Segunda Caida

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

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Ravin' on Jimmy; Or, Jimmying on Rave: A Glance at Jimmy Rave

Jimmy Rave vs. Chris Crunk (AWE 9/20/15)

Rave hasn't worked regularly for a major indie (ROH, TNA) since 2009, but since then he has carved out a nice niche working tons of Georgia and other southern indies. He used to looked like Michael Pitt, now he looks like a soft body McPoyle brother. Or perhaps a disgraced low end Culkin sibling. But body matters not to me. And Rave is easily finding a lot of favor with me right now because he is an absolute beast in the ring. This match was already enjoyable during the opening mat game, and then with no warning we hit a brutal 8 minute salvo of Rave attacking Crunk's face with some profane elbows and punches and slaps and some of the hardest clotheslines you've seen since the last Ikeda match you dug up. Rave throws a gorgeous, honest lariat. There's no flubbing the details, no requiring a flip bump, it's just a arm slamming into a chest, somehow not dislodging a shoulder. It's an honest, workmanlike clothesline. He's got long arms and uses all of the arm. And then the strikes. Good heavens the strikes. I don't ever recall "Jimmy Rave: Vicious Striker" being a thing even a few years ago. But he's certainly that now. And he doesn't just steamroll Crunk. He establishes himself as King, allows Crunk to nicely pepper in comebacks, and then goes back to believably demolishing him. We don't devolve into hit me, hit you strike exchange tedium, we have one guy just clearly tougher than the other, and with the finish not really ever in doubt Rave is still able to make Crunk an interesting opponent. Rave has always been an underrated wrestler. Now he's clearly just a really great wrestler.

Jimmy Rave vs. Drew Adler (AWN 1/16/15)

This almost had the feel of a long Flair touring match, where he would go into a town, have a long Flair match with a hunky babyface, and give all the kids and girls plenty of opportunities to root for their local hunky face. Just like those Flair matches you watch them and think they could have shaved several minutes for what they ended up accomplishing, but it's nice having some of those extra minutes and really this didn't feel like a 30 minute match, which is important. Rave is just so damn good that you don't mind seeing 30 minutes of him working his spots in, and finding ways for a face to work in his. Watch his body language when he hits his apron STO, rolls into the ring and immediately signals the ref to start the count while he just takes a breather. Then watch his face when the fans erupt as Adler beats the count, and Rave checks over his shoulder and reacts with a "oh COME on" that the fans eat up. Rave sets up signature stuff so nicely, never making his opponent look like a doof for attempting a move that he normally wouldn't have tried, just so Rave can get his shit in. No he's smarter than that. I loved how they set up the apron STO, with Rave luring Adler out there and blasting him with a chop, then spitting on him to get Adler to throw a right hand which would leave him open to taking the STO. Rave's execution on everything is really great, loved that slick school boy he did out of the corner, knowing exactly how far away from the ropes he was so he could easily stretch a leg back. I'm more and more convinced that Rave has the best current clothesline in wrestling, just a big stiff straight arm with no give. He definitely has the best short arm clothesline. Adler for his part does what he should, feeds into all the comeback spots, hits his pump kicks, has some really fun stuff rolling through pinfalls, ably takes some quite complicated armdrags (man I love Raves armdrags) and gets the well earned win. This was a solidly built long match, really wouldn't have taken tons more for me to think it MOTY listworthy. Touring heel Jimmy Rave is a guy I'd seek out live any chance I got.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Matt Riddle Wakes Up Late for School Man He Don't Wanna Go

Matt Riddle v. Chuck O'Neil Beyond Wrestling 1/31/16 - FUN

PAS: Chuck O'Neil is also an ex-Ultimate Fighter contestant so this was these guys doing a US Indy version of a worked shoot. This had a bunch of fun ideas, which looked really cool when they pulled them off. The strikes in this felt a little pulled, inconsistent shots is still a problem that Riddle can have and O'Neil's shots didn't look great either. The grappling was dope though, O'Neil putting on an omaplata and then getting spun countered was really cool, as was Riddle holding the guillotine choke through a suplex. I am excited to see how these two grow with each other, and am looking forward to checking out their June rematch.

ER: O'Neil was on the last season of TUF that I watched though I would be lying if I said I remembered much about him. This was a short fun match, but it ran a little too close to "fake MMA", as opposed to just a cool looking worked fight feel. The rolling was fun, O'Neil tosses Riddle with a couple nice suplexes (straight over the top belly to belly and a German where Riddle's body went stiff and bounced another few feet after landing). As Phil said the strikes weren't very tight, which held this back from being a really wild sub-5 minute affair, with the standing kicks to the chest especially disappointing. But the finish was awesome with Riddle leaping into a guillotine and O'Neil trying to suplex out of it, but Riddle holding on and rolling through with it. Bonus points for Gulak sporting a 0.7 on the "HBK Officiating a Best Golden Girls Quote Contest at Pride Weekend" ref attire scale.


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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Matt Riddle Screams and Hollers at Your Chevy Impala

Matt Riddle v. Falah Bahh MFPW 6/11/16 - GREAT

PAS: Bahh is an agile enormous dude who works a Yokozuna gimmick. Bahh was really great in this, he has some very fun immovable object spots, and breaks out some impressive athletic feats as well, his body press is very fast and devastating looking it has to feel like getting hit by a smart car. Riddle works much more like a traditional wrestling babyface in MFPW, with less shootstlye flourishes and he is really fun in this finding ways to use his speed and KO power to find attacks. He does this leaping guillotine with knee strikes that was immensely cool. Loved the finish too, Riddle's jumping knee was totally believable as a KO blow.

ER: Boy was this my kinda match. Fat guy, didn't overstay its welcome, fun spots, yes ma'am. Announcers push Bahh as 400-500 lb, which I don't buy for a second, but fat is fat and if they want to pretend he's bigger than the fattest era Vader then fine. And Bahh had some fun fat guy stuff, especially loved his crossbody, which Riddle sells by coming off the ropes and running into a volleyball net made of fat. He also catches Riddle doing some grappling and just dumps him with a great suplex. Bahh drops a great legdrop, too, which is essential for his type of low center of gravity fatness. Riddle's knee combos are superb and he is always so good at hitting them point of knee, super accurately, no matter if he's standing or flying recklessly off the ropes. Riddle delights further by hitting an insane swanton, floating 2/3 of the way across the ring and really waiting to tuck until just about the last minute. For the first part of the move he looked like he was on wires. Just nuts. I really loved this match. It wouldn't have taken much more for it to land on our MOTY list.


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Monday, June 27, 2016

The King Busts a Street Light Out Past Midnight

Jerry Lawler/Blackjack Mulligan v. Ken Patera/Jerry Blackwell AWA 3/4/84 -EPIC

Very cool opportunity to watch Lawler match up with Blackwell again, they had a classic singles match in Memphis also the Sheiks are a legendary tag team and any chance we get to check them out is welcome. Lawler has a bunch of tag matches, but we don't get to see him work as face in peril very much, unsurprisingly he is awesome at it. There is some really great spots working his way out of bear hugs, Lawler is great at getting space in bear hug, clearing enough room to land a punch to the face, bear hugs can be a boring time killer spot, but both Blackwell and Patera are great at applying them and Lawler is awesome at extricating himself. There are also some great back and forth punch exchanges with both heels. Finish is a little screwy, but has great heat.

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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Daisuke Ikeda Makes Decision with Precision

Daisuke Ikeda/Katsumi Usuda v. Takeshi Ono/Yuki Ishikawa BattlArts 1/27/97- EPIC

This was a battle of four all time greats at their absolute athletic peaks. All of these guys are still great wrestlers when they show up, but their style has slowed down a bit as they have moved into their 40s. Here they are all in their mid 20s and the exchanges are so much faster and explosive without surrendering any of the chilling violence. The opening of this match is a great example of the brilliance of this style, Usuda and Ono have this lighting quick intricate exchange of kneebar counters, which was ended by Ikeda running in and kicking Ono's head into the fourth row. A Sunday of skill and speed with a cherry of brutality on top. The match continues on that vein, with great exchanges by all of the participants, with all four looking great. Ikeda throws some of his classic crowbar lariats along with nasty kicks and some really good desperate leg selling. Really the kind of match that isn't done anywhere anymore, and it was such a pleasure to watch.


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Big Time Wrestling TV 6/24/16

1. Ruby Raze vs. Kahmora (2/19/16)

They've added a "ref cam" for a couple parts of this match, which is wholly unnecessary. I don't think a ref cam has ever looked good. Modern ref cams come off looking almost exactly the same as when they first toyed with this gimmick 25 years ago. The benchmark is still early 2000s AAA ref cam which would have an ear piercing BEEP sound every couple of seconds while we were in ref cam view. Anyway, I had seen these two on the opposite side of a Premier tag match last year, with Raze and Kikyo opposite Kahmora and Savoy. I really liked that tag, but this fell a little short. A lot of strikes whiffed, there was some miscommunication moments, Raze had some awkward moments backing into position for moves and sandbagging Kahmora on a German. It went pretty early into big move epic feel, with a DDT on the apron, big neckbreaker with Kahmora draped over the top (which the hilariously inept Hank Renner Jr. calls "out of nowhere!" even though she carefully set it up for several seconds, and the only other move she can do from there would have been a high angle DDT), and then planting Kahmora with a nice back suplex for the win. I could see them having a better match, as several moments seemed a step off. They do each seem better in a tag setting though.

2. Jack Madison vs. Tyler Bateman (5/13/16)

Bateman is a guy I really like, who often seems to match up against opponents who aren't really used to his style. I did see an awesome match with Thatcher once and loved it, but typically he's working nasty wrist locks on vanilla babyfaces. Here he is working nasty wristlocks against a vanilla babyface with a Top Gun gimmick! Disappointed that Bateman cut off his long locks, I really liked his jerk ponytail. Now he just looks like a skinnier modern Anthony Kiedis. But the arm and wrist work is still nasty. This match was real fun with Bateman wrenching on Madison's arm, bending his wrist at some seriously sick angles, bending and biting at his fingers, while leaving plenty of room for Madison to make comebacks. Bateman would always come back to the arm and Madison was game for selling it. At one point Bateman had Madison's arm over the top rope and was pulling hard on it back through the middle rope, really rough stuff. Finish was pretty standard 80s babyface stuff, selling for 85% of the match and then hitting a couple moves to win, but the moves looked nice and Bateman got nice height taking a rydeen bomb. Madison really needs to figure out how to do a legsweep though, as it looked far more like Bateman dropped him with a DDT. Madison is pretty new though, so hopefully he grows out of the phase where he looks like he does moves to himself. Bateman is a real fun talent and I hope he pops up on TV more. I always dig seeing him.

