Segunda Caida

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

Saturday, April 30, 2016

WWE Global Cruiserweight Series: Progess Wrestling Qualifying Matches

The entire WWE Global Cruiserweight series seems like something fantasy booked by RSPW-F in 1998. Really weird that is something that is actually happening. Since Segunda Caida are 90's Kids at heart we will review it all.

Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Flash Morgan Webster 4/24

PAS: I am not 100% sold on Sabre Jr. yet, but he has been in some of my favorite matches of 2016. In those matches he mostly plays game underdog who takes a beating and uses his guile and craft to sneak advantages. This however was Sabre working on top as a Fuchish torturer of a young game kid. He was really nasty here, he threw a Tiger suplex which looked like it dislocated Webster's shoulder, he had some neck cranks which looked like he was trying to twist the kids head off. Webster showed some spunk, and had some ok highspots, although he didn't have the vertical leap to really make them look great. I liked heelish Sabre Jr. a bunch, and hope we get to see more of that from him.

ER: I think I am totally sold on Sabre at this point. Maybe an older version of him wasn't as good, but now I'm pretty sure he's legit. And as things start this whole thing is just tremendously British. Webster looks like Jay from the Inbetweeners, and the ref looks like Neil. Made me want to snack on some jammie dodgers while watching. Or some pickled onion meanies. Mmmmmmmm. Sabre was an awesome dick here, and Flash had plenty of cool stuff of his own (although Phil is right in that he doesn't totally have the leaps to make all his highspots look good, but it kinda adds to his charm). That tiger suplex spot is devastating, set up perfectly and I really kind of wish was the finish, but damn what a spot. Even not being familiar with Webster's offense it looked the whole time like he was going for a rolling cradle and not just setting up a spot for Sabre, and I like how that brutal move grew from that. Sabre cranking on limbs and contorting Webster's spine made my body ache. I have no clue how Webster's arms weren't just hanging limply from two dislocated shoulder sockets by the end. This whole thing was really fun.

Pete Dunne vs. Jack Gallagher 4/24

ER: We're fast becoming big Gallagher fans at SC, and this was another great performance. Even though I thought the whole match could have added up to more, I really liked both guys in this. Dunne I had never seen before and he had some cool things (really liked him using his own leg to yank his leg out of Gallagher's grasp, or digging his knuckles into the back of Gentleman Jack's neck), and Gallagher did great little spots of selling that were so well done and so natural that they easily could have gone unnoticed. Him rubbing out his neck the same spot where Dunne was digging in his knuckles, minutes after that was done; him locking on a gorgeous rolling half crab and sucking teeth while shaking out his left hand that had moments before been worked over; he has just so many nice attention to detail moments that make you really want to focus on all sorts of stuff, as you know your focus will be rewarded. I'm really loving this "new" wave of UK indy guys, it's the most I've been actively interested in present day UK wrestling ever, at least since 2001ish when I first saw guys like James Mason and Doug Williams. It's a shame Dunne is eliminated as I know there's going to be people in the tournament who won't be nearly as fun, but I loved that I didn't actually know who was advancing while watching it. I *assumed* it would be Gallagher, but didn't know, so when Dunne got a couple really great nearfalls I totally bought them. That one with him grabbing the ropes totally got me, which is a testament to how nicely these two let things play out. Fun stuff.

PAS: I am totally in the bag for Jack Gallagher he is the best grappler in the world right now and really delivers some awesome little touches, countering a suplex by slipping into an guillotine choke, delivering a kneecap kick float into an ankle lock, he is just doing things on the mat no one else is pulling off. I do want to give some love to Pete Dunne though, what a marvelous dickbag. His meathead faces, his little ponytail, his Bruiserweight nickname,  his nasty cheap shots like digging his knuckles into Jack's neck or twisting his fingers, just a complete asshole. I thought his bar brawl bullshit melded really nicely with all of Gallaghers mastery.

PAS: It will be really interesting to see how these guys do on WWE TV, they are both such idiosyncratic wrestlers, and I am curious to see how they look against guys like Sombra or Busick. Gallagher I imagine will be first round cannon fodder, but I just hope he makes a stop off at EVOLVE when he is the US, Gallagher vs. the Catch Point guys would be amazing

ER: I'm really excited for both guys going over, excited at all the potential match-ups. This really does feel like a tournament that 17 yr old me would be booking, and it still doesn't totally seem like a real thing. It's surreal to see clips from a tiny British indy show on WWE's website and youtube channel, but I am loving that this is a thing.

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Complete WWE Cruiserweight Classic

This is one of the more fun major fed booking ideas in history, and my former teenage cruiserweight superfan self is kind of flipping out about it. Phil and I will be watching all of the matches in the series and compiling them all here.

Qualifying Matches

Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Flash Morgan Webster - Progress Wrestling 4/24/16
Jack Gallagher vs. Pete Dunne - Progress Wrestling 4/24/16
Noam Dar vs. Josh Bodom - Revolution Pro Wrestling 5/1/16
Fred Yehi vs. TJ Perkins - EVOLVE 5/7/16
Drew Gulak vs. Tracy Williams - EVOLVE 5/7/16
Anthony Nese vs. Lince Dorado vs. Drew Gulak vs. TJP vs. Johnny Gargano - EVOLVE 6/11/16

Tournament Episodes

Round One - 7/13/16
Round One - 7/20/16
Round One - 7/27/16
Round One - 8/3/16

Round Two - 8/10/16
Round Two - 8/17/16
Round Two - 8/24/16

Quarterfinals - 8/31/16
Quarterfinals - 9/7/16

Dark Matches


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2016 Ongoing MOTY List: Briscoes/Cheeseburger v. War Machine/Moose

15. Briscoes/Cheeseburger v. War Machine/Moose ROH 3/12

ER: It's hard to beat a good 6 man tag. You can get guys with loose allegiances, different styles, and different skillsets, but as long as things keep a certain pace you can hide a lot of weaknesses and have an insane amount of fun. Whether you credit the format or the wrestler, this is the best I've seen Moose look, the best I've seen Cheeseburger used, and the most fired up I've seen Jay Briscoe in over a year. Cheeseburger got to hit some shoteis, some splashes that were never seen as threatening, he got to do some Mikey Whipwreck avoidance spots where the larger guys would just hurt themselves (including a nice run where Moose flies into the ringpost and Hanson bronco busts the turnbuckles), and most importantly he gets used as a weapon. We get several great spots with him getting thrown into other guys, the craziest being him getting caught on a dive and then thrown back into the ring by War Machine, only to get caught by Jay which leads directly to Mark hitting a wild tope and then Jay taking out War Machine with an even meaner, faster, low tope. Jay was awesome in this, and his brawling segments with Rowe and Moose were the highlights. Rowe is clearly the worker in War Machine even though Hanson is featured more, and he and Jay kick the shit out of each other. Later on when Moose and Jay are taking turns kicking each other it's like Moose finally turned the corner into becoming a good worker. I mean it helps when Mark Brisoce flies insanely into your spinning lariat, but still Moose looked good. Cheeseburger gets a nice triple shotei spot, only to see everybody recover and all kick him at the same time from different angles. He gets tossed around a lot here, as he should be, but usually the tosses aren't so mean. Moose planting him with a low angle german after catching the alley oop from Hanson is worth the price of admission. 6 man tags are just the perfect structure for 6 guys of varying ability to go in and have a great 15 minutes of action, and this all held to that philosophy.

PAS: This was a nice example of the strength of a six man tag, because outside of the Briscoes I am not sure if any of these guys are good wrestlers and I really enjoyed this. I had never seen Cheeseburger before, and he is Haiti Kid level skinny, he might weight less then 100 pounds and has no muscle development at all, I mean most tiny indy guys at least have some bulk to them. He does take a brutal beating and I liked how he avoided guys and made them hurt themselves, I am not sure I ever buy any offensive move as anything but a comedy spot though. War Machine look awesome, but there stuff should really be more violent, I want Ray Rowe to kill folks, and he just never does it for me. This did make me remember how much I love the Briscoes and I should make a wrestling resolution to watch more of them.


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Friday, April 29, 2016

Sombra (Manny Andrade) Spotlight Master List

With Manny "La Sombra" Andrade very likely debuting on NXT shortly, I thought it might be helpful or interesting for people to map the early stages of his career in Mexico, mainly using footage online that people could check out themselves. I know lucha, especially the CMLL style which has its own distinct trappings and psychology, is less familiar to many NXT watchers. Moreover, there is years of footage to go through, and much of it can be hard to comb through because matches are buried within larger uploads of TV shows on youtube.

Therefore, I am in the process of putting together chronological reviews and links to a number of his matches. I've tried to pick up big title matches or singles matches, which serve as good barometers for his progress. I picked up trios matches that I thought looked interesting as well, though often times that may be an excuse for me to watch yet another Negro Casas match, or something. If you're looking first and foremost for quality, while I like some of his earlier tag title matches with Volador, he seemed to really put the pieces together towards the end of 2010 (around Match #16).

As we get towards 2014 and when I started looking at matches for this site, I'll link back to reviews I've already written. I'd also like to link in reviews that Eric has done at some point as well. Keep in mind that I'll occasionally talk about finishes in the reviews and yes, I know, the gifs are at 1.5x speed but sometimes that just makes them better.

For people brand new to lucha, I've tried put together a guide to the structures of modern CMLL trios style wrestling that looks more at the narratives and storytelling than more superficial things like the rules. You can find that here.

In general, you can really see his development as a wrestler through these matches and I think some of them, especially as we get into the 2010s, will get people excited for what's to come in his NXT run.

