Segunda Caida

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

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Big Time Wrestling 7/29/16 TV

1. Christopher Black vs. Andre LeVeaux

Hosts Dragon Dave and Hank Renner Jr. keep telling us that the debuting (?) Christopher Black has a "worldwide reputation for violence" which, well...seems like a dubious claim. But I liked him, so that counts for something. Match was only 5 minutes but they accomplished enough to make the short time worthwhile. I've never seen Black before and only seen a little LeVeaux. They start with some amusing twisting wristlock reversals, silly but I liked the outcome. Black gains advantage by yanking LeVeaux to the mat by his dreads, which seems like an appropriate thing for a mean bald dude to do to gain an advantage over a guy with dreads. We get a couple of moments where Black transitions away from LeVeaux by yanking the dreadlocks, which is a great thing for a heel to do, but rarely has an opportunity to do so. I really liked LeVeaux's big comeback down the stretch, hitting a nice lariat and a really hard back elbow, then spiking Black with a dropkick in the corner. Black hits a big boot with nice follow through to end it in satisfying fashion, with LeVeaux going limp on contact, making me buy it. I'd really like to see more of these two, or shoot just know more about where they came from, how long they've been working, etc. (**Apparently they just debuted in April, which is really impressive**)

2. Victor Sterling & Jack Madison vs. Rik Luxury & Will Roberts

Man Hank Renner Jr. sure does say the word "kisser" a lot. Nobody can be punched in the face, it's always gotta be his "kisser". "Take a look at Rik Luxury's kisser." There's no way he just naturally talks like this. His shtick is...tiresome. You can also count on hearing "well-oiled machine" many times during every tag match. And this tag match was really good. Really, really good. But woefully short. They go 7, and I easily could have been down for 17. What we got was really good, but so cruel to have it taken away so quickly. Roberts and Luxury are a fun team (I dig teams with size differences) who kind of do a reverse Ricky Morton, with Roberts being in the ring more often but as a heel. It never went full heel-in-peril but it was an interesting layout. Sterling and Madison have some polished double teams and Sterling in particular had some of his best move execution all throughout. A simple Madison drop toe hold into a seated Sterling dropkick looks real great when executed so well and timed so nicely. Sterling throws some nice knees and Roberts makes offense look even better, I dug Luxury doing a sort of fisherman's suplex on Roberts to flip him onto Sterling, and the finish stretch was real good and excellently timed. But again, so cruel to keep this so short. Easily could have gone twice as long.

3. Christina Von Eerie vs. Davina Rose (6/26/09)

Davina Rose is obviously now Bayley, and this is a smart move by BTW to unearth a couple of her matches and showcase them. Eerie ambushes Rose to start and I don't know how Renner thinks it's ok to keep saying "Pearl Harbor job" over and over to describe what happened. When a really large wrestler gets knocked over does he call it "a realll 9/11"? He has an extreme problem just calling objects what they actually are, always has to have some quaint colloquialism for every damn thing. Von Eerie's boots are called "stompers". Good grief. yet he doesn't seem to know what any actual moves are called. "Guy who likes Gorilla Monsoon commentary and adds shitty changes to it" is never going to sound good. This is really early into Bayley's career, she probably had less than 10 matches at this point, and it shows. She's decent at selling and can get over vulnerability, but she doesn't know how to land when doing offense and doesn't really know how to take moves. She gets confused a couple times one time falling out of a bodyslam in a way I've never seen anybody fall out of a bodyslam before. Eerie looked better here than I think she presently looks, seemed like someone who got to a certain level and stopped trying as hard. Announcer Dragon Dave is a creep in this as he keeps bringing up Eerie's ass crack and complimenting the camera man on his nice work. We also cut to the crowd to see someone with a Quagmire sign saying "Alright Ladies". Yuck. Good move to show this match and let a new audience see Bayley's beginnings, and a terrible idea to not redo the commentary.

This was another good, tight episode. I know I keep saying they're good at filling their time, but it really is important when you only have 30 minutes to work with every week. Both new matches they showed were good, and while the final match was not good it's totally understandable and smart that they would show a Bayley match.