Hank Renner Jr. is just the worst though, officially one of my all time least. Everybody is a "student of the game" or some shit, and whatever his phony ass Gorilla Monsoon catchphrase gimmick is, it's failing badly.  His vocal and verbal presence on TV is a net negative.

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Saturday, June 25, 2016

2015 Ongoing Match of the Year List

26. Virus v. Avisman Chilanga Mask 4/12

PAS: Hey Avisman!! I used to love that dude back during the glory days of IWRG. He was always a guy who could work on the mat, and really developed into a great brawler, and then he disappeared (along with other awesome guys like Chico Che and Freelance) so IWRG could be all crappy fake Capos sons. This is Virus working a straight maestro style, focused on leg and arm locks and cool standing counters. Avisman is perfectly comfortable working this match, he has some very cool abdominal stretch variations, and looks perfectly comfortable countering arms and legs, great performance and I hope he shows up more. Virus is great at working this kind of match too, it is different then what he does in CMLL, and while I liked this a lot, I kind of wanted him to work more of his title match style so we could see Avisman stretch out a bit. This was a great painting, but I wanting to see them use more of their pallete.

ER: I really loved this, my favorite Virus performance of 2015, and Avisman is a cool guy to see him match up against. This could have easily devolved into heatless holds trading as there are hardly any strikes to speak of, but these two didn't let that come close to happening. These holds had meaning and Virus always looked like he was going for a finish, working over moves with actual substance. Avisman doesn't have the grace of other luchadors, which I thought really worked to the advantage of this kind of maestro style mat work. He would thud into the mat, land tailbone first on a double leg, his sunset flip and code red looked like actual scrambling pinfall attempts instead of large looping gestures. And the best thing he brought was, oddly, Avisman is a great screamer. His screaming helped Virus' holds as much as Virus being awesome helped is holds. Virus was so damn good at showing progression of holds, never ever making it look like he was just holding a guy static to fill time. You see Virus do a single leg, you can see 6+ different points of progression through it. You see him lock it in, you see him grab his own hand to tighten the hold, you see him grit his teeth which immediately gives the impression he's wrenching it in even more, you see him broaden his squat which bends the leg and back even more, and he does this stuff for every hold! This is about as far away as you can possibly get from Muta lying in a legbar for two minutes. And Avisman helps this move progression, as he yelps at all the right times, howls when an arm starts getting bent back, really made Virus sound like a sadistic dungeon master. Virus kept working different nasty bow and arrow variations, a standing abdominal stretch type one, one with him on his back, the classic knee into opponents back style, and he kept going back to that the entire match. So when Virus hit s his killer chopblock and locks it on again, it really felt like the finish. I loved Avisman's stiff unpolished counters to Virus' almost muscle memory skill, and this may have actually been my favorite of the last couple years of mat-based indy lucha.


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Friday, June 24, 2016

2016 Ongoing MOTY List: Pierroth and Rush!

24. Pierroth/Rush/Rey Escorpion v. La Mascara/Terrible/Shocker CMLL 5/20/16)

ER: Hey look at that, a 10 minute violent brawl with father and son being untethered dickheads, and it's awesome! Rush and dad jump Mascara on the ramp and drag him to ringside, smashing him through the barrier. We get tons of brawling through this, with Pierroth throwing the best strikes. His chops looked brutal, and when he and Terrible matched up it looked like a slaughter. I loved him holding punks nice and snug so Rush could get cheapshots. Pierroth would really yank on arms and Rush would blast them with kicks, then make dumb faces at the crowd. It was glorious. I loved when their mugging would cause a momentary tide shift, like when Pierroth was goofing off and Terrible just ran past him in the ring to break up a pin. Rush is super violent with Mascara and him getting held by Pierroth and Escorpion as Rush rips his mask apart was vicious, like we were witnessing a scalping. It made Mascara charging out with a fresh mask in the segunda even better, hitting a spinebuster on Rush on the rampway. This was a total father and son show, and it was killer.

PAS: I really liked this, had the ragged violent feel of your best lucha brawls. One of the things I love about Rush is his mastery of pace, his fast stuff is really explosive and his taunting really feels like it is in the right place. Also happy to see Rey Escorpion again, he disappears and shows back up and is always worth seeing, he is in the background here but is wailing on dudes in the background. Pierroth was pretty great, he has a very Kurisu crowbar vibe which is awesome, every shot he throws is a little nastier then everyone else, loved his body shots and he had a surprisingly great powerslam. OG Pierroth was also a great old man brawler and new school Pierroth lives up to his legacy.


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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Matt Riddle Spent His Last Dollar to Buy a Sabrett

Matt Riddle v. Q.T. Marshall MFPW 3/28/15 - GREAT

PAS: According to cagematch, this is Riddle's third match ever, and while he hasn't really developed his own style yet, he is already pretty great as a white meat babyface. I really enjoyed Marshall who was a fun CW Andersonish southern heel, nice back elbow, good looking bumping, solid bald spot, everything you would want out of a guy like that. Riddle was very arm draggy and dropkicky but everything he did looked solid and he had a great spinebuster. Really loved the finish with Riddle countering a double axe handle with a jumping knee to the face and another jumping knee for the end.

ER: We thought this project would be fun because it would give us a chance to follow along with an active career almost right from the beginning, but also really pinpoint when Riddle got good. And well, that part of the project wasn't that interesting because here we are in his third match ever, and he was already doing things that I don't see from 10 year vets. Look at the expert poise when he locks up around the 2 minute mark on the video, watch how hard he bumps a vertical suplex and then lifts up on his heels to hold his back after, watch him run into corner boots and go down like a shot, as if he expected boots to not be there. There are certain things that you just get, and boy does he seem to get them. Also I only saw one armdrag and dropkick. That's not very armdraggy or dropkicky. I'd never seen Marshall before, missed his ROH run, but I certainly would like to see more of him. I really liked his back to basics approach, loved his bumping (man did he go down for a lariat on the floor), loved his strikes, loved the way he tried to take apart Riddle's knee with those sick drop downs. I don't even know what to call them. He would catch Riddle's leg and then just drop down, snapping Riddle's shin or knee down across his own shoulder or chest. It looked awesome. I also really loved the strike exchange, and strike exchanges in indy wrestling are one of the most overdone things out there. Here Marshall throws a shot and Riddle surprises him by charging back with a rough forearm, and Riddle's knees looked great throughout, the ones from a Thai clinch, the jumping ones, really nice piece of offense.

So this was really good, and now we have to figure out what wrestler has had a better match by match #3. I don't think Mayweather is an option as Riddle didn't have the same amount of build, nor smoke and mirrors. Mayweather working Mania sure was a weird and awesome and unique situation. Okay, I looked it up and Victor Zangiev's third match was the Hashimoto match. Soooooo, okay, it's probably Zangiev. If we assume all of the Pancrase stuff was definitely shoot, then Bas Rutten's first match was the Carl Malenko one. Hiroyuki Ito debuted on the first U-Style show, had a great match and then by his third match was part of that killer Sakata match. So......okay, there are guys. But man those are some pretty impressive names to be mentioned with, this early. There also appears to be a trend with those names...

(also, this whole time I thought the Beastie Boys were saying "buy her some bread". Sabrett really isn't a product us west coasters know much about, but man is their actual lyric much better)


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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Complete and Accurate Matt Riddle

Matt Riddle may be the most impressive American pro-wrestling rookie since Brock Lesnar. The kid gets fired from the UFC for smoking weed and within a year is one of the most fun wrestlers in the world. This makes him a very neat Complete and Accurate candidate because we get to compile his rise as it happens. As usual Eric and I will be ranking matches on a scale of EPIC, GREAT, FUN and SKIPPABLE


Matt Riddle v. QT Marshall MFPW 3/28/15 - GREAT
Matt Riddle v. David Starr Legacy Wrestling 12/5/15 - GREAT


Matt Riddle v. Fred Yehi EVOLVE 1/23/16 - GREAT
Matt Riddle v. Chuck O'Neil Beyond Wrestling 1/31/16 - FUN
Matt Riddle v. Chris Hero EVOLVE 3/20/16 - EPIC
Matt Riddle v. Timothy Thatcher EVOLVE 4/1/16 - GREAT
Matt Riddle v. Tracy Williams EVOLVE 4/2/16 - EPIC
Matt Riddle v. Zach Sabre Jr. EVOLVE 4/26/16 - GREAT
Matt Riddle v. Anthony Nese EVOLVE 5/6/16 - FUN
Matt Riddle v. Cedric Alexander EVOLVE 6/10/16 - GREAT
Matt Riddle v. Falah Bahh MFPW 6/11/16 - GREAT
Matt Riddle v. Timothy Thatcher EVOLVE 8/19/16 - EPIC
Matt Riddle v. Louis Lyndon AIW 9/9/16 - FUN
Matt Riddle v. Chris Hero EVOLVE 10/16/16 - EPIC
Matt Riddle/Tracy Williams v. EYFBO AIW 11/4/16 - GREAT
Matt Riddle vs. Will Osprey Progress Wrestling 11/27/16 - GREAT
Matt Riddle vs. Ricochet EVOLVE 12/11/16 - FUN


Matt Riddle v. Katsuyori Shibata RPW 1/21/17 - GREAT
Matt Riddle v. Mike Bailey WXW Ambition 3/11/17 - GREAT
Matt Riddle v. Bobby Gunns WXW Ambition 3/11/17 - GREAT
Matt Riddle v. Timothy Thatcher WXW Ambition 3/11/17 - EPIC
Matt Riddle v. Dan Severn GCW 3/30/17 - GREAT
Matt Riddle v. Tom Lawlor Black Label Pro 9/23/17 - EPIC
Matt Riddle v. Fred Yehi EVOLVE 10/15/17 - FUN


Matt Riddle vs. AR Fox EVOLVE 1/13/18 - GREAT
Matt Riddle vs. Jaka EVOLVE 1/14/18 -FUN
Matt Riddle vs. Jeff Cobb MLW 2/8/18 - EPIC
Matt Riddle vs. Minoru Suzuki GCW Bloodsport 4/5/18 - GREAT
Matt Riddle vs. Deonna Purrazzo Beyond Wrestling 4/5/18 - SKIPPABLE
Matt Riddle vs. Zach Sabre Jr. EVOLVE 4/5/18 - EPIC
Matt Riddle vs. Daisuke Sekimoto EVOLVE 4/6/18 - GREAT
Matt Riddle vs. Will Osprey EVOLVE 4/6/18 -EPIC

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

2016 Ongoing MOTY List: Riddle v. Cedric

23. Matt Riddle v. Cedric Alexander EVOLVE 62 6/10

PAS: I am totally divorced from current ROH, so I am not sure I had seen Cedric Alexander before. His gimmick seems to be junior college linebacker who bought Schneider Comp 7 from me in 1999. He is undeniably a good athlete, but seems to be running through 90s Puro Spots, Kobashi chops, yelling braiiinbussstah, Michinoku Drivers. Very much not what I want to watch in 2016, still he has some real explosion with everything he does, that Michinoku Driver was really fast. I am sure I would hate Alexander v. Tony Neese but Riddle can do cool things with a clich├ęd guy. For example Riddle hits one of my favorite german suplexes ever in this match, he flips over on a suplex attempt by Alexander, grabs him from behind snaps him up in the air, does a slight deadlift pause and drops him lightning quick on his neck, fast, slow, fast just gorgeous. I also loved the finish with Riddle showing a bunch of different steps to set up the twister and then just cranks it for the pin. Ended up liking this a ton, Riddle is do no wrong for me.