Match 1: Black Diamond, Brillante, Principe de Oro vs Charles Lucero, Susto, Tigre Universitario
Match 2: Euforia, Nosferatu, Virus vs. Brillante, Leono, Stuka Jr.
Match 3: Dr. Wagner Jr., Euforia, Último Guerrero vs La Sombra, Místico, Negro Casas
Match 4: Felino vs La Sombra 1 [mano a mano]
Match 5: Sombra vs Felino 2 [Lightning]
Match 6: Felino vs Sombra 3: La Sombra, Máscara Dorada, Volador Jr. vs Felino, Místico, Negro Casas
Match 7: Felino vs Sombra 4: Felino, Místico, Negro Casas vs La Máscara, La Sombra, Volador Jr.
Match 8: Felino vs Sombra 5: Místico & Volador Jr. vs Felino & La Sombra
Match 9: La Sombra & Volador Jr. © vs Heavy Metal & Negro Casas [CMLL TAG]
Match 10: La Sombra & Volador Jr. © vs Felino & Negro Casas [CMLL TAG]
Match 11: La Sombra & Volador Jr. vs Atlantis & Rey Bucanero [CMLL TAG]
Match 12: La Sombra vs Mephisto [NWA WELTER]
Match 13: Volador Jr./La Sombra/Sagrado vs. Sangre Azteca/Black Warrior/Dragón Rojo [MEX TRIOS]
Match 14: 2010 CMLL Universal Tournament Part 1
Match 15: CMLL Universal Tournament 2010 Part 2: Sombra vs Jushin Liger
Match 16: La Sombra vs Dragón Rojo Jr. (2010)
Match 17: La Sombra & Mascara Dorada vs Jushin Liger & Hector Garza
Match 18: Hijo del Fantasma, La Sombra, Máscara Dorada vs Averno, Mephisto, Negro Casas
Match 19: La Sombra vs Mephisto © [NWA WELTER]
Match 20: La Sombra vs Psicosis II
Match 21: Blue Panther, La Máscara, La Sombra vs Atlantis, Dragón Rojo Jr., Último Guerrero
Match 22: Atlantis, Hirooki Goto, Negro Casas vs La Sombra, Rush, Strong Man
Match 23: Blue Panther, Hijo del Fantasma, La Sombra vs Dragón Rojo Jr., Shinsuke Nakamura, Volador Jr.
Match 24: Héctor Garza, La Sombra, Shocker vs Rey Bucanero, Terrible, Texano
Match 25: Hiroshi Tanahashi, Terrible, Texano vs Black Warrior, Héctor Garza, La Sombra
Match 26: La Sombra vs Averno [2011 CMLL Universal, final]
Match 27: La Sombra © vs Volador Jr. [NWA WELTER]
Match 28: Blue Panther, La Sombra, Shocker vs Felino, Mr. Niebla, Negro Casas
Match 29: La Sombra vs Negro Casas [NWA Welter]
Match 30: Atlantis, La Sombra, Triton vs Dragón Rojo Jr., Negro Casas, Último Guerrero


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Thursday, April 28, 2016

2015 Ongoing Match of the Year List

8. Kazushi Sakuraba v. Katsuyori Shibata NJPW 7/5

ER: Awesome little fight, my favorite Saku pro wrestling match. Not only was Sak unrelenting, but found nice ways to incorporate his history and story into a jam packed 12 minutes. I loved him throwing out the double stomp the second Shibata ends up on his back, and from there we get tons of knees, great chokes, and ultimately a man who is older than his 46 years, getting outlasted by a younger, fresher opponent. Old man dying on his sword is maybe my favorite match story in pro wrestling, and Sak played it to a T here. He took some ungodly punishment from Shibata, who blasted him with all kinds of kicks. Those corner dropkicks to a slumped Sak were vicious. But Sakuraba would fight back, and him finagling his way into a choke was epic, with Shibata making a bunch of really good dead eye gasps while going out. Sakuraba was great at using his more dated skillset, still breaking out some cool throws and going for older MMA subs, and Shibata just came strong with strikes. The match ended when it should have, with a devastating kick, followed by a respectful bow to a mentor and friend after his win.

PAS: This was really, really good. Sakuraba brings such a legacy into a pro-wrestling match, and is great at telling the story of his life with wrestling as the medium. I loved how he would mix in stuff from Pride into a Shibata style potato fest, Sakuraba isn't going to stand in from of Shibata anymore then he would stand in front of Wanderlei Silva, so when Shibata starts to crack him, he moves right into a choke or a thai clinch or anything besides an exchange. Sakuraba's chokes were so cool, I loved the choke with the ankles and how he would scramble on Shibata's back counter ever attempt to throw him off. I didn't love the finish I have seen the kind of soccer kicks it takes to finish Sakuraba and that shot was no Ricardo Arona.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

2015 Ongoing Match of the Year List

17. Young Bucks v. Angelico/Jack Evans PWG 7/24

PAS: I am really rating this as a whole segment. Ricochet and Tozawa are hugging after their wank off of a match, and Super Dragon comes from the back and starts killing folks, the Young Bucks come out in Super Dragon masks and the three of them lay waste to the entire locker room. Super Dragon especially kills Candace LaRae including curb stomping her on the bottom turnbuckle which is just horrific looking. All three guys are hateble dicks. Finally Evans and Angelico make the save with some big dives and we have a balls to the wall spotfest tag. I imagine if I watched a lot of Young Bucks matches I would get tired of their shtick, but it is fun in small doses, and Jack Evans just takes a huge asskicking. Didn't out stay it's welcome (Hero v. Bailey earlier on the show went 5 near falls and 6 minutes too long) kept it moving and had plenty of high points.

ER: Well this is pretty much the spotfest of the year. This is just absurd, at times flat out impossible wrestling. This whole segment was outstanding, with Super Dragon destroying everybody while the Bucks wait for them to feed out of the entrance way. Reminded me of the big coliseum scene in Gladiator where all the captives are shoved into the battle arena and one gladiator is just waiting at the entranceway to blindside them. The abuse LaRae takes is borderline uncomfortable, and Super Dragon basks in the discomfort. And the beatings just continue, and continue, and that's what makes the Evans and Angelico entrances so great, as they rush out and separately fling themselves into the attackers. Angelico especially just launches himself past the rinpost and into the crowd. The Reseda venue adds TONS to a match like this, as the crowd is just directly in the way of everything at all times, and this match featured guys constantly flying into the crowd in dangerous and spectacular ways. Some of the double teams in this are just.....I have no idea how they came up with them. I'm not even going to begin to describe them, but there were so many strange "I'm holding this guy and then another guy jumps off of me into a shooting star and then I do a 450 while holding this guy" and it's incredible that nobody broke their neck. Sometimes I think they're setting up one insane spot and then they take it a whole different direction ("oh, obviously Evans is going to springboard onto his partner's back while Matt is holding Angelico in a samoan drop.....wait Evans did that and then moonsaulted from Angelico's back to the floor!?!?"). Guys fly in and out of frame, you get every flying move you could possibly desire, done from the top to the floor, done springboard style, men fly into fans, through chairs, and the whole thing is a flat out sprint from beginning to end. This is the match you show to your friends who don't care about one bit about pro wrestling, and then watch them lose their shit the entire time. Just unreal.


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Monday, April 25, 2016

Lucha Underground Season 2 Episode 13: Monster Meets Monster

ER: Man, I thought Dario was setting up an Aerostar/Fenix/Drago trios team and that is far more exciting to me than a team with PJ Black.

1. Aerostar vs. Drago

ER: Striker says Drago is going through a sophomore slump this season, but he's only faced Jack Evans ad competed in Aztec Warfare. And he wasn't treated like a joke in those. Is it his fault the promotion is dead set on focusing on Sexy Star and Killshot every damn week? Flyer vs. Flyer matches are usually major disappointments, and this was no different. These guys need a base in there to pace out the match and transition them to their next flying spot. Without that, you have two guys not really sure how to smoothly move into their next moves, so they end up hitting a big spot, lying there, and then just getting up so the other guy can hit a big spot. For two guys with some graceful abilities, they sure do manage to look really clunky while setting each other up. To get into position at one point, Aerostar misses a clothesline and somersaults through it...except Drago was just ducking down on a knee that whole time, not moving. So you have Drago taking a knee, motionless, and Aerostar walking past him, throwing a perfunctory clothesline two feet over Drago's head, and then just somersaulting right next to him. Man that kind of shit looks ugly. Aerostar worked a knee injury throughout the match, rubbing his knee and then blowing a springboard spot, and going back to his knee later on. It didn't go anywhere, as Drago never touched it and Aerostar kept doing flying moves. Eventually, one of those moves got a three count. This match would probably look really awesome as a minute long youtube video. But the real deal was a major disappointment.

PAS:  I did like how they worked around Aeorstars blown dive, it makes perfect sense for a guy who tries so many crazy spots to crash and burn on some of them. Sabu blowing dives actually helped his mystique for me, he came off as a completely unhinged maniac willing to do anything to win. I would have much rather seen either guy against a rudo, they really need to bring in Steve Pain to base for these dudes.

ER: "Making me work for it. Classic Cueto." Nice read, Mundo.