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Saturday, July 30, 2016

WWE Cruiserweight Classic 7/27/16

1. Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Tyson Dux

ER: Okay, Jim Breaks just got mentioned several times on WWE TV, and that is just the kind of surreal I wanted as the tournament got closer. The match was a continuing trend of a lot of first round matches, as we get a lot of ZSJ's greatest hits applied in a sort of exhibition-y way. For a fairly long 1st round match, Dux really didn't get a whole lot of his own, and what he got was a little disappointing. His forearm shots looked weak, his clothesline had no follow through, his DDT was limply applied but saved by Sabre doing his vertical plant off of it. Where Dux did excel was putting over ZSJ's submissions, really screaming during the wrist work, really getting frustrated every time a basic move like a cravate or headlock takeover of his would get rolled out of immediately by Sabre. I really like Sabre's routine, I'm not longer a "this guy is in matches I like but I don't think I like him" kinda neighsayer, but I was hoping for a little more "match" in this one. I did love the finish and the camera caught great angles: Dux reaching slowly for the ropes as ZSJ keeps bending his fingers and wrist away from the ropes, before eventually locking on the sub.

PAS: I thought this was fine, a couple of ZSJ's transitions were really cool, and I liked the initial section with Dux using basic offense to counter the fancy stuff. When they got to hitting each other though it didn't look very good, Dux looked off a bit and Sabre is never going to excel in a slugfest. Finish though was totally awesome, loved all of the chaining of holds into the final submission, that is the kind of thing that he does better then almost anyone.

2. Drew Gulak vs. Harv Sihra

ER: Did Sihra really say in his pre-fight package that he "wanted to do something with his heritage in wrestling, but not so I chose Bollywood". Uhhhhhhhhhhhmmmmm. Are there...other? parts? of Indian culture that Americans casually know about and stereotype? That feels like the most stereotyped part of Indian culture. Was a cow worshipping curry eating convenience store owner just too on the nose for American audiences? Had do go DEEP underground into Indian culture with this...Bollywood, was it? Anyway, I really dug this match. Gulak was super generous with Sihra, while also dealing out my personal favorite brand of violence. Gulak's my favorite current guy in wrestling and there was a whole lot to like here, loved the way he ran into Sihra's stuff, the dragon sleeper looked flat out vicious, he threw one of the greatest top rope clotheslines you've seen (seriously, a list of great looking top rope clotheslines would be a short list) and overall they gave us a super satisfying, competitive, perfect WorldWide match. Awesome stuff.

PAS: Eric liked this more then I did, Gulak looked good as always, but I didn't think these guys were on the same page for most of the match. I did really like the ankle counter Sihra used and how he went back to it to try to counter the dragon sleeper. Neat bit of callback wrestling nicely called by Ranallo and Bryan. Really weird production having Sabre and Gulak go back to back on the same show. Grappling is a hard sell to WWE audiences and it is weird to force feed it to the audience like this

3. Anthony Bennett vs. Tony Nese

PAS: I thought this was pretty bad, there are a ton better tiny guys on the indies then Bennett if you wanted some 140 pound guys in this tourney. Feels like that should have been Lio Rush's spot, maybe Flip Kendrick. Neese is technically fine, but kind of a dull jersey meathead. Has a very Petey Williams feel to him, a smarter wrestler would know not to have even steven forearm exchanges with a kid you outweigh by 50 pounds, but Neese just does his stuff. Worst match of the tourney so far.

ER: The funny thing about the even steven forearm exchanges was that Bennett's looked better than Nese's. So not only was Nese playing on the level with a guy 75% of his size, but he was getting outstruck by him. Bennett was pretty clunky and Nese is one of those muscled up guys who never lands with a lot of weight, like that Hulk movie with Eric Bana, where CGI Hulk is just bouncing around feeling weightless. Agree with Phil that Bennett was a weird choice. If they wanted another tiny flier, there were better choices. His forearms were ironically the only part of his offense I enjoyed. He had some terrible looking jumping clotheslines, like he had only studied clotheslines from Kofi Kingston. And every time he would land off a dropkick or other leaping move, it looked like he had no clue how to land that move. You don't realize how graceful certain wrestlers and moves usually look, until you see somebody flopping around like a dying fish after hitting a dropkick.  You often see sloppy execution, you don't really get to thinking about sloppy landings. Ending is weird as the ref almost stops the match because it appeared Bennett might have been injured, so everybody stopped....but then the ref was like "okay, just go ahead and do your flippy move. Never mind. Sorry, everybody!" I liked Nese's superkick on the floor, didn't totally dislike the whole thing as much as Phil, but yeah this was down there.

