scored the last escape or had locked on the present hold. That added to the tone of the match as well while still keeping it feeling like a competition and not an exhibition.

I'm not sure I'd put it at the very top tier of what I saw in 2015, but it's something everyone should look into checking out if they have a few dollars to spare.

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

2016 Ongoing MOTY List: Yehi v. Riddle

6. Fred Yehi v. Matt Riddle EVOLVE 54 1/23

ER: This is just about the coolest 6 minutes you'll spend watching a wrestling match this year. We've always been a champion of short matches here. I think there's a neat art in constructing a short little story and paying it off satisfactorily, and these two started threads that made me want to watch them every time they show up. Yehi is a little beast and Riddle? Man, I'm not sure how Riddle is as good as he is, this early. Riddle already gets so many little things. David Flair, son of the man who many people consider the biggest wrestling legend of them all, was allowed to be the worst wrestler on television for two years. And here's a pothead formerly fun UFC guy immediately understanding presence and body language and movement with about a year in the business. This is a 6 minute sprint that had me gassed just watching it. The go behind battle was fun and eventually leads to Yehi dumping Riddle a few times with brutal Germans. Riddle flew into these and they peaked with him getting full rotation on the third. I love how Riddle ended up spilling out on his stomach, one leg hung up into the ropes. That's the kind of thing I mean when I say Riddle understands presence, and presentation. That kind of visual display doesn't happen by accident, and a lot of guys don't have that. At one point Yehi throws a hammer blow to Riddle's (bare) foot and it gets paid off by Riddle rushing to his feet and faceplanting when putting weight on that foot. The struggle was real in this one, and there was always grapple control, limbs being fought over; I was wondering where Yehi was taking things once he foolishly dove into triangle bait, and I loved Riddle rolling through for the final tap. If we get a hotter 6 minutes this year then color me excited.

PAS: I loved this match, Riddle is already really good and I am excited to see where he goes from here. The early amateur wrestling sections were great, some of the better worked amateur wrestling I can remember seeing, Yehi getting Riddle's back and dumping him on his head was great looking, I loved the over rotation on that third german, just looked nasty. I also loved Yehi smashing the bridge of the foot and how Riddle sold it. Finish ankle lock was awesome too, unique way to put it on, and the extra wrench by Riddle to get the tap was great. This made me want to track down everything by both guys.


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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Black Terry Boot Camp 6: Black Terry vs Rey Hechicero (11/23/2014)

2014-11-23 @ Coliseo Coacalco, Coacalco, Estado de México (Chilanga Mask)
Black Terry vs Rey Hechicero

Great match. Kind of terrible finish. That was the verdict from Phil and Eric when they saw this match back in 2014 (It was #29 on the 2014 SC list). Let's get the finish out of the way first. After gritty matwork, brawling around the ring twice, chairshots and escalating big moves, a masked man ran to ringside, pulled Terry off of Hechicero in his moment of probable victory (after the super backcracker). In the scuffle that followed, Terry pulled his black mask off to reveal that it was Guerrero Maya Jr. Chaos ensued after that with everyone brawling with everyone else and Terry sneaking out a pin the midst of it.

In retrospect, I'm more okay with that finish than they were back in 2014. Nothing makes a bullshit finish at the end of a great war of a match better than knowing what it leads to. I'm not saying it was some sort of great angle, but it's way better for the guy under the black mask to be Black Terry's "son" than Brutus Beefcake, especially when we know that this all lead to that awesome 2015 Guerrero Maya, Sr. vs Guerrero Maya, Jr. match and Jr. being just an awesome rudo. I'm glad that if we were robbed of a finish here, at least it was due to something hugely functional.

As for the match itself, it was a perfect follow up to the way the October match finished. They started out by pushing each other and they didn't look back. These two pair off so well, and I'm not sure I've ever seen a better Hechicero opponent, including Caifan, who I might have given that honor to before. There's only three or four minutes of matwork but they slipped in escalation, starting simple, using leverage moves and escapes, and advancing into the spinning and twisting, finishing with strikes within a hold that led smoothly into the brawling, in and out of the ring.

It's funny. I watch a lot of lucha these days but I'm sure that the crowd, being a Mexican indy crowd, was much more used to seeing weapon shots than I am, watching mostly CMLL like I do. So when Hechicero introduced a chair, it felt really striking to me (Though it probably didn't to them). I bet that Terry throwing a box of bottles right at Hechicero's face was striking to everyone though. This was grisly, with maybe the best part (past the bottles and Terry's headbutts) being Hechicero doing a post assisted standing chinlock that was nasty and that people should really steal.