2. Jack Evans, PJ Black & Fenix vs. Disciples of Death

ER: Dario says DoD have to be considered the favorites, because they're former champs and are used to teaming together. I mean, they were awarded the titles and have never actually won a match, or even controlled the majority of a match. But sure, let's act like these guys aren't basically the Spirit Squad but without an awesome trampoline entrance. Oh god, now they have names? Have they always had names? And this was the best the DoD have ever looked, but to what point? They still looked like jobbers, and the vignette of Catrina promising Muertes that "they won't disappoint you again". Well, they've literally done NOTHING but be colossal disappointments. Which is what you get when you make Well Dunn out of lightning. Here they had to stand around numerous times waiting for the storyline "uncooperative partner" drama to play out, but they never even got to capitalize on it! Evans would refuse to tag in, DoD would wait around for them to sort it out, and then they'd still not have the advantage! So all that shit was stupid, and it overshadowed what was a really great Fenix performance. Through all the bullshit and all the jobbers being treated like actual threats, Fenix blasted those masked shitheads with kicks, hit some slick dives, and generally looked like a star in a match that didn't really allow for that. PJ hits his nice springboard 450, sometimes the DoD look good but nobody gives a fuck which one looks good and which one doesn't, but this was a nice Fenix show.

PAS: I liked Jack Evans in this too, and it was a fine goofy spot fest, still I am with the DoD hate, what a bunch of total goobers, glad we are finally done with them, although I am hesitant to embrace singles Sinestro Del Muerte.

ER: Welllll...TWO of the Disciples of Death are dead, after getting Temple of Doom'd by the bacne'd member of DoD. If he has the ability to rip the hearts out of electric men, what was he doing stooging for Jack Evans comedy spots 10 minutes ago? How were they losing matches when they have heart ripping ability?!

PAS: Yeah that was really stupid, this guy can appear out of nowhere, and rip hearts out, you figure he might be able to get a fall on PJ Black.

3. Mil Muertes vs. Matanza

ER: Yeah buddy, there aren't too many match types that I love more than two monsters colliding. And these two collide and it is glorious. Matanza is good at showing vulnerability, and Muertes looked like a flat out beast. Muertes hits the best powerslam you've ever seen here, and Matanza does those crazy rolling gutwrenches. I loved Matanza's huge bump over the top, leading to Dario getting involved more than he's ever been before. He takes his first bump off a Muertes choke (really Dario taking a spill should have been played up huge), and it's smartly placed to allow Matanza more time to recover from what looked like a legit nasty spill. I liked all the chairshots and gas can/water can shots. Once they got on the office I sensed a gimmick finish, but even with the gimmick finish Dario totally made it, with the camera doing a couple great shots past the monsters, directly into Dario's horrified facial expressions. I'm really excited to see these two collide again, probably a couple times.

PAS: This was really great, I think Matanza running through people so far makes it a bigger deal when Muertes is able to take him down and hurt him. Super props to Dario for taking that big bump, that is not a normal part of a character actors job. The brawl up the steps was nasty with both guys walloping each other with gas cans and the final bump was crazy and memorable. It was a an obvious first chapter and I can't wait for the second.

ER: The cop show stuff at least gets a little more intriguing without the direct involvement of Castro and Ryan, as TV's Renegade, Lorenzo Lamas comes in to talk about the mayor. If they got Lamas for just a Councilman, who could possibly be the mayor!? Edward James Olmos?? Phil was really kind of adorable flipping out about Lorenzo Lamas over text. "He was in Falcon Crest!!"

PAS: I watched this show before Eric and I teased him with a text that LU debuted its biggest name yet. Eric was "Bigger than Rey? Is it Santo?", and undeniably Lorenzo Lamas is a bigger name, he was the Renegade!!


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Sunday, April 24, 2016

R.I.P. All Japan Motherload - Terry Funk

Months back I wrote up several rare late 70s/early 80s AJPW matches that had been uploaded by mysterious Japanese benefactor SKK, who seemingly got ahold of a bunch of footage that nobody had ever seen before. There were some real gems in the lot, but I took a break to write about other things and intended to go back. Literally the day I decided to go back and dive into his collection, was the day his page got torpedoed. Crushed. Obviously this stuff just needs to be removed from the internet. We can't have weirdoes watching Bill Irwin matches from 35 years ago. Thanks, universe. And also, thanks, universe.

Terry Funk vs. Tor Kamata - AJPW 12/3/79

This is my favorite Tor Kamata match! Which, yes, is like choosing your favorite nu metal band. Except this is good! This is the hardest I've seen Kamata work, and Funk is really great at putting over offense of guys like Kamata. Funk can make a gassed Kamata chinlock look good, and Kamata did gas out, but he did so nobly, by doing a too-much-fun arm drag sequence with Funk. Two large men working like late 70s Ricky Steamboats, Tor taking multiple armdrags and rolling through the bumps to run up and into more armdrags, then get tossed on a fun monkey flip/back drop. Kamata also drops a fine kneedrop across Terry's chest. Funk punches him a bunch and then we get one of the more amusing ref bump sequences I've seen, as Terry gets a nice nearfall on a small package and then grabs an abdominal stretch. As the ref leans in to check on Kamata, he hip tosses Funk onto the ref! And Terry is great at flopping on the poor ref. The next move Terry takes he makes sure to do an exaggerated "Rock taking the Stunner" sell so that he goes out of his way to flop on the still downed ref, again. This ref also has brittle bone disease (probably) which causes a man falling onto him to knocked him out, and this gives Kamata ample time to cheat with a chain and choke Funk the hell out. It's all thrown out, and then the real fighting begins as Kamata gets busted open huge and his whole face is bloody, and we all remember how much we fucking miss blood in professional wrestling. I'm going to press up trucker hats that say "Make America Blade Again". Kamata bails to the floor and uproots one of those strands of connected folding chairs and launches them up into the ring at Funk. Kamata then has a real Oh Shit moment as he realizes Funk now has a row of chairs and he is standing in the ring over Kamata on the floor, lording over him like the Greek God of Assbeating looking down from Olympus. Funk launches the chairs at Kamata as Kamata does an awesome Don Knotts-ish comedic scramble run to get out of the way, and we fade...

Terry Funk vs. Jerry Oates - AJPW 7/83 - HAIKU EDITION

Fine Oates headscissor
Jerry once wrestled a bear
No chance against Funk

Funk's hand and Oates' face
Worked Funk four times on this tour
Sore jaw probable

Oates gets some offense
Terry can be generous
But not much to see

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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Good Will Wrestling DVDVR Reunion

Dean Rasumussen, Phil Schneider and Phil Rippa all discusses their lists for the PWO Greatest wrestlers project.

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2016 Ongoing MOTY List: Aja v. Meiko

Aja Kong v. Meiko Satomura Sendai Girls 4/8

PAS: These two have been feuding since 1998, but this is their first singles match against each other since 2012. One of my favorite match ups in wrestling history. Aja is maybe the greatest monster wrestler ever, she has slowed down a bit but still will beat you silly, Meiko has great looking chop down offense, she was landing some great kicks, and even doing some cool kicks and stomps to Aja's instep. Kong lays a sick beating here, including braining Meiko with chairs and a metal door, punching her in the face and dropping her on her head, and Meiko kept finding ways to land her own shots. I thought it may have gone a bit overboard in the end, including some goofus no selling, but man overall this was a hell of a war. Loved to see this revisited, now we just need another Ishikawa v. Ikeda match.

ER: I love how these two dance with each other. And I always love how Meiko looks like any other unassuming Japanese woman, somebody you wouldn't notice in public, yet if you only know she's a maniac who can get dumped on her head time and again and come right back and kick you in your connective tissue. The early lock up moments were so cool, with neither cutting the other slack, no knuckle lock or arm wringer just given up. Meiko had all these neat short kicks to areas you don't see getting kicked, like a kick to Aja's shin to set up a lock up, or a kick to the forearm to set up a wristlock. It was a cool way of striking to open up an opportunity to get in close. Meiko keeps getting in close for side headlocks and the whole time I'm thinking what a terrible idea it is to put a side headlock on Kong, and sure enough before long Meiko is getting dumped on her head. But the match ramps up to a whole new level when Meiko flies off the top with a splash, and Kong sticks her legs straight up in the air, with Meiko landing full force on them stomach first and bouncing grossly off to the side, like a skater messing up a rail slide. I can't believe spots like that don't go viral. Meiko rolls to the floor and Kong follows for ass kicking reasons. Meiko gets tossed through chairs, gets chairs tossed at her, gets a heavy looking piece of ring barrier tossed at her, gets dropped with a brainbuster on the corner of that ring barrier, gets dropped with a brainbuster on a corner of Kong's trash can. She takes a lot of damage, is what I'm getting at. But she keeps coming back, keeps fighting, keeps finding ways to get at Kong. Meiko probably did take a bit TOO much damage to come back to the level she did, but overall it was a whole lot of fun watching them do their thing.


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Friday, April 22, 2016

MLJ: Two Years of Lucha: Atlantis, Máscara Sagrada, Pantera Del Ring vs Jerry Estrada, MS-1, Negro Casas

1991-10-27 @ Arena Coliseo
Atlantis, Máscara Sagrada, Pantera Del Ring vs Jerry Estrada, MS-1, Negro Casas

My first actual review here on SC, as part of the lucha journey, was on April 21, 2014. Since then, I've written three match reviews a week, every week, without fail. That's two years and just above 300 reviews. Three hundred is a lot of anything. I never expected to actually stay on schedule. I never thought that I'd still be doing this two years later.

Once again, thanks to Phil and Eric for letting me playing in their sandbox. While I'd read the site for years (and have been attached at the online hip to DVDVR since I was 17 in 1999), I think it surprised me a little how much our collective views tend to sync up. We all piss off the same people for the same reasons, basically. That was a happy accident. Thanks, also, to everyone who takes the time to read these. I started this for myself, as a way to wrap my head around lucha, but it's appreciated when anyone leaves a comment or posts about them on twitter, or links to them, like Cubsfan does religiously. Thank you.