ER: I *have* seen a lot of ROH Alexander, and I looked up all my reviews of previous Cedric Alexander matches, and every one of them had some variation of "so Alexander is not good, but..." Almost every match of his I've watched over the last year plus I did not like, and I often did not like him in them, but he always did a thing or two in them that I really liked. And it was always a different thing. The guy has never met a piece of offense he didn't want to add to his arsenal. In kayfabe terms you can put that over by saying that his opponents never know what to expect from him, but in practice you just roll your eyes when his Kobashi chops couldn't look more out of place. I also notice a thread through my reviews of him that I only noticed because I read them all at once and in order, is that I kept complimenting him on his "crumple" sell. I first saw him use it in a match with Moose, where Moose hit a big superman punch and Alexander just folded. But then in other reviews I saw he did the same thing, for more moves, and here he crumbles off a move really early in the match and now I'm just like jesus just take a flat back bump. It's like the first time you saw KISS and Ace Frehley shot a firework out of his guitar and knocked a light fixture loose and it seemed like the building was going to collapse. And then 15 years later you saw Bruce Kulick knock the same light fixture loose. And at a KISS show that hasn't even happened yet, it's just going to be a set comprised of Vinnie Vincent just shooting fireworks at equipment for an hour. Just play the fucking riffs. But Alexander is athletic and flexible, and Riddle can do a lot with a guy who is athletic and flexible.
Cedric does his thing and flips around and works like all of those other chest out/butt out indy guys, hitting a nice dropkick to the back of Riddle's head, but I bide my time and then Riddle hits THAT suplex, reminding me of Vader vs. Inoki, just alleyooping Cedric fast, up, over, and practically through the mat. I have no idea how he is not dead. But he somehow is not and from there everything is gravy. Riddle deadlifts him and tosses him Karelin style while Cedric tries to flatten out as much as possible, boots him in the back a couple times, and Cedric is always there with a couple of his super cool fast slams. Riddle made me hop out of my chair when he took that silly powerbomb-onto-knees thing and then sprung up halfway across the ring as if he had bounced off a trampoline instead of off a man's knees. Riddle is a total whirlwind, flying around with bare feet, leaping knees-and-ankles be damned off the ropes, throwing high kicks, just an overwhelming dude. Both guys move fast, jump high, bump wild, and they put as much into the last few minutes as you'll ever see. Fun stuff.


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Monday, June 20, 2016

NXT 227 6/19/14 Review

1. Sasha Banks vs. Alexa Bliss

Another match furthering the BFF angle, with Charlotte and Summer bickering at ringside leading to a distracted Sasha getting rolled up. Bliss is very much not good but she's clearly trying, she's just super klutzy and not ready for TV. She seems like she almost falls over on every move she attempts, just constantly off balance. Sasha looked good when the match allowed her to, loved her surfboard as she set it up by yanking on Bliss' hair and smacking her to get ahold of her arms. Other little "not actually offense" furthered her likeness to Stevie Richards, like her just grabbing a grounded Bliss by the back of the head and smacking her forehead into the mat. But yeah, there's trouble in the BFFs.

2. Mojo Rawley vs. Garrett Dylan

I was wondering when Jody Kristofferson was going to pop up, after they showed his dad in the crowd a show or two ago. This is not the first time I've seen a fed act like Kris Kristofferson just happened to show up at their event, without mentioning his son was wrestling. And Regal was amusingly harsh on Kristofferson, saying "Mojo Rawley versus...well, essentially a nobody" and pointing out that anybody who wears brown trunks surely doesn't care about their appearance. And this was your typical Mojo match, which is frustrating as it really doesn't do him favors to just work the same formula every match. His matches are always 2-3 minutes of opponent control, then him running through his moves to the end. If we mixed up the order a little bit we could have a more interesting ebb and flow, instead of just waiting until the point where he starts hitting moves. He is not good a taking a beating, although he at least attempted to sell body work that Kristofferson did, so that was welcome. Kristofferson threw really great body blows and had some nice old Arn Anderson type moves, like short knee lifts or stomping the mat while pressing Mojo's face to his knee. He was also real good about absorbing Mojo's stuff, and Mojo hit a killer flying shoulder tackle, really smacked into him. This was fine.

3. The Vaudevillains vs. Angelo Dawkins & Travis Tyler

This is the debut of the Vaudevillains and I love how absolutely giddy Regal is about guys essentially working carny strongmen gimmicks. Fans are flipping out too, and really it is a wonderful gimmick for these two. English is super talented so it will be great to see him actually winning matches. Gotch is a guy who I've actually seen from the very beginning, as I was there live over a decade ago for his very first pro wrestling matches as Psycho Seth in APW. He was terrible. He clearly didn't get it. Outside of a bad "psycho" gimmick (which only involved wearing Hot Topic jeans with an anarchy symbol on the leg while grinning "evilly"), there was an impression that he just didn't get pro wrestling on a deeper level. In maybe his first match he busted his lip open, and there was a little blood, and a couple people were showing some concern. And then he went on the APW message board and let everybody know he was okay, he had just bit his lip. Before that people had been wondering if he had taken a couple of stiff shots, gotten busted open hardway, but no. No he had to let people know it was just an accident. The only other post in the thread was somebody saying "Dude. Kayfabe." He jumped to Modest and Morgan's promotion PWI a year or two later as Ryan Drago, and still seemed like a guy who just didn't get it. Once PWI shuttered I completely lost track of him, and was absolutely shocked when I looked up who Simon Gotch was. I cannot believe he kept working for the next decade, plugging away, getting seen, and ended up in WWE. No matter what I thought/think of him as a wrestler, that's dedication and I have nothing but huge respect for that. This match is clearly a showcase for the Villains, I'm not even sure Dawkins gets tagged in. English looked really great, got crazy height on a legdrop, finished with a nice senton, and I love some of their double teams like the uppercut to back of the head into a quick snap Aiden neckbreaker. Excited to see them develop, although I wish we got more Aiden singles stuff, hopefully the team still allows for that.

4. Kalisto vs. Tyler Breeze

Wonderful little match that felt like a tight short match, and then you realize it got 11 minutes. Both men were so good at their roles and it was paced so well that an 11 minute match turned into a 5 minute WorldWide classic. Kalisto gets matched up a lot with big guys, but Breeze grounded him better than any of them, and most importantly knew how to take Kalisto's offense the best I've seen. Breeze does some fantastic detail work, and there are two specific spots I want to highlight: Kalisto's kip up rana and Kalisto's handstand headscissors. Breeze made these spots look unexpected, stealth and effective, when especially in the case of a man standing on his hands before clamping a headscissors, is an impressive accomplishment. A handstand headscissors is something that requires boatloads of cooperation, and often looks very cooperative. Breeze was able to distract himself, look off balance enough, that the look of surprise when he walked into the headscissors was perfect. Later as Kalisto is on the mat, about to do the kip up rana, Breeze makes his way towards him and makes sure to throw a darting glance over at the crowd, so that his head is turning back towards Kalisto as he's throwing the rana. It made Breeze look totally unprepared and surprised by the move, even though it was clearly the spot, and those kind of details make a match click on such a higher level. And the rest of this is really good too, as Breeze grounds Kalisto with headlocks, and Breeze is a guy I've noted as being good at headlock work in a match. He was good at trying to smother Kalisto and Regal was good at noting that, even pointing out different names for the different kinds of headlock leverage he was locking in. Kalisto had some cool locking stuff, loved his fast tornillo quebrada. And some of his feints when evading Breeze were cool, like a silly little quick handstand vault off the top rope to sidestep him. Ending is killer as Breeze whips Kalisto into the ropes, Kalisto holds on, Breeze stutter steps as he notices Kalisto held on, and when Kalisto tries a quick springboard move Breeze blasts him with the beauty shot. I was way into this match, Breeze is really busting butt these last couple months.

5. Tyson Kidd & Sami Zayn vs. The Ascension

It's a shame this match was actually just an angle/Tyson Kidd heel turn because the match we got was really damn good, maybe Zayn's best performance in a match this year (which covers some nice ground) and definitely the best overall Ascension performance. And no, that's not meant in a backhanded way, I really liked both Ascension in this and Viktor especially looked great. The story goes, that Kidd and Zayn are teaming up because they've both had rough luck lately, so they got their little slumpbuster team, recognizing that the singles belts aren't working for them so maybe combine forces! It makes sense and it's a fine kayfabe reason for two guys to team up for the first time. But the way they have Kidd turn is stupid, as Zayn is taking quite a beating from Ascension, and Kidd gets jealous of Zayn's ring time, actually saying something dumb like "oh, so you want to take all of the match?" and then walking away when Zayn would have been able to tag. Before the angle kicked in we had a nasty fight between Zayn and Viktor, with Zayn hitting his stuff better than ever (his crossbody off the top was perfect) and Viktor working fast and vicious, throwing great strikes, planting Zayn with a back suplex when Zayn tries to tag. Konnor would come in with nice stomps and man now I'm really upset that it wasn't built up as a proper tag match. The first 5 minutes of this are so good! They easily could have had a full match, had Kidd and Zayn lose, and then Kidd flip out afterwards. Instead Kidd comes off lame, jealous of Zayn for taking too long of a beating. Have him turn on Zayn as he blames him for the loss, not because he was jealous that he wasn't in there hitting flippy moves. Zayn is distracted, Konnor hits an avalanche, Fall of Man is delivered and taken brutally, but man now I just wanted the actual match. What could have been.