The underlying story for the middle section was Hechicero being younger and stronger and Terry having to dodge or to focus on Hechicero's back in order to regain or keep an advantage. It wasn't in your face storytelling, but it was definitely there and that's the sort of thing that gives the stiffness meaning and purpose and sets it apart from two guys just trying to kill themselves. This is another one worth hitting Black Terry, Jr. for. Both wrestlers are just so versatile. Just bear in mind the finish and afterwards go to youtube and watch the GM, Jr. vs GM, Sr. match to wash the taste out and remind yourself it was worth it in the end.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

NXT Episode 216 4/10/14 Review

1. Adam Rose vs. Danny Burch

Burch is UK wrestler Martin Stone who I have seen before and really liked in Evolve. There are many guys in NXT I would rather see him go up against. Shame Regal wasn't on commentary here as I'd love to hear his thoughts on Burch. The match itself wasn't really given a chance to be interesting as it was mostly a heatless Rose showcase. Rose hits some nice shoulderblocks and a nice Bret Hart elbow drop (with elbow pad removal!) but the schtick wastes too much time and got old immediately. Hopefully Burch pops up more in the future though.

2. Bayley vs. Sasha Banks

Short match but go go go and they made the short time work for them. Sasha knows she doesn't have much offense but makes up for it in other ways, and clearly has tons of body charisma and knows how to bitch it up in the ring. She also knows how to let her opponent transition to offense by letting her own bitchiness distract her. Bayley fit a bunch of cool things into her shine, throwing a few flying back elbows and hitting a great high lift belly to belly (The Bayley to Belly is an amusing name). Sasha really bumped hard for those elbows and especially took that BtB really high up on her shoulders. I'm actually pretty shocked Sasha loses as much as she does - in my brief time spent with NXT. She comes off like a pretty big deal but maybe I'm misreading her character and part of it is that she thinks she's a big deal but always loses? Legend in her own mind? The announce crew doesn't play things that way (although I wouldn't trust Riley and Albert to be able to get anything over properly).

3. Sylvester Lefort vs. Mojo Rawley

Albert is to "Oh man this guy gets me pumped" during Rawley's entrance, as Tazz is to " comes the pain!" during old Lesnar entrances. If Mojo has to be on TV every week at least this match was just a minute long. Though I always really really hate when a match is shorter than the combined ring entrance time. Lefort seems kinda fun and he makes Mojo look good enough in his short time in the ring. This kind of Mojo in ring training seems like stuff that can be happening off camera though.

We get a fun look at the NXT events during the 2014 Wrestlemania weekend. I will say that when WM was in San Jose last year we tried to get NXT tickets and that thing sold out QUICK. We didn't starve for wrestling as we got to see a couple of killer Evolve shows. We get some fun moments like a nice seeming dad congratulating Zayn on his accomplishments, and telling him he's phenomenal. Also get Lefort pretending to take a nap behind Rawley while Rawley goes on about how hyped he always is.

4. Bo Dallas vs. Justin Gabriel

We get a longish segment with Bo having a breakdown in the ring, wanting the fans support while they turn their backs, then "Commissioner" JBL comes out and lets Bo know that he'll be facing Justin Gabriel. JBL is the NXT Commissioner? This is literally the first time I've heard that even mentioned, and this is the 10th episode of NXT I've watched. Albert and Riley go on about all the great choices JBL has made as Commissioner but I swear this is the only time I've ever heard JBL's name even mentioned here. WTF? Match didn't do a lot for me. Crowd was really chant-y the whole show, which I get when you're there every week and see all these guys in a small venue, but this was the first time I felt it was getting into a "Let's be the show!" type of thing. This match was just Albert yelling OOOOOOHHHHHHH whenever Gabriel did literally any move. He was so constantly amazed at every light-landing Gabriel crossbody. Albert was like an immigrant seeing the Statue of Libery for the first time, just eyes wide in amazement when Gabriel would do a standard dropkick. Bo Dallas shows so much more polish in NXT than he's shown on the main roster. It's odd as it's obviously why Ascension look worse on the main roster: Their bodies deflated a bit and they weren't allowed to be super violent with people the way they were to jobbers, kinda like the old Mike Awesome dilemma. But Bo might just be one of those guys who translates to 400 people and not 4000 people. But he knows how to react to this crowd, knows how to work heel, and looks good in the ring. I've not seen him do any one of those things in WWE. But yeah, this got a lot of time and didn't do much for me.

Pretty throwaway episode right here. But hey next week we get Great Khali (no clue that Khali was still employed in 2014)!