I do think I've hit the realm of diminishing returns. It took me maybe 100 of these to figure out how things like trios matches really worked. After that it was exploration up and down, especially when a new bit of footage popped up, and there are still thousands of matches out there for me to watch, but I think the value in me moving forward as I have been is sort of limited. I'm going to finish the Sombra Spotlight over the next few weeks. It doesn't make much sense to go past 2014 since I already covered those matches. I plan on making a Master List early next week because I do think people who follow NXT but not lucha will be curious and this might give them an in. After that, I think it's time for me to start looking at things that aren't lucha as well, and maybe not with the 3x a week regularity.

So, this is what I picked for the two year anniversary. I wanted some sort of Casas vs Atlantis singles match, after the trios I saw the other day, but they are few and far between. I thought about the Casas/Mistico vs Atlantis/Olimpico tag title match, but this just jumped out at me more. Panterita del Ring is Ephesto, which makes this interesting. That it had an all time rudo side makes it interesting too. MS-1 is the ultimate rudo goon and Estrada, in 91, was just so over the top and dynamic, constant motion with the tassles flowing this way and that.

The match is a beautiful Casas showcase, with him being as nasty and craven as possible. This gif sums it up really well:

Atlantis giving the thumbs up, Cass walking over and casually kicking Panterita between the legs. Panterita selling as he rolls into the crowd. That's the match. It's primarily a Casas vs Panterita focus, with Casas stooging, heeling, ducking and dodging. They have a signles match in January of the next year and I presume this, in part, builds to that. Let's get the big thing out of the way first here. Something happens relatively early in the match (it could be that water is tossed into the ring) and they have to stall for a while. Normally, that's a match-killer. Here, though? They stall by Negro Casas locking in the nastiest armbar that the world had ever seen in 1991, just grinding it back against the metal connective bits of the turnbuckle. It's awesome. The problem is this. He had to lock it on for close to five minutes while his partners play crowd control.

(That's the guy with the mop to clean the ring, by the way).

It's cool enough to be compelling and even if it wasn't, Casas' performance and his intensity and charisma are enough to make it work. It worked well enough that people kept on throwing things into the ring in anger at him. The problem comes in the fact that Panterita totally drops the arm selling the second he's on offense and then for the rest of the match. Generally, that's fine in lucha. It's all about momentum shifts, not that high level consistency. This was such an abberation, though, and the hold was on so long, that it really stood out as a blight upon the match.

It was okay for a while though, with the rudos in control Casas using it as an opening to beat Panterita around the ring, and to his credit, he did sell the big picture stuff well for a time. Really, Casas was just a joy here. He's so good now. He was so good then, but he was so good with just more energy and playfulness and a chip on his shoulder. Estrada was a perfect partner for him too. I love this rudo side.

Eventually, of course, the tecnicos come back, and yes, Panterita just ignores the arm completely. You end up not caring too much because in the midst of the comeback, Casas decides to run and hide behind a cameraman and it's the best thing since the armbar:

Sagrada and Atlantis are in this match too, sure, and they play their parts well enough, especially in the comeback, but this was all about the rudos. When it ends, it ends in a satisfying way. It's a weird one but I'd suggest watching any pairing of Estrada and Casas in this era. It still boggles my mind that I've seen hundreds of matches with Negro Casas and there's something new and fascinating in every new match I see.

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Lucha Underground Season 2 Episode 12: Three's a Crowd

ER: Dario crushed it in that opening segment. "No, I like my plan better" and "Yeah yeah we know. You're a machine" were classically delivered. He really knows how to play off of wrestling acting.

PAS: Dario is really great, the material he is stuck with is really hit or miss, but I just love his delivery.

1. Argenis vs. Killshot

ER: Striker says it's been many months since we've seen Argenis, and then in the same breath talks about how we saw him in Aztec Warfare. You know, a few episodes ago. It feels like half the episodes this season have opened with a freaking Killshot match. Vampiro talks about how Killshot's movements have been more "military" since coming in with new gear. A) what the fuck is military movement in pro wrestling, and B) how can anything Killshot does be compared to any kind of military? Was it his kick that whiffed? Was it his double somersault ace crusher? Was it the Argenis superkick he sold by not realizing he had been kicked and continuing to climb the ropes? Striker and Vampiro are now ONLY talking about Killshot as a soldier, something not mentioned until last week. Every fucking thing he does now relates to an IED blast or PTSD. It's fucking awful.

PAS: I thought this was the best Killshot has looked,which is an incredibly low bar. His new gear is kind of cool, and I suppose him having some gimmick is better then no gimmick. Still Killshot is still Killshotting.

2. Daga vs. Texano

ER: Did somebody get hurt in this one? Was there a clip? Or do both men just have the magical ability to look good one moment and then like really bad pro wrestlers the next, usually with neither looking good at the same time. Early on Daga sells a move by awkwardly holding his groin, and then spends most of the match selling his left arm despite no work being done on the arm, and then would spent a couple moments not selling the arm...but then would go right back to selling the arm. He also had multiple moments of bumping moves before they came close to hitting him, like when he just waiting to be kicked off the ropes to the floor, but fell off before Texano got there. Or later when Texano threw some of the worst lariats I've ever seen, and they would have looked bad even if Daga hadn't already been bumping them before they made contact. I mean that segment where Daga takes a mistimed bump when Texano barely grazes him with a lariat, followed by Daga taking a flip bump from a lariat before it reaches him, was one of the very ugliest things I've seen on LU. I don't even know if I'd expect to see something that embarrassing in a Sexy Star match. For a guy I've liked before, Texano sure has gotten the very least out of a lot of guys so far. Daga is one of those guys who wrestles with an extreme disconnect. Sometimes his stuff looks good, but he always looks like he's thinking about how to execute the move, and what step comes next in his routine, instead of making it look like a natural exchange between two bodies.

PAS: I thoughts parts of this looked pretty good, they were definitely working pretty stiff although the LU sound sweetening was working over time. I agree that those clotheslines looked terrible, but I think this mostly achieved what they were shooting for. Nothing I would ever watch twice, didn't really make me want to see either guy again, but no need to slur them with the Sexy Star curse.

ER: Why the hell is Muertes still hanging out with the Disciples of Death? Shouldn't he have murdered them by now for making him look like such a poor supervisor? They love their comedy skits, so have Muertes in a shortsleeve button up and bad necktie, telling the DoD that their poor performance reflects poorly on him as their supervisor. "I created you from lightning, and trusted you to accomplish the clear goals I set out for you. But I don't want to spend my time micromanaging you, telling you how to do every step of your job. Productivity is DOWN, and we need to get better." And then he makes their heads explode like in fucking Scanners. There, I just took 20 seconds to write a better shitty "real life job" sketch than the police officer nonsense they're running.

3. Rey Mysterio, Dragon Azteca Jr. & Prince Puma vs. Johnny Mundo, Taya & Cage

ER: Fun match, although maybe I had expectations higher than I realized, as I was left hoping for more. I actually thought it was a match that succeeded far more at the little things, with then"big spots" leaving me a little flat. Little story and character moments like Rey getting yanked off the apron before the hot tag, or Cage rebelling against his forced tag partners by using Taya as a weapon and tagging in Mundo by slapping him, those kind of moments hit HUGE. But some of the big spots came off flat and overly planned. Dragon Azteca made a nice match debut, some of his spots looked really good (Mundo tossing him in the air only for him to grab a DDT on his way down looked awesome) but needs to tighten up his strikes. At one point he kicked Cage in the stomach to break something up and Cage hadn't realized he'd been kicked. They built to the Rey hot tag really well, and I oddly got really excited for a Rey/Taya singles. Taya has the charisma to pull off being a good Rey opponent, and I dug Rey's interactions with her in this. The go home stretch was good, the build to it was good as happened as it should have, I was just left a little...well I guess I wanted more. I'm difficult.

PAS: I liked this more then Eric did, I thought this was pretty pitch perfect for a spotfest trios match. Rey looked incredible, he looks like he has regained 75% of his speed and he was just bolting around the ring. It is incredible that Rey is as old as he is and he looks athletically on the level of kids like Azteca and Puma. Loved all of Cage's power spots, slamming two guys at once, catching Puma in mid air in suplex position, he sometimes overdoes it in singles but is a great multiman guy. Just exciting spot after exciting spot, with a little bit of story and a superstar team working great together.

ER: Feels like they're going to Matanza/Muertes far too soon. I guess they don't have anywhere else to build to, they're clearly the two big monsters and everyone wants to see them go up against each other. It just feels like these two won't meet JUST one time, so maybe I'm not as excited for this match, assuming it will be just something to set up another match? I dunno. But I liked the almost oddly touching moment between Dario and Matanza, with Dario telling him he's the most valuable thing in the world to him. It's a sentence that can be viewed as both exploitative, or strongly affectionate, which is why it was so good.