Good show this week, and next week we get RVD!! Nobody wanted that. I had completely blocked his 2014 return from memory.


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Sunday, June 19, 2016

WWE Money in the Bank 2016 Live Blog

So to start the live blog, I'd like to address an extremely embarrassing and unfortunate coincidence. A few days ago I needed something to post for that day (still somehow keeping up with our post-per-day minimum almost two and a half years later) but I was at work that day and leaving directly from work to go to a concert in Oakland (John Carpenter LIVE!!! My god), so wasn't going to be able to write anything new. So I scoured my drafts for something and found several Jerry Lawler reviews that I had written 3+ years ago. I read them through, they seemed quality, so I posted a couple. The next day - to my horror - I went on PWO for the first time in a couple days and immediately saw a thread about Jerry Lawler being suspended indefinitely under accusations of domestic violence, news that would have been broken BEFORE I posted those reviews. Yeesh. So I just want to make it clear that I WAS NOT taking any sort of stance, no silent support for Lawler, nothing weird. I was just "lucky" enough to post something about him the same day as the news came out. I could have posted those damn reviews any day over the last three years, but I just happened to need content on the day THAT news breaks. Good grief. So, if for some reason anybody out there was icked out by my poorly timed Lawler post - and to be clear not one person to my knowledge has accused me of doing anything untoward - but if for some reason there is a reader out there who thought I was being gross, please know that it was just an unfortunate coincidence.

ER: I just received a text alert from WWE stating "The greatest Money in the Bank event in history starts NOW!" WOW!! The greatest PPV on the greatest night in the history of our great sport!?!? How can I afford to NOT watch and write about this!?

1. The Golden Truth vs. Breezango

ER: Breezango are working an extreme sunburning gimmick, playing up that they got roasted earlier while tanning their bods. This leads to Goldust amusingly working a chop heavy style while Breeze and Fandango scream. Goldust throws some amazing chops all throughout so it works, and for speaking for all the people who have ever lobstered themselves, you get it. The match wasn't much beyond that sadly. Goldust got to be the hot tag, which is nice since he's easily the best hot tag in the fed, but I wish I could just see an actual 8+ minute match between these teams.

2. Lucha Dragons vs. Dudley Boyz

ER: "Game of Thrones isn't the only show with flying dragons!" Ugh, Mauro's had that line in the can for weeks I assume. There are also ads on the bottom of the screen FOR the Money in the Bank PPV. How many people who subscribe to the Network, who happen to be watching the network LIVE at 4:47 PM on a Sunday, wouldn't know they are about to see Money in the Bank? There was a production person in the back who was paid to put these graphics up on the bottom of the screen. The only way they could be watching this match was if they clicked the large "Watch WWE Money in the Bank LIVE NOW" button on the homepage. These teams don't seem to gel very well, and the Dragons seem to be holding back on their flying offense. Everything is landing super soft. Bubba is still good but has lost a step, but he's doing a good job of trying to make up for any ability loss with an increase in shit talking. It works. But yeah the match as a whole really doesn't. The heat segments aren't compelling, the comebacks are light. There were a couple decent individual moments, but this was a throwaway pre-show match for certain.

3. Enzo & Cass vs. The Vaudevillains vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson vs. The New Day

ER: Love the new waistcoat/vest/pocket watch entrance gear on the Villains. Entrances take a full 9 minutes for everybody so I magically leap forward in time. Anderson and Gallows have to wait almost that long as Enzo and Kofi set up dual crossbodies off the top. There's an annoying segment where Kofi and Enzo do a tug of war, each trying to tag out to their partners. So just a long segment of two guys just not fighting each other, while holding hands. Neat. Things "break down" just 4 minutes in, despite next to nothing happening. Kofi is really sandbagging the Villains. Anderson seems to be the only one who understands that it's a one pinfall finish, as he tries to tag guys whenever they get close. Kofi and English were fighting right next to Enzo and Cass and they just stood there thumbing their butts. Can't win the match from the apron, doodz. Cass and Enzo go on a run and Gallows looks late on a save, plus the ref did a bad double clutch count. Looked bad. They wisely have English take most of the finishers, as that guy is really good at taking offense. The last two minutes of this got good as WWE multiman structure is usually good at handling those big finisher trading runs, but this really wasn't that good for the time allotted.

ER: I really liked Owens during the MITB promo, even though they were just going for yuks instead of actually building to much of a match. "Perro means dog? You know Spanish now?" "No, I just learned that word because [Alberto Del Rio] always calls people that."

4. Baron Corbin vs. Dolph Ziggler

ER: When did the "super wet hair" scourge start sweeping through WWE? When did that start being a thing? Was it HHH? Is he the Wet Hair Mary? Did he start demanding everybody with hair just dunk their heads under a sink pre-match? Even Flair has been horribly sporting this look for years now, which only adds to his incredible melting man look. Let's all get together and try to pinpoint this wet hair outbreak. Corbin's work looks really good in this. I like his measured straight rights, even if the crowd is chanting boring at him. Did I miss something with Ziggler? Why is he wearing what appears to be an actual HBK outfit from 1996? That's weird, right? I get guys wearing their influences on their sleeves, but just dressing exactly the same? How is that even allowed? Ziggler takes a hot shot really great, really looked like his neck snapped across that rope. Also really like Corbin being a step ahead and countering all of Ziggler's offense, tossing him off from the famouser, blocking the follow up superkick. Oh god Ziggler is even stomping to set up sweet chin music? What the fuck did I miss? What a fucking dork. Corbin plants him with a nasty spinning back suplex, really twisting him right into the ground. I'm really starting to love all of Corbin's running punches, and I liked the superkick reversal off Corbin's finisher. I think Corbin might be quite good, but it's tough to tell since I've only ever seen him against Ziggler and even though I ended up liking this match, it's a match-up I'm already tired of.

5. Charlotte & Dana Brooke vs. Becky Lynch & Natalya

ER: I really liked Charlotte's knees/cravate combo on Natalya, but there is really not much to care about in this match. Becky's hot tag offense doesn't look that good. After seeing her a few times I still can't get any sort of read on Brooke. She seems good at doing lackey type stuff, bitchily making saves for Charlotte, but nothing has stood out about her wrestling ability. Lynch doesn't do a lot for me either. Brooke does make me laugh postmatch by yelling "I'm the greatest protege ever!!" That's awesome. Oh and hey Nattie turned on Lynch, meaning there Lynch the only babyface in the division? Paige is a face, right? I think? Nattie's forearm to the back of Lynch's head was probably the best looking thing in the match. This was a bunch of nothing.

6. Sheamus vs. Apollo Crews

ER: Crews doesn't do a lot for me but Sheamus is good enough to get something out of him, and they oddly seem like a good match for each other. I really really dug all the violent opening headlock takeovers, they all looked so good. Crews throws a nice tight elbow that knocks Sheamus to the floor and Sheamus snags him off the apron and hits a backbreaker. And I am into this. Sheamus knows how to work a compelling headlock as he keeps shifting his weight and position to build for Crews' comeback. Sheamus is really good bumping all around for Crews' lariats, and then takes a wild bump to the floor off a belly to belly. Holy cow then Crews hits an awesome moonsault off the apron to the floor, that really couldn't have hit any better than it did. Man I am into this match. Crowd appears to not give any one of their fucks about it, but they're busting ass in there. It's really quiet though. Can't blame them though as Sheamus really has been an afterthought for some time. Which is too bad, as Sheamus is awesome. OOF, lame as hell finish with Crews just getting a roll up while Sheamus argued pinfalls. Man that is a lame finish. Shame as I was into the whole thing, up until that.

7. AJ Styles vs. John Cena

ER: Cole on commentary also calls this "The greatest Money in the Bank event in history!" What is the actual justification for using this exact phrasing. It's a weird thing to say about a show before it happens, and then again before it's over. Is there a kayfabe reason? Like are they acting like the matches on this card are the biggest ever when compared to past MITB? Or is it just hyperbolic horseshit? Cena looks smaller, which is good. He was looking freakish for awhile there. And this is really good so far. I loved Styles punching him when Cena waved his palm, and Cena selling that punch was great. On the floor AJ gets tossed into the steps but ably leaps over them and then casually rolls back into the ring and man Styles is playing this up so great. Styles pacing in this match is perfect, and then AJ gets launched by a backdrop. But the structure kinda falls apart after that backdrop. And then Styles hits a plancha where...I didn't really know what was supposed to hit whom. It looked like AJ changed his momentum to purposely not hit Cena, but then Cena sold it. Styles does crash and burn spectacularly on a missed dive afterwards though. Boy the pace I enjoyed so much at the start of the match sure has turned quite methodical. Cena is working like he's hurt, not in selling injuries, but just in a way that feels like he's not fully healthy. We have hit the part of the match where finishers are hit followed by lots of lying around. Styles catches knees on a 450, which is probably because he waited 90 seconds to hit it after Cena kicked out of the Styles Clash. And more lying around. I'm all for selling, but they're not laying this thing out in a very interesting way.  A ref bump was not something I was personally hoping for, either. Club interferes, puts AJ on top for the win. At least AJ won? I'm sure they will have several matches so I understand not doing a good finish in the first match, but the final 5-7 minutes of this were just really boring to me. It felt like they were going for drama that they hadn't earned. The long lying around selling followed by getting up and running around felt like the worst terceras of the worst CMLL main events. Both of these guys are good, and I'm sure they have a real good match in them. This started out like that match, but it wasn't that match by the end.

8. Money in the Bank Match: Chris Jericho vs. Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn vs. Alberto Del Rio vs. Kevin Owens vs. Dean Ambrose

ER: Jericho is doing some of the more interesting character stuff than at any time over the last several years, but his ringwork has gotten so lousy, and he hasn't adapted his style in the least, that it makes me just hope he decides to stop wrestling. He just looks so slow and bad in there. There are some big moves to start, but also notice that everybody taking the big moves is REALLY bad at occupying themselves while waiting to take a move. Jericho just stands there holding a ladder forever while waiting for Cesaro to hit his senton off the apron, 4 guys just stand at ringside patiently waiting for Zayn to hit a flip dive, they just aren't even pretending they're doing anything other than waiting to get hit. Cesaro hits running uppercuts on everybody and Sami Zayn has been gone for like 5 minutes. Owens too. Ah, now Owens comes in a hits cannonballs on everybody, and then Cesaro takes a nasty running face first bump into a ladder set up in the corner.  I'm not sure what possibly kept Zayn hurt for so many minutes, because when he reappears he is a house of fire. But pretty soon we're back to 4 guys disappeared and selling injuries off camera. Man you expect that kind of stuff in these but it seems really bad here. But holy cow Cesaro jumping from the ladder into a springboard uppercut looked amazing. We do get plenty of big moves into ladders, but the layout with guys just waiting around doing nothing until it's their turn to do a stunt is just out of control. I get it, shit hurts. But the way they're playing it you can literally predict who's turn it is to come in and take their turn to do something painful.  I've only missed one of my guesses so far. We take a preposterously long time to set up all 6 guys fighting while standing on ladders. ADR takes a flat out lunatic bump off a falling ladder, trying to land feet first on the top and basically doing a split legged moonsault to himself. We get many minutes of guys failing to climb well, until Ambrose climbs better than them to win! Well, this stunk.