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Monday, February 15, 2016

Black Terry Boot Camp 5: Black Terry vs Hechicero (10/26/2014)

2014-10-26 @ Arena Solidaridad (ChilangaMask)
Rey Hechicero vs Black Terry

I can't watch every single match we have from 2009 at this point. I think I got a pretty good idea of him from the four that I did. I wanted to move on to something more recent against slightly more familiar opponents. This is a Black Terry, Jr. handheld but it's well worth investing a few dollars to watch. It might be my favorite Hechicero singles match ever.

They matched up very well, with Hechicero stretching himself in certain directions he doesn't usually have to. He has so much STUFF, in general, that he can rely on that and be fine. Here, though, the opening and the closing felt different for him, with almost everything else in the middle grittier than usual. The feeling out process had less of his usual cross and twist submissions. Instead there were a lot of smaller battles over a limb or knees or stepping down on a limb, or even a Backlundian lift out of an armbar, to switch between advantages. Hechicero made sure to time his clapping or taunting in between, which paid off later in the match when Terry had an advantage and did the same. Lots of character here.

Lots of escalation, too. Both into the more complex, twisty Hechicero offense (and a throw or two) and into more brawling. They started with the kneeling JYD headbutts, and went into more striking in general, interlaced with some big moves. And not everything hit smoothly as the match went on, but that fit the gritty feel. These were two guys trying to lock in painful and complex holds, or desperate moves to hurt their opponent. There was very little sense of collaborative dancing here. And it all led to a brutal, fitting, hugely compelling ending that I don't want to give away here (since, opposed to usual, people can't watch the match before reading my review as I'm not posting it).

Terry's really not lost much of a beat since 2009. If anything, his strikes seemed gnarlier, and he hit one piece of crazy offense that was nuttier than anything I'd seen him do in 2009. I think Hechicero appreciated having an opponent and a canvas he could do so much with. His versatility in general is just amazing. He's got the basic matwork, the throws, the contrived but credible submissions, brawling, and the flipping, twisting slingshot in. It's a joy to watch a match where all of that comes together to make a greater whole. This led to a second match which I'm looking forward to. This one was worth checking out though.

(Here's Eric/Phil's review of the match, which was #11 for their 2014 MOTY list. It's slightly more spoiler-y:

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Sunday, February 14, 2016

NXT Episode 215 4/3/14 Review

1. Emma vs. Sasha Banks

Good match but I don't like their trend of squeezing 5 matches into a show, as they would be much better off doing 4 matches and allotting more time. Sasha was really good here, kind of a one woman show. I liked all of the little things she did like sell her butt cheek and shake out her leg after a missed leg drop, and especially loved when she actually tried to trip Emma on a drop down. YES! More tripping on drop downs please. She really flew right at Emma's ankles. Her smack talking is always great as well, and she really flew into Charlotte on a (purposely) miscommunicated drop toehold. It was set up the way Rey sets up a 619, and Sasha really committed right into the ropes/Charlotte. Emma didn't really have much of a hand in the good parts of this, but they keep telling me that everybody likes her, so....

They make Mojo Rawley look really good in an exciting 30 second video. Now I'm curious to see what other wrestlers they can work 30 second highlight video magic with. What can they do with the Godfather? Or Scott Putski?

2. The Ascension vs. Jack Hurley & John Vandal

It's surprising to me just how much I like the Ascension as a squash tag team. My introduction to them was their WWE debut and I don't think many people would disagree when I say their WWE run has been extremely underwhelming. And seeing as how they're so good at working squashes - and keep in mind I don't think that's a backhanded compliment. It takes certain skill to do cool stuff in a concise way. There's a little art to it. But seeing how good they are at working squashes, it's like they got brought up to WWE and were told "So all of that cool stuff you did in NXT? Don't do any of that." One of those classic things where they took away the one thing that might have set them apart. So seeing them in NXT is surprising. They still look like cosplay goofs going to a Venture Bros. Con as part of the Guild of Calamitous Intent, but they know how to beat up jobbers. And in this case, jobbers who seemingly got their names chosen out of 1994 Thrasher magazines. Kelly Ripper! Street Slasher Tracy Slater! Hurley and Vandal (their buddies Burton and Quicksilver were waiting in the car outside) take a nice beating, but Ascension are like Faces of Fear nasty, peaking with Hurley getting bodyslammed twice into the ropes. The first time he gets body slammed into the top and middle rope, so he ends up bouncing to the mat on the back of his head, and it's like Konnor heard that old jazz adage of "If you hit a bad note, hit it again so the crowd thinks it was on purpose", so he picks up Hurley and dangerously does the same thing. Their legsweep/flying back elbow finish looks really great, and yeah, I look forward to Ascension squash matches. This is a development I was not expecting.