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2015 Ongoing Match of the Year List

PAS: Totally lunatic spotfest, the best crazy lucha spotfest of the year. Steve Pain and Aeorstar have just crazy chemistry, breaking out some super awesome next level spots, felt like nuclear powered Rey v. Psicosis, Dick Togo v. Yakushiji stuff. Aerostar also breaks out an insane tope where he goes fully vertical. Daga and Australian Suicide were fun potato shotting each other, and all the other guys broke out some cool spots. Still you have to watch this for Pain v. Aerostar

ER: When you're going to do a spotfest, do a spotfest! And this right here was a good spotfest. And while you would rightfully come for the Aerostar vs. Pain match-ups, the rest of the guys all had value as well. Hijo de Pirata Morgan is not a guy I watch much, and after he took the safest bump possible on an early rana I already had him as the weak link, but after that I thought he looked good. He's a nice power wrestler, stands up to dives, hits a really nice vertical suplex, hits a really great moonsault and handles some basics very nicely. He was a pleasant surprise. Daga is not a guy I love, but a guy who certainly works far better as a rudo. And he was a total dickhead in this match. That was a major strength of the match, not just Daga being a dick, but the rudos feeling like rudos. And more than that, the rudos felt like a TEAM. Not just three assembled rudos, but they felt like three like-minded dickheads. That adds sooooo much to a match like this. The tecniocs all had fun stuff, with Fireball dying on a dive and breaking out some nice ranas, and Australian Suicide flipping out post-match as he and Daga beat the absolute shit out of each other. I have no idea what happened but it was a couple seconds away from the post match of an Onita vs. karate guy match. For whatever reason that start rapidly and violently teeing off on each other, in a way that immediately screamed "we are actually punching each other's faces". They get split up and Daga has a brutal cut under his eye that's gushing blood. Holy shit. But yeah you want Aerostar and Pain. Pain is a classic rudo base, working almost like a larger version of a great mini base like Demus 3:16. He does really vicious power offense and then hangs in for the ride on some of Aerostar's nuttier armdrags. These two clearly know each other and bring out some magic. The Aerostar tope is an easy contender for spot of the year, as he plows through Pirata completely vertical and then flips into the 4th row. AAA does the opposite of AAAing the shot, as they get a couple great shots of the tope and show it several times in all its glorious detail. This was too much fun.


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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

MLJ: Sombra Spotlight 30: Atlantis, La Sombra, Triton vs Dragón Rojo Jr., Negro Casas, Último Guerrero

Aired: 2012-04-28
taped: 2012-04-20 @ Arena Mexico
Atlantis, La Sombra, Triton vs Dragón Rojo Jr., Negro Casas, Último Guerrero

We're jumping ahead a couple of months here. I skipped over another Ultimo Guerrero singles match because I didn't want to watch the exact same match again (it probably was). What I was hoping for with this trios was a lead-in to the upcoming Dragon Rojo, Jr. title matches. Unfortunately, the 1 Week Ahead trios match with them isn't online, and that's probably all the build it had. this was close and had both Rojo and Sombra but that wasn't the focal point at all.

Instead, it was Negro Casas vs Atlantis, and this goes back to just how maddening CMLL's booking or lack there of can be. Casas was amazing in this match, just amazing, working rudo in a far more devoted and considerable way than he usually did in the Peste Negra era, playing chickenshit, getting his shots in on Atlantis, hiding behind his partners, just a brilliant performance, and because it was up against Atlantis and not Sombra or Triton, the crowd bought into it. Any other night, they'd probably be cheering for Casas in the same way that crowds tend to cheer for old man Flair no matter what, because he's that charismatic relative to everything else around him and because he's a legend. Atlantis is a legend too, though, and he's as tecnico as tecnico can be in this day and age. All well and good, right? Here's a trios with them up against each other, with the payoff deferred and delayed throughout the match until Casas was finally able to sneak out a dirty finish. That'd obviously lead to a heated singles match, be it a title match or just a mano a mano one, or maybe even an Apuestas (though, of course, Casas had JUST lost his hair in the Blue Panther draw). Nope. There's no sign that they had a blow off to this, or even an escalation. CMLL strikes again.

Past that, it was sort of business as usual for a match like this. They ran Guerrero vs Triton with basic and servicable matwork to start, ending with the rudo swarm. The best thing here was Casas throwing some crazy headbutts at Atlantis. I've seen hundreds of matches where he didn't use those headbutts but they made sense here and they were nasty and visually compelling due to the contrast of the white mask, and they worked. This ended with some of this era GdI spots, including the alley oop into Dragon Rojo's missile dropkick and the senton de la muerte in the corner, made all the better by Rojo putting his foot down upon Triton's foot to hold him there in the set up (which I'd not seen before but it's the little things that matter).

And lots and lots of Negro Casas being an awesome, loathesome rudo.

It all ended with the afformentioned nefarious mask-pulling and rolling up and I wish there was a singles match, but what can you do?

Sombra, here, was very effective as sort of the second tecnico in the match. He was in there to do some big spots, to eat GdI offense with Triton, to keep the match moving and add some excitement, to try to do his best to help Atlantis get his hands on Casas, and to hit the dive at the end. Speaking of little things, during an exchange against Dragon Rojo and Ultimo Guerrero, I like how he made an extra little grab at Rojo, one that had to be reversed, before doing some of the stock miscommunication spots. It was a tiny thing but it added just a little bit of struggle to something that often comes off as choreographed (benignly, mind you).

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

NXT Episode 222 5/22/14 Review

1. Bo Dallas vs. Big E

Good match, continuing the run of Bo Dallas being a completely different presence on NXT compared to any point of his main roster stint. I really like the way he falls, love how he gets into position for his opponents. Here he takes a huge shoulder block by stumbling backwards into the bottom rope, and later stumbles around great after Big E shrugs off his rope run bulldog attempt. I liked his comebacks, especially his sick chop block on the floor and his fast low crossbody. This was also helped by me not knowing which way the match was going to turn, as they had the stip of Dallas leaving NXT forever if he lost. Bo's desperation shone through during the match, which was important, and even though the finish fell a little flat (Bo undoing a turnbuckle pad before obviously getting felled by the turnbuckle) this was a good match.

2. Tamina vs. Paige

Oh cool my least favorite Diva, Tamina! Why even have this match in the middle of the NXT Women's tournament? Let Paige move on and leave rubbish like Tamina on the main roster. Focus on the new ladies. And man did Tamina ever look like warm dogshit. I didn't think it was possible for someone to be on the main roster as long as she has and not improve a lick, but the proof is there every time she wrestles. Paige did what she could, including an impressive bump off the top to the floor. Tamina is just as uninteresting as they come. The ending is a total embarrassment as Tamina is supposed to miss a big splash onto Paige's knees, buts ends up landing on her feet in a way that doesn't even look like she touched knees, let alone looked like she was attempting any sort of offense. Ask yourself, what would you have done if Paige hadn't moved her knees up? You would have landed on your feet, next to her. Good plan. Is the company this loyal to Jimmy Snuka of all people?

3. Camacho vs. Adam Rose

Cool, another dud Adam Rose match! How did anybody think this guy had what it takes? I like his spinebuster and his bronco buster looks good, but his character is a dud and doesn't fit his lousy ring style. Sometimes Rose takes a nice bump, in that "I'm untrained" kind of way, like when Camacho shoves him off and he flies onto his tailbone, but man is he the pits. Match itself stunk too, as Camacho just got "overwhelmed" by the awesome offense of Rose, then just rolled to the floor and stood there while the ref slowwwwwwly counted him out. I mean shit, ref, you know what the finish is, maybe speed up the count just a bit so we don't get both guys standing there like total goobs?

4. Sasha Banks vs. Natalya

Fun, if inconsequential match. I do like that Sasha appears to be all talk and someone who usually gets her words fed back to her at this point. It fits her attitude and skillset, but it's not a role someone is often put into without it being pointed out constantly by commentary. Natalya threw some stiff dropkicks including an especially nice one to a seated Sasha (right after running up her from behind and stomping her head into the mat). I expected this to be worked like there were more consequences. This was for a chance at the vacant title! But it was worked like a middle of the hour Velocity match that had been allotted 4 minutes. This could have been on a house show, with nothing at stake, or it could have been taped months in advance. Other than somebody winning and somebody losing, nothing important happened. It felt like a 4 minute vacuum match from them. And this should have been a really important match, especially for Sasha. Natalya has been on the main card for years at this point, but Sasha? This was her chance at the vacant Women's title on an NXT special show. You'd think she would cheat, claw, scratch, and fight for this opportunity at the belt. But instead we just did some stuff until Natalya effortlessly locked on the sharpshooter when it was time to go home.

Damn next week's Takeover looks like a really boring show. Neville vs. Kidd? Adam Rose vs. Camacho? Ehhhhh. Maybe some matches will over-perform and it won't be so bad. But I'm not excited on paper for any match on the card, so that's not a great sign going into the show.

5. Curt Hawkins vs. Adrian Neville

Hawkins weirdly showed up in the terrible battle royal last week, the only guy in it who wasn't a regular, and got eliminated early. So this week he gets a main event against the champ! I guess Neville needed a big win against a guy who people had forgotten about? I had forgotten about Curt Hawkins. I did a word search on this very site for "Curt Hawkins" and found 3 different things I have written about Curt Hawkins. One of them was in a lucha report, where for some reason I talked about Curt Hawkins when talking about who would and wouldn't make a good lucha base. But in that blurb I said "...and I like Curt Hawkins!" This was written about 5 years ago. I have zero memory of anything Curt Hawkins has ever done. But 5 years ago I "liked" Curt Hawkins. He was a guy I liked! Who the hell was 30 year old me?? What did he like about Curt Hawkins??? This match was a bunch of nothing crammed into 90 seconds, with Neville sorta kinda hitting but mostly missing the Red Arrow.

Tyson Kidd comes out after the match to create DRAMA for their drama-free match next week. But it's weird. Because Tyson acts angry, but doesn't actually say anything heelish. He angrily says he wants the belt, wants to use it to get back to the main roster, wants to use the belt as his stepping stone to hearing 25,000 people cheering for him, wants this belt to be his second chance. All of that makes TOO MUCH SENSE. Kidd said it intensely, but none of that stuff is mean stuff to say. Neville responds by telling him that the only member of his family who has a chance to win gold next week is his wife, "as usual". Wow. What a shithead thing to say to somebody. Really rubbing Kidd's nose in the shit right there. The babyface champion of NXT is a real petty shit.