9. Rusev vs. Titus O'neil

ER: Lana's faces while standing behind Rusev are the best. And Rusev and Titus smack into each other really hard to start, and Rusev gets tossed into the barricade. Before long Rusev is smothering him in the ring while trash talking Titus's kids. Rusev throws a lot of really good knees. Rusev's high kick and superkick both look great, Titus looks like he's scared of tearing a lat most times he does a move. And WOW Rusev won clean in the middle on Father's Day in front of Titus's kids!! Holy cow, they brought in his kids to watch their dad lose!! That's vicious shit right there. Happy Fathers Day!!! Rusev couldn't have looked much stronger in victory. He mostly steamrolled Titus here. Back down the card you go, O'Neill. Shouldn't have touched Vince that one time.

10. Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns

ER: According to chants, Roman apparently can't wrestle. Which not coincidentally sounds like the feeble screams of hundreds of micropenises. This was worked a little slower than I was hoping for, and I'm still confused who is supposed to be booed and who isn't. Rollins has some pretty light offense here, but there are some nice sequences. Loved Reigns backdropping Rollins, Rollins landing on his feet, but then getting blasted by a Superman punch. Rollins countering a spear with a kneelift was nice too. Rollins is really working as gutsy babyface returning from a knee injury, and the whole announce crew is selling it as such. Except for Byron Saxton, who I swear is just most useless fucking body. The whole PPV all he did was occasionally loudly say somebody's name when it was quiet. It would go quiet and then in an over-annunciated speech you would just hear. "ROMAN...REIGNS." Saxton is such a fucking zero. Those spots where they fight endlessly on the turnbuckles really don't look good. I'm honestly pretty bored during this one. It just feels way too long. Certain sequences feel repeated. Some stuff is looking really impressive, like Reigns brutal missed spear into the rail. The brawling has looked pretty sloppy. The fighting on the knees spot was pretty flimsy, especially after watching Black Terry do an expert version of the same moment earlier in the day. They went out and tried to have an epic war, and there was a lot that worked. I think they should have consolidated things a bit, maybe trimmed like 25% of the match, got to some things quicker. But I do actually like how they handled the ending, as I definitely didn't expect Roman to lose. It seems like such an anti-WWE move to give a guy like Rollins the title after being laid up for 7 months. The Money in the Bank stip does nothing at all for me, but I like that Ambrose immediately cashed it in, as then I won't have to see any stupid months and months of suitcase teases, and a guy dorkily carrying around said suitcase. And it makes the main event scene more interesting than it otherwise would have been with a Reigns win. Maybe I'll have second thoughts after thinking about it for a bit, but this seems like a neat way to freshen things up a bit. And maybe Ambrose will start looking better now that he's away from Jericho, and into actual important programs.

ER: So, I didn't like the PPV. A lot of it was boring. The two big singles matches fell flat with me, and the ladder match was a bunch of guys killing themselves in a stupidly laid out bad spotfest. And the undercard matches weren't really put in a position to succeed. There were individuals I liked, but nothing at all that I really liked. BUT, I'm oddly optimistic about things going forward, as even though I didn't care for the overall matches I'm excited for a Styles/Cena rematch, excited for the various Shield clashes, excited to see different stuff from Corbin and Rusev, so it's an odd feeling to not really enjoy much of what I just watched, while being interested in what's to come. So I guess I couldn't call it a failure.

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Saturday, June 18, 2016

Big Time Wrestling TV 6/17/16

1. Beatrice Domino vs. Lisa Lace (12/4/15)

Love Domino wearing a "Black Friday" shirt. Her gimmick is tough to pull off, as being a black crusader is a noble thing, but she acts like a heel, meaning it comes off like people are booing black lives matter, which is sticky. But this was a decent enough match, though the crack announce team was muddying the waters over who was the heel and who was the face, making things come off flat. Domino is kind of a complicated character to call anyway, and they always flop by having one of the commentators call her like comedy, which is just really annoying. But Lisa Lace was billed as being from another promotion, so part of the time they were treating her like an outsider, other times they were treating her like an underdog. They can be real bad. Lace is still inexperienced but working a lot, and her stiff disjointed nature kinda adds to matches. She has a good intensity and brings a little something extra than some other girls. Domino has some cool stuff, I liked her blocking a Lace roll up by stomping on her chest, and I'd really like to see more from both.

2. Zach Muir & Pitbull Wellman vs. Andre LeVeaux & Chico Navarro (5/13/16)

This is LeVeaux's first match, and kind of a tough call teaming him with Navarro, who has worked for years and often comes off untrained. Muir has an amusing heel gimmick as a zen master, so he has a bunch of fun holier than though ways to get out of moves, like an ultra cocky yoga teacher who specializes in hands-on guiding women students into tough poses. LeVeaux seemed fine, and Navarro looked better than normal at points, but I also don't think I've seen any wrestler throw worse stomps than Chico. They are impossibly embarrassing. Pitbull didn't do a whole lot and it was up to Muir to hold this short match together and he gamely tried, even taking a headscissors from a female valet. Short, not that good, but mostly inoffensive. They should really pick a different guy to feature every week than Chico Navarro, though, especially if they want to constantly talk about how they have the #1 training academy in the country.

3. Will Cuevas vs. Will Roberts (12/4/15)

Seeing guys like Navarro really makes you appreciate the polish that somebody like Will Cuevas brings to Bay Area wrestling. He feels like a guy who can get gigs around the country, has a good look and a nice moveset. Roberts is pretty new but looks good, although they looked best here when they weren't doing obviously planned sequences. All of the reversal stuff looked overly rehearsed and it was better when they kept things simple. Cuevas at one point hits a neat knee to the face, but it hardly gets sold by Roberts because it came in the middle of a planned reversal sequence. I hate that kind of stuff. But Cuevas hits simple things well, like nice forearms, a real good vertical suplex, nie headlocks, nice basics. But that temptation to do more complicated stuff is always there...

Kind of a nothing show this week with three short matches. Three 6 minute matches isn't very satisfying as nobody in the fed has the skills to work a real expert 6 minute WorldWide match, so you're just kind of left with short unsatisfying work. Plus Hank Ranner Jr. is just really bad. His announce schtick appears to be a guy in his 30s working as if he were a 65 year old sports pro. The pork pie hat, plaid sports coats and faux exasperation just scream hack.

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Friday, June 17, 2016

Each Time it Gets a Little Harder, Lawler Feels the Pain, and He'll Try Again

Jerry Lawler vs. Romeo Roselli, NEW 6/1/06 - SKIPPABLE

ER: Boy, this match. You know Roselli from his failed WWE run, where he was the HeartThrob who didn't get a giant goose egg on his forehead from Regal. Roselli was the other one. Neither were very good. This isn't too long after his release, and to the shock of many, he still is not good. Lawler and Roselli riff for seemingly ever on the mic pre-match, Lawler getting called a has-been in a variety of ways, Roselli flexing, Roselli's valet rubs his muscles and then hilariously wipes her now overly oiled hand off on the apron was incredible. That spot was clearly not planned, and to their credit I would have laughed if the spot was actually planned. But the valet did not have the acting chops to pull off the genuinely disgusted face she made while wiping off her oily hand. Match gets underway and I have seen the Lawler formula work on a variety of bad opponents. If Lawler is Lawler, it has to work, right? Well, Lawler worked about as well as Lawler normally works, but Roselli was such an absolute void of anything entertaining that the formula just had nothing to bounce off. They worked some amusing spots (Lawler going to punch Roselli in the face, Roselli begging not in the face, so Lawler punches his body) but mainly a lot of Roselli chinlockery, botched interference from Roselli's valet, a spot where Lawler has to threaten to punch the valet but ends up kissing her that went WAY too long because Roselli was way late with the save, all the match build focusing on the Lawler Stunner spot which sadly popped the crowd bigger than anything else. In maybe the worst spot of any Lawler match I've ever seen, he actually got on the mic to pop the crowd by saying he was going to hit a Stone Cold Stunner. I wept. This just didn't add up to anything good, and it took a long time to get there. Roselli had a nice elbow drop (I was taught to end on a positive note).

Jerry Lawler vs. Romeo Roselli, NEW 10/14/06 - SKIPPABLE

ER: Hey, remember the previous match these two had? Same fed, 4 months before, written about directly above this match? Well here they are with almost the exact same, identical match. They did almost all the same spots, in almost the exact same order. For whatever reason, this one was better. Roselli didn't dick around as much and the match felt tighter for that reason, the (new) valet was better and knew her spots better, Lawler didn't get on the mic announcing he was gonna hit a Stone Cold Stunner, etc. So things were better. They weren't great though.


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Thursday, June 16, 2016

2016 Ongoing MOTY List: Casas v. Hechicero

1. Negro Casas v. Rey Hechicero Monterrey 4/24

PAS: This year I have watched a bunch of really fun on paper lucha matches that have been slightly disappointing, this however totally lived up to it's promise. The matwork opening up this match was sublime, Casas doesn't do a ton of matwork normally, but man is his stuff beautiful here, finding sensible awesome looking counters to all of the flashy stuff Hechicero was pulling off. I loved that rolling cradle hamstring stretch Hechicero pulled off, and adored how Casas's hamstring tightened up in the third fall costing him the match. This was a really great match, and they left some stuff on the table for a possible rematch. This is that lucha libre I love.