3. Xavier Woods vs. Brodus Clay

This is odd as Woods comes out using Brodus Clay's Funkasaurus music, and Clay just comes out to some drum beats and shouting sounds while wearing jogging pants. There haven't really been many guys who've fallen off the WWE map faster than Clay. This is not even two years ago, and he was being advertised as being part of the WWE Scooby Doo movie, which means as that movie was made he seemed like a guy who should be in it, and the ad for the movie runs right before a match where he's been demoted to NXT. The match is plenty fun as Woods jumps him with a bunch of nice kicks and keeps outrunning him, and once Clay catches him the match never turns back. Clay does a couple nice bombs away variations, hits a nice shoulder tackle, big powerbomb, nasty little scoop brainbuster; It was constructed nicely, with Woods not getting any comebacks, but there being moments where you *thought* he might get one, like Clay going up for a splash and taking a bit too long, making you think Woods will move. But it would have been silly for him to do so after what he had taken. Brodus cuts a nice short promo after about how WWE took his dignity, took his girls, took his music, took his pride, so now he's just left with Brodus, and he wants the NXT belt.

And I really liked Neville's promo about how guys from Raw and Smackdown couldn't just come down and be big fish anymore, saying Brodus must have been living in a cave the last couple years, how NXT guys are as good as any of the Raw/Smackdown guys, and he'd need to do more to prove himself worthy of a shot. Nice stuff.

4. Yoshi Tatsu vs. Tyler Breeze

Poor little Yoshi. He's so good at making offense look nice, which can be a kiss of death. He doesn't get one move in during this short not-even-two-minute match. Breeze is a guy I like though, I notice him doing new things I like in almost every match. Here I noticed his great side headlock, just a perfect grounded headlock, with Tatsu on his side and Breeze on his back, pushing up with his legs for leverage while squeezing hard on Tatsu's neck. Tatsu sold it great but it also looked like he was being choked out. Breeze has a nice enough side headlock that it looked better than his spin kick finisher.

Paige cuts an unfortunate promo saying she "expected people to want her title, expected people to come in her face." I would say that's worse than getting your leg kicked out of your leg.

5. Corey Graves vs. Sami Zayn

Not quite the match I was expecting, but interesting for what they tried to do and overall well executed by Zayn. Graves ended up controlling most of this match, and the match got about 13 minutes. I like Graves a lot but his stuff wasn't looking as violent here as it was supposed to look, part of that being that it's hard to make mounted punches look good while still making it look realistic that Zayn wouldn't be unconscious. But anyway, Graves controls for a long time, and amusingly does that same nice side headlock that I praised Breeze for. Like the same exact one. Somebody at NXT is teaching everybody a real nice headlock. Graves also does another nice one where he lies on his stomach and wrenches it in. Regal on commentary is just about the best at putting over why a headlock like this is so damaging. Zayn's comeback is nice with some flash roll ups, but then they end up bumping heads and Zayn starts selling concussion symptoms. It was weird as the back of Graves' head bumped Zayn's forehead, but Graves didn't sell a bunch and the announce crew immediately acted like something was seriously wrong with Zayn. Zayn manages to fight off Graves a bit, hits a nice back elbow, a good punch, but then tries to go up top for something and starts wobbling on the ropes, losing his balance, trying again. His acting is really good throughout, but once you start doing the concussion stuff you're walking kind of a fine line of taste within a worked wrestling context. So the announcers are going into Owen voice and asking for the match to be stopped, then Graves locks on his submission for the win. So yeah, I get what they were going for, and Zayn honestly could not have done a better job, but portraying concussions in a match is a real slippery slope and it would have definitely been better if they had just worked an actual match with a finish.


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Saturday, February 13, 2016

2016 Ongoing MOTY List: Styles v. Sabre

3. AJ Styles v. Zack Sabre Jr. Revolution Pro 1/16

PAS: This was very indy juniors dream match style, which isn't really my thing, but this was a pretty great version of that match. I really liked the opening scramble sections of this, which were functionally Guerrero v. Malenko roll up, but with completely different spots. Styles has very powerful and aggressive take downs which really add interest to any jockying for position. I also really dug all of the different ways both guys got into there submissions, very creative stuff, Styles especially has a bunch of nasty ways to work in his ankle slicer. They did a strike exchange section which was a bit superfluous, but the finish run was pretty good, and I liked the finishing submission a bunch.