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Monday, April 18, 2016

MLJ: Sombra Spotlight 29: La Sombra vs Negro Casas [NWA Welter]

2012-02-13 @ Arena Puebla
Negro Casas b La Sombra © [NWA WELTER]

There's a small chance I might have covered this one before, but I don't think I have. Regardless, it's a fit chronologically and I sat through the Volador title match, so I consider this one my reward. Casas was over 50 here and about to draw Blue Panther in an apuestas match at the next big show. Sombra was more or less at the height of his power, having won the Universal Tournament a few months before. It had to seem very unlikely that Casas was going to walk out with the belt. I do feel that sometimes CMLL's booking geniuses do that, though, giving someone about to lose their hair a bone in that regard.

So, this was good, pretty much as good as you'd think. For one thing, the crowd at Puebla is somewhat different than Arena Mexico, so even though the latter had started to turn Casas face and Sombra heel (while still being a rudo and tecnico in the booking), that wasn't the case here. Sombra was well-cheered. Therefore, when Casas tried to appeal to the crowd, it had the more desired effect of just getting him more heat and making him come off as flippant and frankly "wrong."

They also had a really solid primera. It was straightforward in that the matwork wasn't extremely tricked out or anything, but it was heavily focused, and felt worthy of being part of a title match. The best stuff was centered around them dueling over cross-arm breakers. It was a more focused struggle than I was used to in a match like this and that just made it stand out more.

If the Volador match was more, more, more, this match was far better at whetting appetites. Casas, for instance, took the segunda in part by running down the entrance way to freeze Sombra on a dive and throw him off his game. Just as important, it meant that the big dive was pushed to the tercera so (again) when it happened, it had build behind it and actually meant something.

The tercera was dynamic, building on the damage throughout the match to justify the selling. It had some really nice counters and inversions too, like the best camera-caught version of someone blocking Casas' seated senton dive.

It also had its share of really good near falls before Casas locked in just a beautiful pulling back pin after countering the second double jump moonsault of the match. Not only was it a call back spot, as that was how Sombra took the primera, but I'd never seen Casas (or maybe anyone else) break out that exact pin before. Sombra lost, but he looked just as good coming out as he did coming in, which was important for how they were using him at the time and is always an accomplishment.

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Sunday, April 17, 2016

WWN Supershow: Mercury Rising 4/2/16

PAS: My buddy Dylan Waco called this show the best show he has ever seen live, so I figured I would check it out. Lots of awesome on paper stuff here, hopefully it lives up to the hype.

ER: Last year's Evolve/WWN Mania weekend shows were far and away my favorite live wrestling experience of the year, and right up there with all time for me. Great atmosphere, great wrestling, tons of my buddies with me. Can't really go wrong. Watching these VOD might not feel as special, but I love a lot of the talent, and the venue itself has a killer vibe. All the faux storefronts and strung up hanging lights make for a cool visual as guys spill to the floor. I'm in.

1. Chris Hero vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

PAS: Man Chris Hero's throwback Golden State Warriors gear makes him my new favorite wrestler, that is so dope. Hero was awesome in this match, I think it is his best performance in year. He totally brutalizes ZSJ while delivering some sweet smack talk, at one point he calls Sabre sweetheart while begging him to hit him. I loved how Hero used typical indy counter stuff as a shit talking move, he would counter Sabre's stuff and use it to taunt him, nice use of something which can come off like applause pandering under other circumstances. Sabre is still a little unnatural to me, his KO selling and fired up faces seem pretty performative, it isn't nearly as bad as Davey Richards, but it is in that same phylum. This also goes a bit too long, no opener, no matter the back story or talent involved should go 30 minutes. Still I did love the finish run, with Hero getting more and more vicious and Sabre trying to pull out a flash submission, or roll up and just getting overwhelmed until he gets put to sleep. Great stuff, and I like ZSJ consistently falling short to Hero, it is going to make his big win really big.

ER: Hero's too-tight Golden State tank top and trunks make him look like he's wearing half of a kid's jammie set. Or like Hank Venture wearing his Aquaman PJs. Hero is one of my favorite guys in wrestling, one of those guys who I would go out of my way to watch wrestle anybody. And I loved his act here. He really had this cocky thing going, but not in a way that was brushing off Sabre, but more like a guy confident in his abilities who went out partying the night before. So he was out having a good time, and throwing some elbows and kicks on his way there. And I loved how this match progressed, with Sabre easily outpacing him to start, kicking him all around the ring, catching and blocking all of Hero's chops and elbows, and eventually Hero has enough of that and just straight punches him in the face. And from there the match settles into Hero kicking some ass, with Sabre being so damn squirmy and smart that he occasionally finds ways to reverse Hero, or make Hero's body or attitude work against him. Sabre always pulls out quirky reversals and here I flipped out when Hero went for a senton and Sabre kicked his legs up so Hero landed on the back of Sabre's thighs, right into an armbar. THAT was awesome. But Hero is too damn strong and while Sabre is good at blocking or catching some elbows, he can't catch them all, and those elbows that land, land HARD. And Hero starts punishing Sabre for his earlier reversals, planting him with a couple of authoritative sentons. Hero has arguably my favorite moveset in wrestling, and I love it against Sabre. Also love that Sabre hung in there the whole time, always looking for an opening. At one point Hero opens his arms for crowd adulation, and Sabre rushed into frame to grab Hero's outstretched arm. There was some punishing stuff throughout this one, all of that ankle/wrist/finger/elbow joint manipulation always makes me cringe, and I love Hero getting occasionally frustrated (him flipping out when Sabre wraps a chair around his arm, but then accidentally swinging his trapped arm into a ringpost was a great little moment) but never completely losing sight of beating down Sabre. It did go a little long, but I've seen tons of shorter indy matches that felt much longer. These two know how to fill time. This felt like maybe the greatest ever Hero performance, a perfect convergence of his ringwork and character.

2. Fred Yehi vs. Drew Gulak

ER: A year ago I thought Gulak was a step behind the best of the grappling sub guys, and at this point he may be my favorite of them. But then you have Yehi who at this point is must see against anybody. Guy is legit. And these two tear down for 9 hot minutes and it's great every step of the way. Both guys are constantly working to be one step ahead of the other, and you always end up seeing a reversal or transition that is totally new and totally fresh. I don't know how these two maintain their bearings with how fast they move in their scrambles. I imagine it would be like not knowing which direction is up while underwater, but they always look totally locked in. Too many cool things in this one to list them all, but I especially loved Gulak locking on a side headlock and running circles around Yehi, like he wanted to twist that head right off. I've seen Yehi sell a knee like he did here before, and it's an impressively real touch to this kind of grappling. Sweet Dee on Always Sunny does a real great fake gagging face, and I imagine doing a convincing knee buckle is as impressive a personal niche to a wrestler as a fake gag is to a physical comedienne. It lead to some real exciting momentum shifts as Yehi would come up swinging and plant on that leg, once sending him falling to his face, another time making him wobble hard. Both times Gulak smelled blood in the water and pounced. I like how the knee played into the finish, but not in a traditional "work the leg" kind of way. Instead it just slowed Yehi down and left openings for Gulak, which allowed him to roll through with his dragon sleeper choke, a chance he might not have gotten otherwise. I pretty much want to see every match these two have, against anyone.

PAS: I loved this, Yehi is one of my favorite new guys in wrestling and it is really fun to watch him match up with a true pro like Gulak. His offense always looks a little different then regular wrestling offense. The angles he throws suplexes, the parts of the body he stomps it is just a bit off. Gulak has a much more traditional wrestling base, but knows how to work interesting struggles around Yehi's weird stuff. I agree with Eric about Yehi's leg selling it was awesome , and I loved how aggressive Gulak was when he saw it, they way a great counter puncher will parry until he sees any opening.

3. Tracy Williams vs. Matt Riddle

ER: Team Catch Point explodes! Is Matt Riddle the most obvious wrestling Rookie of the Year since Akiyama? Sure feels like it. He's shown so much intuition in his first year that I have no idea what he can do to improve past his current level. But if he keep cranking out matches like this then I'll continue to be along for the ride. Williams is a guy I like but also a guy with a lot of ideas, and a need to squeeze all of those ideas into his matches. Riddle is a guy who can dish it and take it so match him with Williams and you're going to see Riddle taking some damage, maybe too much. There were some real oh shit moments here, with Riddle bouncing right on the top of his head on a vicious lariat, and later on off a top rope DDT leading to an immediate tap out finish. Williams has some harsh offense to unload on Riddle. His upkicks were gross, and his power offense is done sparsely enough that it really impacts when he breaks it out. Riddle is so much fun during these matches, suckering Hot Sauce into a ropes assisted arm bar, taking a wild bump over the top to the floor (no shoes!!! People who wrestle with no shoes are certifiable), hitting a couple of cool flying knee variations, breaking out the neat Alabama Slam/heel hook combo, and bumping like wild. I liked the story of two teammates pushing each other further in competition, as opposed to one of them just suddenly acting like a heel and everything being cool afterwards. I may need a Team Catch Point t-shirt...

PAS: Yeah this was a total blast, I think I liked their match earlier in the year a bit better, but these two just click. I am also totally all in on Matt Riddle. His jumping knee strikes to the torso are totally nasty here he looks like he is going blast Williams kidneys out the other side of his ribs. Riddle also takes some truly sick bumps, like Eric mentioned that top rope brainbuster/DDT bump looked totally neck fracturing. Williams is a really solid guy in this style, he doesn't have the flash of Yehi or Riddle, but he is a great workmanlike member of this stable.