4. Brian Kendrick vs. Raul Mendoza

PAS: This however was the first great match this tourney has run. Love Kendrick as new age Kid Kash, ex-pretty boy turned into grizzled veteran asshole. He went from looking like Leonardo DiCaprio to looking like RR/RW Battle of the Sexes era Puck. He is the heroin addict bullying Bubbles. Most I have ever liked Kendrick.

INDY LUCHA RISE UP! Mendoza looked awesome hitting everything with speed and precision, selling the bloody mouth great and totally winning over the crowd. Makes me want to go down a Jinzo youtube hole. Loved the story of this, with the kid having all the athleticism which Kendrick lost and Kendrick having to resort to every dirty trick he knows to pull it out. Finish was perfect for what they are doing, and I totally want Kendrick to win this whole thing now.

ER: Oh man this was good. If this match is an accurate representation of current Brian Kendrick, then I'm now pissed at Kendrick not having enough people championing his current work. Phil's Kid Kash comparison is dead on the money and this really is the best version of Kendrick I've seen. The look, the attitude, the cheating; this Brian Kendrick to the one wearing baggy vinyl jorts and throwing terrible fivearms on hot tags? Yes, please. I've also never seen Mendoza before and boy was I impressed. The guy is super polished and does everything 100%, no half-assing anything he attempts: no loose limbs on his headscissors, no dodging out of a move that he wasn't supposed to know was coming, no light shining through strikes, no moments where he had that vacant look in his eyes thinking about his next sequence. It's too bad the CWC doesn't have alternates like the early UFC PPVs, just as an opportunity to have some of the better 1st round losers get extra matches against each other (and, you know, get some extra footage to justify flying all of these guys in). Mendoza was snug and Kendrick was just as snug, more than I ever remember him being. Kendrick suckers him into great cheating moments, especially the nasty curb stomp type move into the ropes. Have a guy with braces bite the rope and then you kick the rope? Man that's some sadistic shit. Having another human bite anything is kind of weird and fucked up on its face, but someone with braces? Those things cut your mouth the hell up. Mendoza having braces and wrestling without a mouth guard is as crazy as guys taking wild bumps to the floor while barefoot. Mendoza doing a Fuerza bump to the apron to avoid hitting the buckles was choice, he hit with a thud on his plancha, finish run was killer with Kendrick doing an obvious weird possum sell before grabbing Mendoza's waistband to send him throat first into the bottom rope, then doing a gorgeously nasty reverse headlock takeover into a sick choke for the win. This was a simple match done to perfection, moves to logically set up other moves, no wasted movement, easily no question best match of the CWC tournament up to this point.

ER: Best episode of the CWC so far obviously, and the Kendrick/Mendoza was so good that we added it to our 2016 Ongoing MOTY List. It's a real gem and hopefully a sign of greater things to come in this tournament.



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Friday, July 29, 2016

MLJ: Gringo Loco & Skayde, Jr. vs DJ Z & Bandolero

Gringo Loco & Skayde, Jr. vs DJ Z & Bandolero

Cubsfan is a bastion of the online, English-speaking lucha community. I mean that literally too. A wall, holding the whole thing up. He's not the only place to get news, but it's there like clockwork. He's not the only place to get reviews, but lately, I know, if I miss a Puebla or Tuesday Arena Mexico show, I can figure out what I missed the next morning, and, to some degree, whether or not I should track it down. He's not the only place to see things in youtube, but you can basically watch the last six years of the big companies because of him. And the match finder isn't the only place... no, it pretty much is. I looked at over 300 matches in the last few years and I probably couldn't have managed a tenth of that without the resources he's brought to the table. So when he pushes people to watch a match, I figure the least we can do is watch it. I think Eric and Phil will tackle it at some point too.

So my understanding is that this is Cleveland's AIW, who often bring in luchadors. These four are relatively local (from Chicago, which feels close to Cleveland, relative to Monterrey or something). DJ Z's been on TNA but I've never seen him there. Unless I'm mistaken, this is the same Gringo Loco who was in IWRG. One fall. English announcers, not sure who, but they're generally fine other than a proclivity for Joey Styles high-pitched Ohmygods at times (unfortunate in a match like this where there were lots of opportunities to use such a thing).