ER: I liked this even more than Phil. The lost the narrative a few times and you could argue they almost did too much stuff, but damn do I love the stuff that they do. Phil is spot on with the Malenko/Guerrero new era stuff, as it doesn't totally go anywhere and it only serves as a pretty way to jockey for control, but it's far more interesting that tests of strength and collar/elbows. They do a bunch of cool snapmares rolled into wristlocks, they scramble into and out of perilous positions, they move at an alarmingly fast pace that would leave me wondering which way is up. Sabre clearly has glue on his hands as Styles needs to always be careful not to leave a limb hanging. They do too much cool stuff like Sabre catching a single leg during a leapfrog, or the nastiest moment of the match: Sabre grabbing Styles wrist and violently bending it down and back, wrestling Styles to the ground to stomp on his folded under elbow. Styles goes after the knee, Sabre goes after the arm and wrist, and while selling can get convenient they always remind us that the damage is there. I liked that the Styles Clash plays into Sabre's strength, as it's a move that required a bit of set up, requires Styles to be a bit vulnerable in the moments he's maneuvering Sabre into position, and they play up those moments of vulnerability by having Sabre grab an arm, grab a choke, leaving Styles to decide if he wants to finish things another way or find a quicker way to lock on the Clash. The ankle slicer is a painful sub that looks painful, and I would have been fine with that ending things, but we get gifted with a wild Sabre multi-layered sub that just screamed. Both of these guys are very clever and know their way around an indy workrate epic. Awesome stuff.


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Friday, February 12, 2016

Lucha Underground Season 2 Episode 3: The Hunt is On...

1. Bengala vs. Kobra Moon

ER: Wow, I'm so happy I managed to not get this spoiled as I had no clue Kobra Moon was Thunder Rosa! I've had the privilege of doing commentary on a few of her matches, as she works all over the Bay Area - including several shows for Phoenix Pro Wrestling. She's barely been wrestling a year, so it's a little crazy to see her get a TV gig. She's really nice, and clearly worked hard over this last year. So color me surprised when I recognized her through her mask and weird....snake tongue waggling? The snake stuff does not really work for me, but I'll give her credit for committing to things. If the producers told her to act like a snake, but a snake that is also a professional wrestler, I'd be hard-pressed to think of someone who did a better job of acting like a snake within a pro wrestling ring. Now, the match wasn't very good. I'm not excited for even more intergender stuff in this fed. I'm confident it won't be as bad as the Sexy Star stuff, but intergender matches have such a lower ceiling (and lower floor). As far as I know Rosa hasn't worked intergender matches up here, so it would be odd that they'd specifically bring in someone who has just a year under their belt, and then make them work a format they haven't worked before. She's very small, and I just can't see how that will work out. Match was fairly short, with Kobra hitting a rana to the floor, hitting a nice axe kick, doing a nice job of getting the knees up late on a Bengala splash. But Ricky Marvin isn't a very big guy and was much bigger than her here, already stretching the plausibility of things. So I'm left with a weird neutral feeling, as I could not be happier for her to be getting this opportunity, but I'm also unsure where she fits into the fed.

PAS: Ricky Marvin is also a bigger guy then he was last season, he is starting to get Super Astroish, but I am not sure if his agility has caught up to him yet. I liked the snake stuff in theory, although that choke sleeper looked barely applied. This didn't do much for me, and Kobra Moon looked a little too fragile to be a threat, Aja Kong I could buy kicking guys asses, not so sure about this girl who looked 105 pounds.

ER: I'll level with you, I didn't really understand that Aerostar vignette.

PAS: I think he is a time traveling space alien? Vignettes have gotten stupider and stupider this season, they feel like they are leaning into the Chikara which is not where I want to see this show go. Is there a dumber idea in wrestling history then Big Ryck getting murdered in the comic book? By the Disciples of Death who are Rough and Ready in the actual wrestling portion of the show, but apparently savage murder machines in the canon comic book. I like this show mostly but wrestling being taken over by Comic Con dorks is the fucking worst. I don't need a pro-wrestling extended universe.

2. Jack Evans vs. Drago

ER: So Jack Evans is probably a crazy person. I can't understand how his body lands the way it does sometimes. He finds a funny and dangerous tone here, doing silly stuff like bumping a slap with a 720, doing a funny cartwheel handspring eye gouge, hit little peekaboo through his legs on the top rope that leads to him getting superkicked...but then also just getting dumped on his head a couple times in a fast neck snapping way, or taking a rough DDT while draped over the top tope. I don't need him to go full Kenny Omega or anything, and some stuff eeks a little close, but he seems to know how to read the room. Drago had some fun moments and I really liked him in the opening minute bullying Evans into the ropes a bunch. But spotlight was kind of on Evans here.