4. Anything Goes: Ethan Page vs. Anthony Nese

PAS: This was a fine WWE style garbage match, with both guys finding lots of different ways to land nastily on chairs. I especially liked Neese smushing Page's head into a chair with an Asai moonsault. I haven't really cared for either guy previously but this was fine violent stuff, and was a nice balance for the rest of the show. Still both guys really killed each other in a midcard match with a lukewarm reaction, felt like that punishment should have meant more.

ER: Fun match, felt like the kind of thing that would be regarded as a classic if it had happened in ECW. And I really liked Nese in this, really using all of his athleticism to take lunatic damage. And I kinda liked Page here more than I have before. This match was kind of the perfect use of his bloaty detached douche character. There was some pretty brutal stuff in this and I assumed it would go way into overkill, and it never did. That quebrada onto Nese's head on a chair is an all time brutal spot. Rewound that one a couple times. And Nese was great at sending his forehead into ladder shots, then getting turned inside out on a vicious tornado ladder shot from Page. Good grief. I thought things really built nicely and the powerbomb onto chairs with a nice piledriver after was a great way to finish things. For a match I went in with pretty low hopes for, this far exceeded them. Good stuff all around and made me want to revisit Nese.

5. Taylor Made vs. Nicole Matthews

PAS: Not a great idea on a weekend which had so much pushed high end women's wrestling to put on a dud like this. There was a mix of potato shots with some offense that looked really weak. I liked some of the stiffness, but both ladies were pretty awkward. The gimmick of these Wrestlemania weekend indy shows is that the ring work is going to be better then the big shows, this wasn't as good as the Divas 10 man, and was way lesser quality then either the NXT or Wrestlemania ladies matches.

ER: I'd not seen either gal before, and this match certainly isn't going to send me scrambling to find more Shimmer or Shine shows. I thought Taylor was clearly the better of the two, and Matthews looked real bad at times. I liked some of Taylor's stomps and boot scrapes, but this was mostly formless as sloppy, with some shots landing hard and then a moment later the worst clothesline you remember seeing. Sometimes sloppiness can get harnessed into an overall positive, depending on the workers, but this was just aimless and bland. My favorite parts of the match were Andrea's two running kicks, and it's usually not a great sign when the best parts of a match are a couple moves done by a second.

6. Jason Cade vs. Gary Jay vs. Maxwell Chicago vs. Caleb Konley

ER: I had mixed feelings about this one. There were plenty of amusing moments in it. Maxwell Chicago is a comedy guy I haven't seen before and a lot of guys have funny schtick the first time you see it. At the same time it's a title match, so the FIP title looks a little silly getting its showcase in a match that had to completely stop multiple times for comedy. Cade is definitely a guy who seems like an Evolve undercarder: small, does flying moves, easily confused with a few other guys like this on the American indy scene. Jay was really fun and I'd like to see more of him. He seemed like a goofball but also backed that up with some stiff strikes. I'd like to see him in a short violent singles. This is probably the best I've seen Konley look, and he was smart to mostly stay out of the way of Chicago's comedy. Maxwell clearly stole the match and basically steamrolled everybody else. Even during other guys' big moments he would still be stooging and carrying on with an extended bump from a move that had happened well before. Konley played along on a couple of the spots but mostly let the other guys get steamrolled, putting himself in the position of the serious asskicker who keeps setting the match back on track. Konley down the home stretch was awesome, pretty much right from the moment he obliterates someone with a backfist. Match was fun and didn't overstay its welcome, and this is the kind of thing that definitely would play even better on a live show, especially coming out of a long intermission and a dull women's match.

PAS: I liked this less the Eric, I couldn't get passed all of Chicago's Chikarisms. It is fine to do shtick in a match, when it makes everyone stop wrestling and point out how fake everything is, I am out. His wacky "I am afraid of heights dive" made the three other guys wait for him for way too long and then sell the dive as brutal. Thought the other three guys were fine, although nothing outside of Konley's backfist made any impression on me.

7. Sami Callihan vs. Timothy Thatcher

ER: I felt bad for these two here, as at this point it had to have been a looooooong day of wrestling for fans and wrestlers alike, and it's almost like the previous match took the last bit of energy the crowd had. There were some strangely silent moments here that can only be explained by people being exhausted, considering the great reactions Evolve crowds usually have for everything. It made certain things come off a little flat in the match, things that usually sound killer, and then it made some of the legit violence come off across as in a vacuum, two sadists killing each other in silence. Things came off a little disjointed, with Thatcher doing a super convincing job selling his elbow the entire match, very much seeming like a legit injury, but with Callihan mostly staying away from the elbow. It's odd to see Callihan hit a stiff powerbomb on Thatcher, and then see Thatcher sell the elbow and none of the powerbomb, but Callihan then still going for KO blows instead of just ripping apart the elbow. That DOES come eventually, and it looked brutal, with Callihan locking on a top wristlock that I actually think should have gotten an immediate tap. Thatcher had been selling that thing before any actual lock up took place, and sold it as being in barely manageable pain the whole match, but then having that nasty wristlock locked on dead center of the ring didn't appear to make the elbow any worse. I don't think it's possible for these two to have a match I don't like, and I know I'm dumping on major parts of the match, but these guys have a much higher floor than most wrestlers. So while I think it was below what they're capable of, below average Thatcher/Callihan is still good eats.

PAS: I liked this more then Eric, these guys have this weird rhythm which I really dig but I could see how people could think was disjointed. Kind of feels like a boxing match with two power hitters pot shotting each other but not throwing combos. Loved the violence of each big shot, Callihan has some nasty stomps and kicks. I agree the arm stuff was a little weird, although that top wrist lock was a big near fall. My only real problem with the match is that the Thatcher headbutt KO didn't look great and certainly should have been way bigger to get a knockout. There were so many nasty shots in that match that you really need to kill a guy to get a KO.

8. Tommy End, Marty Scurll & Will Ospreay vs. TJP, Johnny Gargano & Kota Ibushi

ER: Man, this was not good. For a match clearly presented as "breathless weekend-closing epic" there sure was a lot of time where guys were awkwardly standing around waiting to be superkicked for the 8th time. Ospreay is a guy with a lot of kicks, and none of them look good. Scurll is a VILLAIN but doesn't do anything villainous.  Everybody here completely forgot how to naturally get into position to take moves, sometimes at several points of the match. There were many moments of guys politely waiting around to be Irish whipped. The way they all end up in the crowd at the end is absurd, all waiting around to be gently tossed one at a time over the barrier, before Ospreay does a dive that overshoots everyone. At one point all six men squared off in the ring over an embarrassingly choreographed bit of rope running and bad stomach kicks. For something so clearly choreographed, you'd think it would at least threaten to get good at some point. Everybody looked far too cautious about getting in somebody's way, and you always had guys checking to make sure somebody else was hitting their mark so they could begin their dance steps. Gargano and End probably looked the best of anybody here, but nobody was utilized very well. This was a pretty downer way to close out a very good show. The new trend in indie shows appears to be frontloading cards, as I've been on a run of really digging the first half of shows and then just waiting for the rest of the card to finish.

PAS: People really liked this match, including some people who's opinions I trust, and man I am saying no go. There were a handful of cool spots, I really liked the double military press ace crusher, and a nice dive or two, but mostly this was just a bunch of guys doing stuff. Stopping the match multiple times to watch Osprey and Ibushi lightly massage each others faces with forearms wasn't a great idea. The face off triple team stomach kicks was one of the worst spots I have seen in years. Six man indy spotfests are not my bag as a style, but come on yall you have seen MPRO, youv'e seen Nitro lucha, shit you have seen SAT's v. Divine Storm, this was not that.

ER: Overall this was a really good show, primarily for the first half. The first half stands up with some of the greatest pro wrestling of all time. THREE different matches from the show ended up landing on our 2016 Ongoing MOTY List, with Hero/Sabre and Gulak/Yehi landing the top two spots so far. Other matches weren't far off from being listworthy. This show would be well worth the time and people should go out of their way to see most of it.

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Saturday, April 16, 2016

NXT Episode 221 5/15/14 Review

1. The Ascension vs. Buddy Murphy & Elias Sampson

Quick squash with Sampson not getting in the ring, and Murphy getting steamrolled. Konnor throws several really great stomps to Murphy's chest, and then leveled him with the Fall of Man, which Murphy takes great, really folds himself up.

2. Alexa Bliss vs. Charlotte

Oh yay back to back weeks of Bliss. And it was mostly an extended Charlotte squash, which is for the best as Bliss looks better sitting in a submission than trying to struggle through offense. She still did her overly complicated and clunky roll up (which beat Fox last week) and almost drops herself on her head while bumping a knee to the stomach. Charlotte has a really great abdominal stretch, where she wrenches it in and violently cranks the person's neck. So that was nice. But this wasn't much.

3. Mojo Rawley vs. Aiden English

Bummed that English had to get fed to Rawley, but English made him look good and actually had a real (albeit only 3-4 minute) match with him. Mojo can't do much so the whole match was English doing his thing until we get the go home sign and Mojo does his shoulderblocks, rear view and bombs away, in order, as always. Really wish they were giving Mojo his ring time off TV, as I'd much rather see English in a real match.

4. Angelo Dawkins vs. Colin Cassady

Man now we get a Big Cass extended squash. What the hell is with this episode? Cass is a guy with some cool short strikes: I really like his body shots and knees. But all of his impact offense looks bad. He's like a guy who grew up idolizing Test. And SAWFT was amusing for like two matches, but I have a feeling I'm going to be seeing him use it for a couple years.