There was a lot to like here. I was worried because it's indy lucha without anyone I'm really familiar with and that's usually a recipe for vapid, overreaching spotfests. I'll admit that there were a few, small, moments of excess, a couple of blown spots, and most egregious, a few instances of unnatural waiting around to set up a spot, but in general, none of this bothered me.

The excess was limited and generally ended up mattering in the broad scheme of the match. For instance, while there were clear act breaks instead of just a endless stream of spots, the first pinfall attempts didn't come until very late in the match. This made a kick out, even after something like a top rope Falcon Arrow believable, because it was one of the first kickouts in the match. There were a few moments of adding an extra twist or turn or reversal for what felt like the sake of it, but in the grand scheme, it was few and far between, and often surrounded by a lot of stuff that did work.

The blown spots didn't impede the match either. For starters, there weren't a ton of them. Bandolero, especially, impressed throughout with just how smooth he was, especially in the face of the complexity of what he was trying to do. DJ Z had this quirk to how he worked where he almost always looked a quarter second behind. There was always this sense that he was going to miss what he was trying to do or that it wouldn't work. I'm not sure if that's because he's just a little bigger than the others or just lacking a little bit of speed. Ultimately, though, because he did hit everything, it almost adds to the visual effect. It gives it an added sense of danger or doubt and somehow makes everything seem just a little more impressive. The early exchange between DJ Z and Gringo Loco had that sense of roughness to it, but it worked for what they were doing, coming off more as struggle and hugely helped by the fact that they centered their work around a test of strength base, going in and out of it. Then, there was the biggest botch, Gringo Loco's trainwreck dive attempt. Even that worked for the match. Intent isn't nearly as important as the illusion of intent, enough dots that can be put together in a match to create a story. Immediately after he blew the dive, they went on to the heat, where Skayde used nasty belt shots and he and Gringo Loco did a lot of double teaming and isolation. It worked in the match with the blown dive as a perfect excuse for the change in tone. Loco wasn't about to play the high flying game anymore. He was going to get down and dirty and just beat his opponents down.

I'm even willing to handwave some of the waiting around and spot setting up. Why? Again, there wasn't a ton of it, even though it stood out (with lucha it's more acceptable in general out of the ring than in the ring; here it existed both places). More importantly, it comes down to cost-benefit. Yes, they set up spots. Yes, there was waiting around. Guess what? The spots were generally worth the cost. Some of the springboards and vaults off of one another were hugely impressive and innovative. Almost all of them worked within the context of the match with just a little extra suspension of disbelief. It's not a science. It's not gospel. It's a sliding scale and so long as they can make it work and so long as it's worth the extra moment of collaboration, I'm ok with it. It usually takes quite a bit to make it worth that, but they managed it here.

And somehow it's taken me six paragraphs to get to the main appeal of the match: it was really innovative. They did a lot of cool stuff. That most of it hit, felt fairly organic, felt like a struggle, and worked into a broader narrative means that I can be positive on all of it and not frustrated, but that's just me and my quirks. You come into this thing for the apron assisted rana on the outside or the step up rana off of the shoulders or the assisted leaps off of a kneeling partner or the caught flip dive into an apron power bomb or even something as relatively simple as the tandem pendulum dropkick, let alone something as insane as the tope into a wheelbarrow that I can't even describe and had to go back and watch a few times to make sense of. Out of everyone, I think Bandolero came off the best to me. He hit his stuff the cleanest, did the most technically difficult and innovative things, and even sold the best over time, not forgetting his backpain throughout the match. I'd be very curious to see him in different settings.

There's something to see for everyone here, and it was made all the more striking and satisfying that they were able to make all work as a match. There's a lack of polish now and again but it never is enough to take you out of the match for long. People should check this out.

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

All Japan Motherload RIP (again): Harley Race/Crusher Blackwell vs Tiger Jeet Singh/One Man Gang

Harley Race/Crusher Blackwell vs Tiger Jeet Singh/One Man Gang

This one's on me. I saw this a few weeks ago and took too much time to post about it. So now the link's down. Maybe it's on that mysterious Meltzer-befuddling Google Drive account of AJPW matches that has been floating around?