PAS: I thought this was a little Shawn Michaels vs. Hoganish with Evans taking these outlandish over the top bumps for simple things. I like the idea of Jack calling himself the Dragonslayer but he is at his best taking big beatings, I wish they were setting up Jack vs. Muertes or Matanza where those spinning bumps would make more sense.

ER: Texano had kind of a misfire of a last season, but this package did a nice job of making his time here seem a bit more impactful. And just when I was rolling my eyes at yet another vignette of masked guys jumping a LU guy and getting beaten down, Texano starts breaking everything in sight with his bullrope and it gets awesome. Breaking beer bottles out of hands, breaking tables in half, busting chairs that get thrown at him. El Texano, The Whipmaster is infinitely more interesting than a feud with Daivari.

PAS: I did like the bullrope stuff, but man are the vignettes repetitive and lazy this year, does everyone live in some alternative universe where people in lucha masks are attacking people in the streets? Is this Frank Miller's Gotham?

3. Last Luchador Standing: Fenix vs. King Cuerno

ER: This fed knows how to doll up for their gimmick matches and this was no different. After a little early clumsiness with Cuerno balancing on the top rope while Fenix balanced on the opposing top rope things picked up big with Cuerno taking a big bump over the top, only to move out of the way as Fenix tope'd into nothing. Yes please. They use their sound sweetening for good as Fenix gets tossed into the ringpost and they do this great *ping* sound that sent shock waves down my hands thinking about fouling a pitch off in just the wrong way. Cuerno continues the beating by tossing Fenix through a row of chairs. Cuerno got to be a real badass throughout this, as Fenix got to hit some flashy dives (including his awesome springboard tornillo from the middle rope), but Cuerno would always cut him off, eventually knocking him to the floor and hitting the sick arrow tope past the ringpost. They shot the dive with the overhead camera and it was easily the best use of that camera angle yet. Everything builds to what we think is going to be a lunatic bump off of Dario's office, from a fed who loves doing lunatic bumps off of Dario's office. And unexpectedly, instead, Cuerno just takes a BRUTAL bump through a set up table, falling off the ladder. This may have been the nastiest bump in LU's history. And it's all because, for some reason, Cuerno HELD ONTO THE LADDER while falling!! So you just had this slow fallback as the physics of a man on a ladder shifted, and started to tilt back, and then he just kept hanging on tight to that ladder, all the way through the table and through the floor. You don't need sound sweetening to enhance the THUMP his body made. Cuerno was like Wile E. Coyote using an Acme drill to weaken a cliff side, and as he drills all the way through the cliff and begins falling to his sure death, he's still there in the sky, falling while drilling. That was Cuerno, just holding onto that ladder as he fell to his sure death. Insane.

PAS: This was a step below some of the absolute peak LU gimmick matches, but this was very good. Fenix is a guy I haven't loved outside of LU, but he is great in these kind of over the top brawls. He gets such great height on his dives and takes huge bumps. He also has a sense of dramatic timing which really comes in play in these kind of big main events. Cuerno was great too that final bump was truly nuts and truly unexpected.

ER: I'm predicting Phil will hate the cop show sketch to end things, and I definitely do think they need to pick a side, with Reyes playing things too serious (badly) and Ryan playing things too hammy (badly), but I foolishly like the angle of a vice squad put together specifically to take down madman Dario Cueto. Plus we got confirmation that B-Boy actually DID have his face eaten off.

PAS: This was super dumb, if you are going to do some convoluted crime story at least have it make internal sense. Reyes says "I should have brought him in when his brother killed Bael" and there is no answer and the whole story get exposed,  and then you have Joey Ryan playing a cop in a gay porn and that means we have to watch Joey Ryan. Cuerno was fun as a hammy evil promoter early in this feds run, but the more they have tried to build some sort of B movie horror film the dumber it has gotten. This is Hellraiser 6 level writing and completely divorced from what makes this fed good.


**And we liked the Last Luchador Standing match enough to include it on our 2015 MOTY List (You see, it was recorded in November 2015, even though it aired 3 months later)**

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

MLJ: Black Terry Boot Camp 4: El Signo & Negro Navarro vs Black Terry & Shu el Guerrero

2009-08-20 @ Arena Naucalpan
El Signo & Negro Navarro vs Black Terry & Shu el Guerrero

One rule that I've kept to pretty firmly in this project is that I never start with the best stuff. It ends up making everything else feel sort of like a let down. That was the case here. This ended up on the Complete and Accurate List as Great, and I'd aim it more towards Fun myself. The most glaring flaw, relative to the Traumas/Cerebros matches, is obviously that Signo and Shu just can't go like they used to. Even with that, this could have been great, but it had some structural problems that it down.