ER: This whole match was just lucha heaven for me. Wrestling heaven? Possibly. This is arguably my favorite mat stuff of the year, and I say that as someone who is fully in love with all of the things Gulak and Yehi and others are doing. This had the beautiful grace of the best lucha matwork, combined with some genuinely painful looking stuff, with all sorts of twists and sequences so neat that they could only be done by masters. They throw out plenty of neat counters, but never get cute, it always feels like two guys trying to slowly wreck joints. At one point Hechicero is working for a bow and arrow and Casas breaks free and kind of lifts out of Hechicero's clutches like Nosferatu rising from his crypt and all in one motion he spins while never letting go of Hechicero's ankle, and suddenly he's got a wrenching ankle sub. Both men were joined together throughout almost all of this matwork, like they were a one line drawing, with them moving in these weird rolling patterns. It was hypnotic. I could have watched for hours. Negro locked in one of the stiffer sharpshooters I've seen, locking in those legs and every time Hechicero would lunge for the ropes it would send Casas stumbling and bending Rey's back even more. Also loved Negro just slowwwwwly yanking Hechicero's arms behind his back, and the camera was just right in Rey's face with Casas over his shoulder just slowwwwwly pulling back, like he was waiting to get right to the point of shoulder dislocation. The tercera was when they got on their feet, and then they wowed me in entirely different ways. Hechicero does some of his great strength spots, doing the one arm lift with the fun wrinkle of Casas trying to roll through it (something we just saw in Hechicero vs. Cerebro) and here Hechicero somehow blocks Casas' momentum before flinging him up and over. At one point they fight on the apron and man, I don't know if I've seen better apron fighting. It reminded me of Dundee/Koko in their scaffold match of two guys finding cool ways to work on a slender surface. This was just a tight, extremely well executed match. The spots were gorgeous, but they weren't just getting up and moving to the next spot. They found perfect ways to tie things together, kept up the basics (Casas blasts him with elbows, Hechicero throws some nasty flat footed kicks to Casas' forehead), there's neat memory stuff like Casas screaming to the crowd for a clothesline only to turn around as Hechicero is kicking his clothesline arm, it's just jammed full of the best of lucha. Great match.


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All Japan Motherload...Resurrected? Giant Baba vs. Killer Karl Kox - AJPW 3/3/81, plus Bonus Baba!

[UPDATE] Months later the match showed up again online, but it will probably disappear at some point again. So anybody that didn't get to see Baba/Kox should go watch it, now.

ER: This match is so fucking awesome. And it's all gone. Our mysterious Japanese benefactor SKK and his glorious youtube page are all vanished and destroyed, and this match was the last thing I had written up from his stash. Looks at that blank youtube screen I'm leaving embedded on the page, itself an armband around our hearts. Perhaps some day he will be back. Perhaps some other dedicated loon will take over for him before the inevitable. Here's to this guy, and the next guy.

Because this match is so fucking awesome. It's also weird because it was the second to last match of Kox's career (he had a match in the states against Andre a year and a half later, which is also something I would pay money for the chance to see). So his final match in Japan is for Baba's PWF title at the age of 50. And it's really, truly great. Kox gets busted open from BABA CHOPS! And fires back with mean right hands and pointy back elbows, and his elbow drops actually look like they are going to crush Baba's giant ribcage. Kox really just plants them deeply, right into Baba's sternum. Kox looks like a million crusty old deans going up against a million lame fraternities, except this guy would destroy all Greek campus life. By the time it got to Kox giving Baba a brutal hardway brainbuster I was flipping out. This is flat out pro wrestling. Kox just picks up and drops Baba right on his giant head. Then Kox starts punching Baba with a loaded fist and playing hide the weapon, and sister you haven't lived until you've watched an old white man play hide the weapon, in Japan, against Baba. The falls go quick, Baba gets his same-size-as-Baba trophies presented after the match, Kox glowers, this is the best.

Giant Baba vs. Abdullah the Butcher - AJPW 4/7/79 - BONUS HAIKU

Two oddly shaped men
Baba chops to face break skin
Abby don't back down

Who are these two men
Abby blades his fucking ear
All from Baba chops

All great things must end
Fat guys have great elbow drops
Clearly a count out

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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

2016 Ongoing MOTY List: Terry v. Aero Boy Mascara contra Cabellera

5. Black Terry v. Aero Boy Tulacingo Lucha 6/10

PAS: This is a apuestas match the way it should be, seedy dirty gym, both guys bleeding and getting dirt in open cuts, nothing slickly produced or fancy, just a nasty bit of business. Terry is still a great brawler, Aeroboy jumps him in the aisle but Terry takes over and posts him and cracks him with a chair shot. He rips the mask and digs a piece of broken plastic chair into Aero Boy's head Abby style. Aero boy takes over when Terry dives off the ring apron right into a thrown chair, which is a crazy pants spot for an old ass man to take. Terry gets busted open as well, and we get some great visuals of Terry as a broken bloody old man fighting for his life. Finish run was a bit sloppy, with Terry kind of blowing a code red, but it had some great moments too. Aero Boy was game, but a great example of how Terry can still bring it.

ER: Wow this was good. I guess I shouldn't be too shocked because Black Terry, but wow this was good. Terry comes bursting out to Judas Priest and starts lacing right into Aero Boy, stiffing the hell out of his and beating on him with an unforgiving metal charir. It's a dim scummy little room and there's no place I would rather be seeing this match right now. Aero Boy hits a crazy tope that sends both me sprawling into stackable plastic chairs, and also into a 4 year old boy who starts crying out of fear and confusion. And then the camera weirdly reveals how deep the room is, as bodies start appearing out of the darkness and suddenly it looks like David Lynch filming scenes for Fight Club. Terry is such a savage in this, lacing into Aero Boy with stiff kicks and chops, ripping his mask, dropping one of the best elbows you've ever seen, stabbing him with busted plastic. Aero Boy is effective at everything he needs to be effective at. His screams the first time Terry stabbed him were legitimately chilling. The way the room looked combined with the gritty camera (BTJr. even filmed the stabbing with the camera on its side, as if the camera was a passed out voyeur witnessing the terror), and the sound of Aero Boy's screams made Terry look like an absolute sadistic monster, and made for great moments whenever Aero Boy would stage a comeback. Terry leaping off the apron into a thrown chair from Aero was just absolutely crazy, looks like a good way to tear all sorts of muscles in your body and throw everything out of alignment, and here is old man Black motherfucking Terry just taking that wild leap. BT bleeds and just makes me miss blood in lucha matches. Aero Boy kicks him in the face in the corner and Terry has no problem making the kid look good, and in the end Terry returns that scream as Aero boy locks in an armbar. I really loved this from the first second of the match, the whole vibe of the thing immediately made me think "who could not 'get' lucha!?" This feels like something that believers and non-believers alike would love, something that would rate high on any of the 80s sets. So, so good.



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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

NXT 226 6/12/14 Review

1. The BFFs vs. Bayley, Emma & Paige

I liked the BFFs here, but this got a lot of time relative to what got accomplished. Sasha and Charlotte worked over Emma for most of the 9 minutes, Summer mugged with fans, there was dissension, etc. Sasha is good at this type of stuff, letting Charlotte do the grunt work for the team while she sneaks in to choke Emma with her boot and land other cheap shots, as well as show off her strong apron shit talk game. Emma was a decent FIP, but there really wasn't enough of a comeback or any real hot tag teases, just an eventual tag in to Bayley. It's weird to do a 9 minute match with six people, and have two people never get in the match, so really this was just a longish match to further a Summer Rae angle.

2. Colin Cassady vs. Sylvester Lefort

I have a bad habit of liking a lot of the NXT guys who are clearly being positioned as cannon fodder. It always leaves me in the position of griping about my favorite guys not getting enough match time. The announce crew drops the "deceptively big" line about Cass. "You just don't realize how big he is." That kind of thing never in history had to be said about a large person who actually understands wrestling. You're really big. Act big. If announcers have to remind people that you're physically large, it means you are royally fucking up. Holy shit as I was typing that they said it again. He is 7 feet tall! Lefort is maaaaaybe 5'8". If people are not realizing that Cassady is THAT much fucking bigger than his opponent, it means he is really really bad. "He's the same size as Patrick Ewing!" THEY ACTUALLY SAID THAT! Holy shit I am dying. Did you ever see Patrick Ewing play and somehow not realize that he was a really large, sweaty dude? Cassady is literally on his knees fighting back against Lefort, desperately swinging away while Lefort clubs him, punching at Lefort's stomach and fighting back as if he was modeling himself after Kalisto comebacks. I die laughing during Cass matches. I cannot stop. He's so bad! Oh my god right after he won one of the announcers literally just said "7 feet tall!" I can't fucking even. It's amazing.

3. Sami Zayn vs. Mr. NXT

The video of Bo Dallas leaving after his Loser Leaves NXT match is one of my absolute favorite NXT moments. "I'm calling the cops, for reals...........okay the cops aren't actually coming. But I'm going to call campus security." Match was short and obviously built to Bo getting unmasked and then yakuza kicked while covering up his face. He was really funny playing up his new identity, joyfully yelling "I'm not Bo Dallas!!" throughout the match, not as a response to an accusation, but as a triumphant declaration. He then hilariously evades 4 security guards postmatch, running around and juking them. It's amazing how much I love NXT Bo. The way WWE threw him onto TV gave him zero chance. They took away 80% of his character and all nuance, and left him with a catchphrase which only worked because of the 80% they took away. But man he's good on NXT. "Okay. Just let me go quietly." as he then breaks free from the guards and starts running again. So good.

4. Adrian Neville vs. Tyson Kidd

"A marquee match anywhere in the world!" I mean, it's a match that should be good, and I've really enjoyed Kidd's NXT run so far, but that may be one of the most hilariously overused phrases in pro wrestling. It's arguably not even a marquee match within the context that it's happening. But it's also not even close to silliest match that statement has been made about. And this was a well executed, technically good match, that got completely bogged down by the story they were jamming down our throats. Kidd is frustrated, this is the biggest match of his career (for reasons) and he needs this win or else he'll be the biggest loser in the history of competitive sports. Got it. Except the announcers wanted to make sure we got it, so it's all they talked about all match, and the Kidd loss seemed inevitable from before the bell even rang. What's surprising is that Kidd controlled the entire match, and looked good doing so. This made the finish come off even more lame as Kidd dominated the match but at some point got frustrated that Neville still hadn't given up, so Kidd grabbed a chair and Nattie was like "TJ ermigersh NO! Not like this!!" And TJ was like "But I've tried like THREE OTHER THINGS and he kicked out!!!!" and then Neville hits a superkick which is now apparently tantamount to death, and then hit a (really great) Red Arrow and we are done. Kidd looked good all throughout this, working real stiff, controlling Neville nicely, and Neville was a good FIP, but the whole story was so heavy handed and obvious, and the inevitability of the ending made it tough to give a damn about the match proper.