Screw it, though. I'm still going to write about it. Almost certainly, it'll pop up again at some point. This was about nine minutes, of which only six or so was in the ring, but it's really great for what it was. Yes, Blackwell is virtually immobile at this point. Yes, Race is probably hurting to some degree. Yes, Tiger Jeet Singh is in the match. It's still tremendous.

Race is someone who is best when he's in a slightly askew situation. That is, I'm not excited to watch him stooge and sell and give a ton of a match as NWA champion. I am excited to watch him try to get something out of Singh while two lumbering behemoths crash into one another in the background. Here, he plays off Singh perfectly, making is garbage into gold. Right from the get go, he's fending off a pre-match ambush with grizzled bravado, standing on the second rope and leaning over, daring Singh closer as the ref tries to hold him back. Later on (after slamming Gang, but we'll get to that), he plays face in peril, actually bring some gravitas to Singh's throat poke BS. When the spike comes into play, he wrestles for the very back row with a broad shot to get it, and a picture perfect suplex that would have ended the match barring interference. They go tumbling out and brawl to close it out in AJPW style. I'm not sure I'd ever want to see the pairing again, but once was exactly what it should have been and it was all Race.

The match, in the ring, started with Blackwell vs Gang, though, and again, it was everything you could have wanted out of two minutes of them clashing. Sizing up. Shoving contests, slam attempts, Gang tarzan-ing his chest, a killer big boot out of nowhere, a clothesline, Blackwell coming back by bullying past a second clothesline, and then the missed shots, an Avalanche, a Splash, a Counter Splash, and Blackwell hitting this amazing falling dropkick thing, which set up the tag and the Race slam.

Sure, this was fairly short and had one of those inconclusive All Japan 80s finishes but it's a blast. Just a real battle of the titans.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

MLJ: King Haku, Pegasus Kid, Vampiro vs Black Magic, Mocho Cota, Pierroth Jr.

1993-10-01 @ Arena México
King Haku, Pegasus Kid, Vampiro vs Black Magic, Mocho Cota, Pierroth Jr.

This was probably the most high profile of the Cota return tour trios. It was the top trios match in the 93 Anniversary show (the 60th for CMLL), which, though Meltzer reported it as disappointing at the time, had this match, Casas vs Fiera, and Mano Negra vs Atlantis in apuestas matches on top, both of which I think I've looked at before. It was up against an AAA show with the Vulcano/Huichol/Misterioso apuestas match which I ALSO think I've looked at before. Worth noting is Meltzer commenting that people found the Fiera vs Casas match disappointing because it was all brawling with no dives. Ah 1993 lucha fandom.

Story here was that Pierroth had just turned on Vampiro a week or two before. Also Cota had jumped not long before this, apparently, screwing up the payoff of a Latin Lover hair match over in AAA. This is just two falls with Sangre Chicana interfering with a foul on Haku on the outside, which, unfortunately, didn't lead to an awesome Chicana vs Haku singles match, but instead to Rayo Jr's return from AAA (looking kind of fat with a tie on).

What we have is just awesome though. Occasionally people would make broad statements such as "If you don't like X, then we'll never agree on wrestling." Something like that. They're generally silly, but look, if you don't like Mocho Cota bouncing off of Haku, then I don't know what to tell you. It's amazing. I love 93 babyface Haku in Mexico. He was just such a force, and as good as Negro Casas was as a foil for him, I think Cota might have even been better.

That's just gold, and the match is full of stuff like that, coupled with everyone beating the crap out of Vampiro, which is absolutely the best use of 1993 Vampiro. I think he may actually be just a little bit underrated in that role, to be honest. There's something lanky and awkward about him, but it generally worked in context. The end to the initial beatdown, with Benoit and Haku just having enough and rushing in, felt like one of the better frustrated tecnico brawling comebacks I've seen in ages too. It makes sense given who was involved.