There were definitely pockets of greatness though, and they were pockets driven by Navarro and Terry. Once again, Navarro comes out larger than life. Terry is incredibly smooth in how he puts holds, even complicated ones on, the way he makes everything look effective and hurt, the way he sells everything to make it look better than it should. Navarro on the other hand is really quite clunk. If he's dropping down on a limb to set up a hold, he's a good number of degrees out of position and there's more friction than there should be, a near stumble. It comes off as intentional, effective, and really, downright brutal though. It's like forcing a square peg in a round hole, with the hole suffering for Navarro's insistence. There's such purpose to it and the end result is grisly enough that it adds to the match instead of subtracting from it, which is something I'm not sure I ever thought possible, let alone had seen before. He's going to twist people into a knot and if he has to plow through a limb or two in order to do so, all the better. I actively felt bad for Shu when the two of them were matched up because I couldn't suspend my disbelief that he was capable of doing anything at all to Navarro.

Terry was definitely great in the match, despite some of the things going on around him. There's a short heat segment in the segunda that did more to hurt the match than to help it. They worked over Terry's arm, which on paper should have been good, but it was worked like a Southern tag, with false tags and what not. All the weight of the heat was on the refs ignoring the tags instead of on the heels using misdirection, however, so it was a waste of Terry's selling ability and Shu's fat-guy-with-a-mask frustrated charisma. The comeback wasn't that impressive either; it felt deferred. Shu did his stuff with Navarro, eliminating him, then Terry matched up against Signo and they had a great little brawl. Signo held his own with some headbutts and shots in the corner, but it was Terry driving things, bloody and with the sort of fiery comeback you'd want. It just came too late. They spilled outside and it led to a DQ when Navarro got involved. So it was a good exchange, just in the wrong place. It was magic whenever he was in there with Navarro, too. My absolute favorite bit was how he sold Navarro's punches with this wobbly head motion.

In the end, this was fun. It could have been better with a bit more discipline and without some of the heel ref bs that never got paid off anyway. I think, if nothing else, it put into perspective to me how good the other matches were, but also just how good Navarro and Terry were in 2009 relative to their temporal peers.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

MLJ: Black Terry Boot Camp 3: Black Terry, Cerebro Negro, Dr. Cerebro © vs Negro Navarro, Trauma I, Trauma II [EdM Trios] (4/16/09)

2009-04-16  @ Arena Naucalpan
Black Terry, Cerebro Negro, Dr. Cerebro © vs Negro Navarro, Trauma I, Trauma II [EdM Trios]

This was a week prior to the last match I reviewed. It was a title match and that really speaks to the variety. The match a week later had much clearer tecnico/rudo alignment. This was worked like a title match, with a long primera and a fairly long segunda consisting mainly of matwork.

It was a crowd conditioned to respond to it and that appreciated it, which probably wouldn't fly today in Arena Mexico. They popped for complex holds. They chanted (sometimes dueling) after an exchange or an escape. While it's a bit of a chicken/egg thing, I imagine that if matches at this level are put in front of a crowd steadily enough, they learn to respond quickly if they weren't already inclined to in the first place.

I know this is about Black Terry, and ultimately, I think that he may well be a more consistent and overall talented performer in 2009, but Navarro is tremendously engaging. He stands out far more. Yes, it's the strikes, just him chopping someone in the throat. It's the facial expressions, the way he moves around the ring, even the fact he's bald, which is rare in lucha because hair is such a valuable commodity. It's how amused he seems the first time or two that someone gets an advantage on him, the old man allowance of it. While he does have an exchange with Terry late in the match (and another leading to the finish after the dives clear out everyone else), and it's a hard-hitting one, he was never unleashed emotionally, like in the match a week later. They also reuse the spot where Cerebro Negro locks him in a step over stump puller and he seems terribly amused by it, which in and of itself, is fine, but in the context of this match, where they do so many different things than they would in the other, it stood out in a negative way. He, more than anyone else in the match, has the ability to make something pop. For instance, the submission that ended the primera looked like it was going to pop Cerebro Negro's limbs off, all of them.

A lot of my general comments in this process so far continue to stand. This is tricked out, high end matwork across the board. I don't think that Cerebro Negro looked as good in the matwork as the others. That's been true throughout too. When they picked up the pace in the tercera, he and Trauma II had a good exchange though which helped make up for their "your hold, my hold" bit in the segunda. Dr. Cerebro is interesting; they all cross limbs in order to achieve holds, but Cerebro seems to use that in order to position his opponent much more. He'll twist someone around not as part of the hold but to get them into position for something far more simple like a STF or crossface.