5. Tyson Kidd vs. Tyler Breeze vs. Sami Zayn

This is for the opportunity to face Adrian Neville at the upcoming TakeOver show, but damn I just wish they had done a singles. Any three of these guys would match up nicely in a singles. But I suppose it's not crazy for the winner to face Neville for the title, and the two losers of this match fight at TakeOver, with the winner of that maybe getting a shot down the line. If that's what they plan to do. And this match just never clicked. We had some classic triple threat disappearances, and couple silly trainwreck spots, and guys selling like they had been through the war of their lives after 7 minutes. This whole thing is mostly flat, but it didn't get truly bad until the premature WARTIME selling. The type of shit where a guy breaks up a pinfall and all three lie on the mat selling and breathing heavy, like they just got done with a Godspell performance. All three men, lying there selling as if they've never been more tired, even though all one man did was pull another man off of another man.

This was a bad show right here, filled with squash matches of a couple of my least favorite guys, and topped with a lousy main event.


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Friday, April 15, 2016

MLJ: Sombra Spotlight 28: Blue Panther, La Sombra, Shocker vs Felino, Mr. Niebla, Negro Casas

Aired: 2011-12-03
Taped: 2011-11-25 @ Arena Mexico
Blue Panther, La Sombra, Shocker vs Felino, Mr. Niebla, Negro Casas

I needed a fairly disposable trios match to wash the taste of Volador vs Sombra out of my mouth. This fit the bill as it had Blue Panther and Negro Casas, relatively early on their road to a March, 2012 hair match. It'd be the sort of light, gif-worthy affair that I tend to enjoy.

In the context of what I had been watching, however, it was pretty weird. As far as 2011 tecnico teams go, this is a pretty crowd-pleasing one. Shocker, broken down as he might have become, was hugely charismatic. Blue Panther, sans mask, was a sympathetic seller and a fiery old man who the crowd could get behind. We saw back in September, 2011, just how over Sombra was in the match against Averno. So three tecnicos up against three rudos. It should have been pretty straightforward.

It wasn't. Something had shifted in the DNA of CMLL. While Sombra and Panther might not get booed as much as Rush or Mascara would, the crowd was thoroughly behind La Pesta Negra. This wasn't unprecedented. CMLL had a history of "cool heel" groups in the 00s, with the Guerreros and Perros Del Mal, but they always had a different level of tecnicos to go up against, be it Santo or Casas himself or Dr. Wagner, Jr., or Mistico. This was a post-Mistico world and in the wake of his departure, and with the end of the boom, there really wasn't anyone left on the roster ready and able to hold the tecnico line against a weekly crowd that no longer bought into that ideal. In short, Sombra, while ascendant, simply wasn't enough.

La Pesta Negra weren't cool heels by any means, but they were lovable scamps of rudos, ridiculous and fun and charismatic. They'd ham it up, Zacarias in tow, and play to the crowd, hyping them for exchanges. Here, the tecnicos didn't help their cause, ambushing them before the fact as they were making their goofy entrance, both Niebla and Zacarias dressed like Hellboy, of all things. Niebla is the lord high king of diminishing returns, breaking out the same "catch the spit" spot, the same pratfall, the same drunken antics in every match, but he puts more care than almost anyone else into his gear and his look and the crowd eats it up and he comes back again and again, sort of like a lucha Captain Lou with the same endless chances and a much better slap-punch.

I like to believe there are certain cosmic forces in lucha libre. Tecnicos get punished for certain things. One is going to mask ripping first without a damn good reason. Another is ambushing the rudos on the way down. It's a cute little inversion, but it lost them the mandate of heaven, and they quickly succumbed to a Pesta Negra comeback. Even later on, Sombra would go out of his way to kick Zacarias down the ramp, which in some matches would have been warranted. Here, not so much.

There was a spirited comeback in the tercera, including plenty of Blue Panther ankle lock foot biting and some good action towards the end. The tecnicos won on a DQ that made Pesta Negra look especially strong and that kept the heat on Negro Casas going into their next match and on the march towards the eventual hair match, but it was very clear the dynamics here that would lead to the crowd turning on Sombra the rest of the way and the to the birth of Los Ingobernables, even if that was still a couple of years off.

(you miss it here, but he totally kisses the head of the guy in the crowd after the dive).

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Thursday, April 14, 2016

2016 Ongoing MOTY List: Owens v. Cesaro

Kevin Owens v. Cesaro WWE Raw 4/11

ER: This was a nice throwback to 09/10 WWE when we were getting a couple nice 10-12 minute TV matches every week. It seems like good TV matches are a kind of cyclical thing. Vince gets an idea that we need to showcase the athleticism every week, then he gets sick of that and goes back to wanting more authority presence and depending on who is left working TV every week the really good matches disappear. 2014 was littered with good TV matches, not even counting NXT or whatever might be happening on Main Event of Superstars (I maybe need to start skimming Main Event and Superstars for gems.....). 2015 was a wasteland of good TV matches. 2016 is kinda like 2015. But this match here was a nice throwback. Tidy, focused, 10 minutes. They have the built in story of Cesaro's bum wing, and Owens is good at attacking it, and Cesaro is good at selling it. Owens is all about tossing Cesaro shoulder first into all types of surfaces, and Cesaro whips that shoulder into the mat, ringpost (in a couple of nasty ways!). Owens is good with Barry Darsow style verbal putdowns and has no problem leaning into boots and uppercuts (loved Cesaro's graceful springboard uppercut), able to stooge while also being mean. We do get some annoying TV match happenings, like Cesaro taking a huge bump into the ring post and down to the floor as we go to commercial, then coming back to him suplexing Owens off the top. I hate that kind of stuff. But this was still real fun and I certainly wouldn't mind a shift back to weekly TV matches like this.

PAS:  I enjoyed Owens shit talking in this, it is something which I got sick of in his indy run, as it approached Chuck Taylor fourth wall breaking meta bullshit, but it is a nice change to a WWE ring style which can be very formula. I agree that the commercial break was especially ill timed, but all of the armwork and Owens nasty frog splash all looked really good. These guys match up well last year before Cesaro got hurt, and it is a solid return to form. I do think that it is weird that Shane's gimmick is "put on a good show" as opposed to all of the bad shows they normally put on, seems like you should just put on a good show all the time.


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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

MLJ: Sombra Spotlight 27: La Sombra © vs Volador Jr. [NWA WELTER] (Sorry)

2011-09-18 @ Arena México
La Sombra © vs Volador Jr. [NWA WELTER]

I have no one to blame but myself. I made a promise at the start of this process not to watch any of the 24 Sombra vs Volador singles matches. I've been trying to get a good cross-section, but mainly jump between matches that look like they'll be good. I have absolutely no faith in the pairing of Sombra and Volador. This is based on a few bad experiences. Volador, Jr. is a very talented luchador. He's someone who apparently cares deeply about his craft. He's someone that I actively like in big trios matches. I think he's striking when he's being a jerk in the ring, and could portray a Miz like character exceptionally well. He hits his stuff as well as anyone in CMLL, is smooth and precise a lot of the times and is extremely athletic. Unfortunately, without restraint, focus, and resonance, those are skills rendered not just nearly useless but at times, actively harmful to matches. Even without some of that, in a wrestler, they can be utilized by others and by the sheer structure of the form, in a trios match beautifully. Singles matches though? Not so much.

This one fooled me, and it fooled me for three reasons. The first is definietly on me. I thought that, hey, maybe I should just give them another chance. Why? Well, the second is that I've been enjoying 2011 Sombra a lot, and just two nights before this, he had the match with Averno which was smartly laid out and paced so well, and just full of emotion and meaning. It was great. It also felt similar to him having a really strong match with Liger and then a dynamic high flying match with Psicosis II just one night later back in 2010. It felt like a natural bit of symmetry.

The third was that it was only 19:14 long. That is, the video was only 20 minutes long, maybe 16:30 of action. That's what fooled me the most. I thought that there was no way they could, in that little time, have one of their bloated, spot-laden, no-selling, empty matches, especially given the other factors. If nothing else, the first two falls would eat up some time, and maybe, just maybe, rudo Volador meant that there'd be some actual heat and control to the match. Just like every other match between the two I hit the 2/5th mark, thought to myself just how well they hit their spots against each other, and wondered if maybe, just maybe, it'd be ok. Then, I realized just how long was left, the fact that they'd blown through the first two falls, and that there was so much time left, and I realized that no, things were not going to be okay.

There are a thousand ways to have a good match, and a lot of people do like this pairing because it's dynamic and they do hit their stuff well and they have lots of counters and what not, but none of it means anything. There's a moment at the ten minute mark where they trade some big submissions, including a Cavernaria which feels like a big deal at almost any point in CMLL, and it was just washed away by the next three spots. In order to contrive top rope moves, Volador does the same kick to the head of Sombra when he's on the top twice, at two different points, with no rhyme or reason or strategy or payoff, once at 11:52, once at 14:49. I'm not sure I've ever seen that in a match before when it wasn't them fixing a flub and I don't get how that happens in a match with two wrestlers who are as imaginative as these two are. The transitions, the connective tissue, the underpinning of the match that turns spots into a narrative... none of that mattered. It was all just means to the end of getting to the next OOH or AAH! It's pure finisher spamming and bomb throwing. Given the sheer amount of stuff they were doing, they could have ended it again and again and it just droned on, spectacular and terrible. And the finish? The finish is Volador hitting a twisting Canadian destroyer out of the corner, Sombra no selling it, popping up and hitting his own.

I do think anyone going through Sombra's career should check these matches out because they're dynamic and the people who do love them love them for a reason. I am just not compatible at all with them. They go against so much that I love about lucha. They show that he could do exceptionally well in an 8 minute TV match, but more is not always better, especially when it's more for the sake of more. Like I said, this one's on me. I should have known better. Sorry.

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