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Monday, June 13, 2016

2016 Ongoing MOTY List: Cerebro v. Hechicero

Dr. Cerebro v. Rey Hechicero Primavera Caliente 4/9

ER: This is one of those awesome kind of finds that you have to know have been happening for years all throughout Mexico, it's just that now we have the technology where some guy standing in the crowd can tape 14 minutes of awesome wrestling that otherwise wouldn't have been seen. And this is really good, so thank you unknown friend from down south. Both guys here just go go go, working quick on the mat and then doing standing exchanges that look sped up at some points. Cerebro is as good as ever and Hechicero just excels at these kind of unica caida indy matches in front of 40 people. I loved the thread of legwork worming its way through the match, and I love how (well, except for the sudden and kinda garbage finish) neither guy let the other get away with anything on the mat. If Hechicero was taking too long setting up something complicated? He'd be getting kicked. Every roll-up or submission attempt was setting up the aggressor for a possible reversal, and we get all sorts of that with sunset flips turned into ankle locks and school boys that end up with a caught arm, everything lead to something and the fluidity was really fun. These guys are arguably even more fun on their feet and both have some fun show off moments. Hechicero does his Backlund lift and parades Cerebro around, allowing Cerebro to roll through into an armbar. Later on Cerebro hits a sweet springboard dropkick and follows up with a killer crazy tope. I love how these guys match up. Sadly, the finish was the only thing I disliked as Hechicero goes to set up a kind of Nieblina pin, crossing Cerebro's arms and hooking his legs. But it kind of went against everything the match had established where a guy lingering too long on a sub would pay for it. Cerebro even easily kicked off Hechicero when he earlier attempted this same move, here he just kind of lies there and even offers up his legs when Hechicero can't reach them. Still, overall the match slayed.

PAS: I loved almost all of this. The matwork had all of the skill and beauty of the best Navarro and Solar stuff, but with athletes in their prime. I also loved how Hechicero would use his power, he would counter Cerebro with these huge throws where he would just muscle Cerebro up and hurl him through the air. He felt almost like a lucha Cesaro or Scott Steiner. Cerebro was great too, he is sort of a power wrestler normally too, but he was outsized here, so he used his speed and elusiveness, hitting cool headscissors and a great tope. I was going to make a #1 argument for this up until the finish, what a bummer, it looked blown and awkward and didn't fit with the finish at all. I am not sure who messed up, but it was really badly executed in a match where the execution was otherwise perfect. Cut the video at 13:06 and pretend WCW Worldwide went off the air.


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Sunday, June 12, 2016

Indie Fat Guy Investigation: Kevin Lee Davidson

Many many months ago on ROH TV there was a pointless squash match with Michael Elgin going over a massive man named Kevin Lee Davidson after just one clothesline. Those kind of squash matches serve no purpose in today's wrestling. Not one person in the crowd was going "Well hey now did you see THAT!? Elgin beat that incredibly large man with just ONE clothesline! Elgin must have super arms of strengthened steel! I like Michael Elgin much more now, because of what I just witnessed and I want to know the answer to whether or not he has steel arms!" The purpose was to make Elgin look unfuckwithable, but really all it did was make me upset that I didn't get some sort of actual match. It made me especially upset, as I wanted to see more of this mystery giant fat guy. Giant fat guys are probably my favorite wrestlers. And here was a new giant fat guy! So really what ROH's incompetence accomplished, is it made me a) roll my eyes at their "plan", and b) go on an internet search for mystery giant fat guy.

1. Kevin Lee Davidson vs. Gary Jackson, MMWA Wrestling 10/10/15

This is just a 7 minute match with an unsatisfying, show-ending finish that saw Davidson just walk to the back to save his title, but this was a fun 7 minutes. Davidson really is massive and has similar movements to Akebono. He's slightly smaller but actually shaped similarly, and while he doesn't have the insane power that Akebono does he clearly has agility in different ways. At times I thought he was almost a bit too giving with Jackson, letting Jackson transition to strikes a little too easily at times. But still this is 80% controlled by Davidson, as it should be for a guy who is both champion, and massive. He throws some big back elbows (I love the ones in the corner), a slick vertical suplex, some nice stomps to the back of the head, nice knee lift, and then really surprises me by hitting a real great spinning heel kick. Jackson for his part throws some decent short right hands and a nice sharp elbowdrop. Davidson generously goes up for a big back suplex bump. I liked this. It had that unsatisfying finish, but made me want to see more Davidson, which was what this investigation was about, so that's a success.

2. Kevin Lee Davidson vs. Chris Lexx, SGWA 4/8/16

SGWA stands for "South's Greatest Wrestling Association", by the way. And I really liked this, though the structure was a little frustrating. Lexx is a weird case of a guy with what seems like real good ability, and real terrible shtick and personality. KLD was already in the ring when the video started, and Lexx came out and as the match started he immediately went into the tired old routine of asking the fans for cheers, then having them boo KLD, doing pose offs, all sorts of played out shtick that's usually done by people who know they don't have actual ability to have a decent match, so they involve the crowd in other ways. Then things finally get going and Lexx has actual good punches and a great back elbow and it's like motherfucker, why didn't you lead with that!? KLD looked pretty awesome here, the guy throws nice punches, throws these huge kicks (his kick to a downed Lexx was brutal), works stiff and works real well as a bully, throws in some shtick (setting up a big splash and then just bending down to spit on Lexx), misses stuff with authority, and has that fucking wild card spinning heel kick that is just one of the most awesome current high spots in wrestling. He's a really big guy, and he just whips right into that kick. Finish is a dud as KLD misses FOUR corner charges and, exhausted, falls over, allowing Lexx to hit the big splash for the win. The corner charges looked silly by the second one. But by the 4th they just had to be looking for laughs from the boys in the back. STILL, I liked both guys, especially KLD. I may have to start regularly seeking him out. Lexx also looked good, especially down the stretch after he cut out the nonsense, so might have to go down a YouTube rabbit hole with him as well.

So this was a pretty successful little search. KLD is a guy I'm gonna look out for, and a guy that others should check out. There may be another post about him, oh that mystery fat guy. EVERYBODY SEND ME MORE MYSTERY FAT GUYS!! I DEMAND THEM!

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Saturday, June 11, 2016

Big Time Wrestling TV 6/10/16

1. Victor Sterling vs. Ricky Mandel (3/25/16)

It got time, but didn't do a whole lot for me. Mandel really isn't that good, still have no clue how he got the LU gig. Although him being good may have been what lead to his eventual LU murder. He comes off real clumsy, so when he does standard cruiser stuff it always looks stumbly. He falls on his head doing that silly little backflip with his leg over Sterling's neck, falls short on superkicks, hits spin kicks in slow motion, just rarely looks good. Sterling had some nice stuff but didn't have a whole lot to work with here. Sterling's best stuff is always on the mat, as he's really good at grinding things out, pressing forearms into jaws, not showing tons of light on exchanges. But Mandel was really bad at taking some of his slightly more complicated offense. Some of the layout was there, this could have been much better with not-Mandel in there.

2. Rik Luxury vs. El Guerrero vs. Shane Kody (3/25/16)

When you get a Shane Kody match, you know what you're in for. Kody is the owner of the fed, the champion of the fed, the guy who never loses in the fed, the guy who rarely bumps in the fed, the guy who can't even let a heel get a visual pin, the guy who throws mostly chops. There are plenty of immobile workers in their 50s that I dig, but they all tend to be guys I loved or would have loved in their 30s. Kody works like a guy who was never actually a good worker at any age. The match goes far too long, and really only survives because it had a guy like Rik Luxury in there to glue things together. Guerrero is a real zero, a guy who looks athletic but never does a single athletic thing, and genuinely looks untrained. He hardly does anything you could even call offense. So Luxury had to have his boots on in this one, and luckily for me he did. He ably stooged around for Kody, at one point hilariously going up for a Flair turnbuckle flip but stopping half way through and delaying the upside down portion of the bump, before belly flopping back in the ring. He takes all of the bumps to the floor, makes a good point of falling into a bunch of front row fans as he's getting chopped around the ring, adds whatever ebbs and flows the match has (Kody essentially stands around the entire match, outside of one nice bump he takes after taking a shot with his cowbell), setting up the other two for their moments. Rik even breaks out a gorgeous asai moonsault. Did think Rik had it in him. So yeah, you knew this was going to be a Kody match. When the ref gets bumped after Kody takes a cowbell shot, he even kicks out of a fake pinfall counted by Luxury. The guy shows absolutely zero ass at any point. He's like HHH, but if HHH wrestled like five-years-from-now Jim Duggan. It's really a bummer. Still, Rik Luxury. Class all the way.

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Friday, June 10, 2016

NXT 225 6/5/14 Review

1. Mojo Rawley vs. Aiden English

Annoying that we had to see English fed to Mojo just a few weeks ago, and here it happens again. There are literally DOZENS of guys hanging around backstage at NXT. Dozens. Feed all of the members of Adam Rose's circle jerk to him. English is one of the best workers on the roster. Why is he the one who has to make this goof look good? At least English looks good during the match, I really love his body shots, yakuza kicks and other strikes, and he has a really great headlock. If you're in a fed that requires heels to lock on a chinlock before the babyface makes a comeback, you might as well have a real nice headlock. English really bumps around big for Mojo's so-so offense. So clearly he's paired with Mojo because he bumps like a freak, but also has size, so you avoid the visual of Mojo tossing around a cruiserweight. But shoot man I just want to see normal, awesome English matches.

2. Bayley vs. Charlotte

ER: Well, this certainly wasn't that good! Is Natalya really the glue, or is Bayley just not very good? Both things certainly seemed true here. Charlotte looked so much better against Natalya the week before, and Bayley looked sloppy through most of this. Whereas I liked all the Charlotte/Nattie mat stuff last week, the matwork here was painful. At one point Charlotte kind of flopped and spun on Bayley's back, and I have no clue what was actually supposed to have happened. Was that the plan? Bayley's strikes looked weak and they both looked lost at times. The only moment that looked really good was when Bayley got yanked to the floor by Sasha and then Sasha went down like a shot from an elbow. Summer Rae comes out for distraction, Charlotte hits a super ugly dropkick where it looks like one foot kinda touched Bayley's leg, but Bayley sells her lip, and this stunk.