And Terry was there, a constant, more than holding his own in the matwork, selling better than anyone else in the match, and standing strong in the brutal chop exchange with Navarro. Like I said, Negro Navarro does stand out more, but Terry comes off as more of a total package.

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Tuesday, February 09, 2016

2016 Ongoing MOTY List: Fred Yehi v. Tracy Williams

5. Fred Yehi v. Tracy Williams EVOLVE 53 1/22

ER: This match was from the recent Style Battle series, which had some fun Matt Riddle showings, and some terrible modern day Ric Blade tribute act from Peter Kaasa, and then what very well could be some name-making brutality from Fred Yehi. Williams is a Gulak guy and I believe Green Ant, and also has no problem bringing the nasty shots and neck cranks. Really both guys were plenty brutal in this, but Yehi jumped out at me most in both of his matches. He's such a little asskicker and his shots looked so damn tough that at a point in the match where it could have felt like overkill, it just made me think Williams was a tough son of a gun for still being fully conscious and fully toothed. There were things in this match that can easily annoy me in other matches: strike exchanges that go on a bit too long, a few too many kickouts, a slightly too long running time...but because the brutality was always at a high level it made me stay right there with them. Both guys worked quick, and the strike exchanges brought more than your standard NJPW exchange. They weren't standing around growling in between, they were too busy slapping and elbowing each other. Even when one guy would be attempting to lift the other or move to a new spot, there were always escape attempts and hard shots to ribs, just no rest for either guy. Yehi packs such a mean wallop, his rolling elbow brought new life to that spot, and this whole thing was a real fun war.

PAS: I did think this went overboard a bit, but Yehi was a Tank, lots of nifty little bits of brutality. I loved a spot where he tripped Williams and then just kicked him in the mouth. I also loved Williams finishing run of nasty headdrops, his piledriver was gross looking. Could have used a bit of trimming in the middle, but a fun battle between two guys I hadn't seen much of.


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Monday, February 08, 2016

MLJ: Black Terry Boot Camp 2: Negro Navarro, Trauma I, Trauma II vs Black Terry, Cerebro Negro, Dr. Cerebro (4/23/2009)

2009-04-23 @ Arena Naucalpan
Negro Navarro, Trauma I, Trauma II vs Black Terry, Cerebro Negro, Dr. Cerebro

I'm doing these all out of order. Blame Phil. These were what he posted first in the PWO thread. It absolutely goes against the way I generally operate, but I need to get my bearings and I'll start wherever I can. so what if this is the third match of three we have online with these exact trios, just from the month of April. So what if I'm missing likely callback spots and match-to-match progression. Why not just jump in blind, right?

Self-conscious context-porn aside, this match was good enough that anyone could jump in blind and enjoy it. First of all, as much as I love really well done mat wrestling and traditional, more exhibition based lucha, especially when it builds like the Ultraman, Jr. match did, I love heated wars more. This felt more like rudos vs tecnicos, with beatdowns and comebacks and revenge spots and Negro Navarro demolishing people with strikes.

Actually, let's start there. I've seen Navarro a few times, sure, but I've never quite seen him like this. It was sort of like if the King and I was mixed with Ong Bak or something, the world's deadliest, most badass, Walking Tall Yul Brynner. We only had a bit of Navarro in the opening exchanges. He had been matched up with Cerebro Negro, and the most notable thing there was Cerebro's step over stomp puller and Navarro's appreciative reaction to the way he had been twisted like a pretzel. Just as he was getting the advantage, he was swarmed, starting the beatdown. When he finally came back at the start of the segunda (and they didn't waste time with it), he just demolished anyone in his path with punches, kicks, clotheslines. This all built to a fairly subtle exchange with Black Terry in the tercera, where Terry held his own, but kept going for the win while Navarro was just trying to crush him. There was a real sense of Terry wanting to get out of the match and escape retribution, of being squirrelly, which he managed to do while never seeming less skilled or formidable.

Everyone else did their part too. The primera, for the exchange we did get, was full of believable, cross-legged (and later cross-armed) submissions, none of which looked overly collaborative. Terry and Trauma II had a run with them where they weren't even really doing the tricked out stuff, just moving limbs at all the wrong angles. Likewise, the tandem submission that ended the primera (after the rudo swarm) wasn't anything overly complicated, just pulling at limbs every which way. It punctuated the beatdown, and was all that moment needed.

It was a very layered match, with the highest point being Terry vs Navarro, especially because of when and how it arose in the match. A lot of times, that's because a match builds and builds towards an exchange. I don't think that was the case here. Instead it was more of a natural altercation in the midst of the story they were telling. I'm excited to go back and see the matches around this now. We'll see if I end up regret not seeing them in order later.

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