3. Jason Jordan & Tye Dillinger vs. Stuart Cumberland & Philip Gouljar

I have no clue who is in charge of jobber naming, but it looks like they just went through a directory of junior college lit professors and went "those are names". Cumberland is former Bay Area worker Aaron Solo, not sure who Gouljar really is. But Regal totally picks up on the name Gouljar and just starts repeating it, all through the match. Match itself was plenty enjoyable and very basic. JJ and Dillinger work like young lions, nothing too flashy, but JJ has a nice front headlock and big lariat, Dillinger hit a decent kneedrop. Gouljar was my favorite in the match, though. He threw a couple nice punch variations (his body shots to Dillinger were particularly great), and really moved AND looked like a taller Todd Morton. I mean it was realll similar. His movements and mannerisms, and the way he delivered some of the basics just screamed Morton. I eagerly awaited him taking a backdrop bump to see if the Morton effect was real, and then holy lord did he ever, getting big height and then under rotating so he came down practically face force. Good god man. Regal was on fire throughout the match, even going so far as putting over a chop as not merely a slap, but a man's palm hitting you in the sternum, halting the breathing. Awesome stuff. So yeah, this was all very basic, simple stuff, but really enjoyable. It didn't seem like Gouljar was an actual NXT guy, so likely won't be seeing more of him, sadly.

Tyler Breeze had a fun segment introducing his music video (which, really wasn't that good), saying he already dispatched Seth Rogen's uglier brother last week, and showing some great hubris. The gimmick doesn't totally work for me, but I like what he does with it.

4. Justin Gabriel vs. Adrian Neville

Fun match that was a nice Neville showcase - which is what should be happening with him as champ - with Gabriel appropriately hanging back and not trying to outshine. Gabriel got to do some fun stuff, but a lot of it was in the name of allowing Neville to look good. And Neville did. He hit a huge dive, a rolling senton off the apron, big dropkicks, worked some cool fast sequences with Gabriel that he can't really do with just anybody in NXT. Gabriel is much better when he's holding back and not trying to be the flashy one in the match. That meant he got to throw his energy into big bumps and missed offense that allowed Neville to transition back to his big stuff. Gabriel had a huge bump to the floor and was wise to slyly smack his palm against the metal entrance grating on his way down, so his bump made a huge bang sound. This was a real nice victory lap for Neville after his Takeover title defense.

After the match Tyson Kidd comes out to beg for one more shot at the belt, which Neville agrees to. They're really portraying Kidd as a heel here, even though he hasn't done anything untoward. He's acted frustrated, but he hasn't cheated, hasn't insulted Neville (unlike Neville doing so in the build up to Takeover), and uses logic to explain why he's deserving of a shot and why he wants the belt. Plus they keep repeating this weird line saying that by losing at Takeover, Kidd has become known as "Natalya's husband". That's weird. From a kayfabe standpoint that's implying that Kidd has done nothing but fail and Natalya is an untouchable legend, with Kidd residing in her shadow. But from a kayfabe standpoint, I can't see how Natalya has really done that much. She held the Divas title once, for a couple months, 5 years before this episode. Kidd is at least a 3 time tag champ, and has held gold more recently than Natalya. Plus, she also lost her match at the same event that apparently gave him his humiliating loss. It's a weird angle. Even without it making sense, I don't see what's bad about being called Natalya's husband. I mean, he is.


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Thursday, June 09, 2016

Reader Request: Tristan Ramsey vs. Toby Farley, NWA Smoky Mountain

Tristan Ramsey vs. Toby Farley NWA Smoky Mountain 1/16

I love getting recommendations, and I'm especially interested in hearing about guys I've never seen before. I had never heard of either of these two, and it's kinda heartbreaking as there are probably 30+ different promotions who put weekly TV up on youtube, and it bugs me that it's all sitting out there and there's very likely some gems just sitting out there, waiting, lingering in a one hour episode of TV that I've never heard about. So I like people pointing stuff like this out to me. The match is fun, although I think they went for some things that they maybe didn't earn. They really really wanted this to be a war, to be one of those "what will it take!???!" kind of battles, and those were the moments that kept it from being just a tighter, more organically competitive match. Farley is a guy with a lot of throws and maybe a little bit of Hero worship (now what I did there was take a fairly common colloquialism that means excessive admiration, but by making Hero proper I also clearly imply that he seems like he lifts specific sequences from Chris Hero matches. Hero worship. I'm a hack), which hey, if you gotta lift something from somebody, lift cool Hero stuff like his awesome front kicks and his double stomp/senton. Ramsey was a guy who did a lot of stuff, really seemed like he had a deep offense toolbag, but also a guy who seemed like he would benefit from emptying a few things out of that bag. He had some surprising agility for a guy who looks a little squishy, and I was really impressed with some of his nice, fluid armdrags in the beginning, and also his willingness to take some mean bumps and also not have a problem getting his face kicked in. I loved that opening armdrag sequence, with Ramsey busting out fun unexpected flipping armdrags to confound Farley, and Farley getting pissed and just locking on a snug waistlock and launching him with a release German. A lot of the strike exchange stuff didn't do much for me. Both men had weak chops, and both did a lot of headbutts. The headbutts probably hurt like hell, but didn't look very good, which is a bad combo for a human hitting his head against something for dramatic effect. Farley had some real nice front kicks though, so peppering those into his brawling were a plus. He had tons of suplexes, and Ramsey impressively went up for all of them. I didn't care tons for Ramsey comeback strikes, as he doesn't have any sort of quick burst speed so came off real sluggish when he would charge with a strike, flat back bump by Farley, up to his feet, charge with another strike. The "charging" didn't come off well, and the strikes kind of suffered as well. The kneeling in front of each other headbutt spot didn't feel really earned, as they were having a nice match up to there, but really wasn't feeling like the war they thought it was. I did like the finish, with Farley rolling down his kneepad to set up his jumping knee, and Ramsey doing a double lindy bump off it. I love when wrestlers adjust some gear to set up a big move. Greg Valentine shifting his shin guard before locking on the figure 4 was one of the first wrestling matches I saw, and it always looked awesome. Things haven't changed.

So hey, this was a fun match. Things could have been tightened up, but both guys did plenty of things I liked and it felt like they'll continue getting better, and that makes for a fulfilling wrestling watching experience.

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Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Is TNA Not Entirely Terrible Now? A Small Sample Curiosity.

So last night (6/7) for reasons I cannot entirely explain, I watched an episode of TNA Impact. Maybe it was because we're in a TV programming lull, maybe it's because Rachel was working on something downstairs so I couldn't watch anything that we typically watch together, maybe I somehow haven't learned my lesson after 14 years (btw, TNA has existed for FOURTEEN YEARS!! When TNA started I couldn't vote. What the fuck, Time??). Probably some combination of all of those things, plus I saw on the episode guide that Matt Hardy was going to face Drew Galloway on the show, and based on my cursory knowledge of who is actually on their current roster, these two are really two of the only guys I would care to see in a TNA match. So I DVR'd it, and...

I ended up enjoying the entire show. Now, to be clear, by "entire show" I mean "I fast forwarded through any and all talking segments and paid attention to three of the matches while casually paying attention to the other three matches". So there was a lot of fast forwarding, but not nearly as much as there could have been. For a promotion who never has gotten the detail work right, this was a surprisingly well paced show (even fast forwarding through 75% of your average Impact episode would tell you whether or not the pacing was good) with a more professional look than I'm used to after 14 years of blunders and bush league presentation (I should remind you again that TNA has been around for FOURTEEN YEARS! When TNA started, Kanye West was known as "Producer of The Blueprint", or "Kanye West: Man with Fully Functioning Jaw"). I enjoyed the announce crew of Josh Matthews and Pope. For a totally insufferable human being, Matthews plays nicely off Pope, who in turn does color commentary like the best parts of Tazz and Booker T. They complement each other nicely, which I don't think I've been able to say about any TNA commentary crew ever.

The matches were surprisingly enjoyable as well. Even when TNA has had workers I enjoy, the company style always felt detrimental to match quality, and it always felt like it had that early MLW or 2000s Guadalajara (and possibly current Guadalajara?) vibe where wrestlers I like go to have matches I dislike. There was a TNA stink on even their best workers and matches, and last night I didn't smell any sort of TNA stink. The short and inoffensive matches were short and inoffensive, and the matches given time to be something more delivered.

I really enjoyed Eddie Edwards/Trevor Lee as an interference clustered cruiser match, with Lee really throwing himself into Edwards' offense, a big Lee bump where Edwards caught the apron punt and swept Lee's leg to make him faceplant on the apron, a big Edwards dive, nice Lee suplex, good nearfall based on interference, just a fun match. More noteworthy was a 10 man tag that was probably just 8 minutes, but really good. TNA throughout its history has been hilariously inept at large multiman matches. This in theory should be one of the easiest matches to lay out, as with 10 guys even the worst wrestlers should have one or two cool tricks they can do so nobody has to be exposed, and you can keep action moving with constant saves and tag ins. Yet somehow TNA multimans (specifically the always laugh out loud bad multiman cage matches where you'd end up with 80% of the guys lying around the ring breathing heavily after just a few minutes) always flopped, always turned into an awful mess, never felt like they had enough action. So here were 10 men - 5 of whom I had at least heard of before, 3 of whom I could at least pick out of a lineup - 10 men of varying abilities working a tight 7 minutes with no filler, some smart, simple spots, and a satisfying finish. Jessie Godderz had a couple nice press slams, there were a couple stocky little guys in striped tights who came in gunning low with elbows and nice aggression, Crazzy Steve seems like he might be good, even Abyss had a cool moment where he made a save by just grabbing a guy by the throat.

The main event of Matt Hardy vs. Drew Galloway was really good and with an actual conclusive finish I was already prepared to nominate it for our MOTY list. Hardy looks insane right now, like a methier and/or draggier Toecutter, which...well would actually work pretty well as a wrestling character. But these guys beat the hell out of each other, constantly lobbing nice punches and elbows, Hardy takes a backbreaker on the ring apron, Galloway takes a side effect on the ring steps, Galloway threw a big belly to belly, they found a nice way to set up some tree of woe stuff with a blocked superplex leading to some Hardy headbutts, and then when Hardy was taking too long to set something up I thought it was going to look silly when Drew took a move after hanging out for so long, but instead Drew was just playing possum and sprang up to launch Hardy across the ring. More big chops, more great Hardy punches, more great Galloway elbows to Hardy's weird head. Yeah we got a run in finish but this was a fine match, exactly what I was hoping for out of these guys.

So there I was, enjoying TNA, actually thinking about watching TNA one week from now, which is a thought I don't think I've ever had. Watching TNA has always been more of an accident, or something to throw on for a laugh when people are over and you remember it's on. I don't know if I've ever actively planned to watch TNA a week in advance. But this show won me over. There were still some silly moments, my favorite being their apparent heist of the WWE never-going-to-get-over name generator, - used here for Pepper Parks - who is now known as "Braxton Sutter". I recognize that it's entirely possible I just tuned in on the one competent week of programming they've had since joining Pop! I know I tuned in a couple of times when they were on Destination America and it was dreadful. So this could have been luck, or they may finally be onto something, 10 years too late.

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