This was a feel good, palette cleanser with a huge amount of entertainment value and a big return right before the two apuestas matches. Haku vs Cota was the greatest match up that we never knew we wanted.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

2016 Ongoing MOTY List: Sasha v. Charlotte

11. Sasha Banks v. Charlotte WWE Raw 7/25

ER: Excellently paced, well worked match that most importantly felt like a title match, and felt like an *important* title match. Sasha going for the kill with the Banks Statement right out of the gate, and the entire match, was great, and Charlotte really looked like she was going to be snapped straight in half in that thing. The backcracker into Banks Statement is something that I actually really love. It could come off super indy or cooperative, but Sasha has a sorta of...not smooth (don't really want to say sloppy as I don't think that's necessarily it, but "raw" doesn't feel right either) execution of stuff and I always think it adds to things. Makes her stuff feel a bit more struggly. With the recent revelation that so many current WWE women were inspired by Lita, it's only appropriate that in her biggest Raw showcase Sasha decided to pay tribute to Lita by almost breaking her neck on a dive on Raw against a dominant blonde champ. Sasha bumps crazy into the barrier off a Charlotte kick, I loved the Dana Brooke trick and Sasha hiding her bye bye wave from the ref, thought Charlotte set up Sasha to look killer throughout the whole thing. Really selfless performance from Charlotte, made Sasha look like an extremely deserving champ, and this was just a wonderful women's match (the night after two other women's matches I really really enjoyed. We're on a hot streak!).

PAS: WWE is kind of mess right now, but they can still occasionally put together a match that feels important in the way that few other wrestling matches can. Having this match given such a focus an so much time on a big RAW like this might make this the most meaningful women's match since Wendi Richter v. Lelani Kai. The work was excellent too, both Banks and Charlotte can work this kind of produced big match epic well, the crowd cares about Banks and this was a shockingly good babyface performance from someone who I thought needed to be a hell. Charlotte is pretty green but she went above and beyond to make Sasha look awesome, including trying that nutso moonsault and using every bit of her flexibility to make the submissions look super nasty. Even little production changes like post match interviews and no ringside announcers freshen up RAW so much.


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Dick Togo's Money Count is the Only Moment of Silence

Dick Togo/Yasu Urano v. Kazusada Higuchi/Kouki Iwasaki DDT 7/17/16 -FUN

We get a about half of this 2nd Togo return match, and it was fun to watch Togo tool some schmoes. Higuchi is kind of a Japanese Lance Hoyt, sort of big, but kind of clumsy. Togo breaks out this amazing combo as he rolls through, hits a casita and immediately slaps on the crossface. He also levels Higuchi with a nasty clothesline. We get a big senton to finish the match, I wasn't impressed with the other three guys so I am not devestated we missed most of this, but it was a fun opportunity to see the level that Togo is still at. This is Jordan after baseball, not Jordan on the Wizards.


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Monday, July 25, 2016

2016 Ongoing MOTY List: Rush and LA PARK rip up Arena Mexico

2. Rush v. LA Park Liga Elite 7/14

PAS: I am not sure exactly what the fuck Liga Elite is, but god bless whatever they are for this bit of glorious spectacle. CMLL doesn't do this stuff anymore, and I am not sure what the ramifications are going to be, but this was Rush and LA PARK having an old fashioned blood soaked lucha brawl. This would have been right at home with Sangre Chicana or Perro Aguayo and I am so happy to see the floors of the birthplace of lucha libre covered in pools of blood again. They rip into each other on the ring apron and it keeps going like that for the whole match, parts of it have the frantic intensity of Necro v. Joe.  Rush goes and grabs a metal footlocker and they hurl it at each others heads. At one point the ref just bails the fuck out of there, the crowd starts tossing trash and Park and Rush keep killing each other. This may have killed the promotion, maybe both guys get suspended, I dunno, but I loved every sweet second.

ER: I love these two. And really you knew this was going to be great from literally the first second, as you just see Park standing on the entrance ramp with his arms out going "Come at my bruh" and Rush in the process of coming at him. These two beat the hell out of each other, fly into fans, bleed, take nasty weapon shots, and really bring a level of chaos that you just don't get in pro wrestling anymore. These two don't hold back and it's pure joy and hate. The crowd is wild, throwing trash and money, Rush throws a step or a storage locker at Park's head, literally as dangerously as you can throw a step or storage locker at another man's head. Rush gets an unyielding non-folding chair and blasts Park with it, who then slumps down into the chair. But as Rush wanders away yelling at fans, Park stands up with that chair and throws that hardass chair at Rush's head, also as hard as you could possibly throw a chair at another man's head. The chair flies off into the crowd, rigid and uncaring. Rush hair taunts are some of my favorite things in wrestling and here we get plenty, notably when he's mocking the crowd and Park by holding up strands of his own hair while screaming with rage filled eyes, knowing how his hair is the most valuable trophy in the last decade of lucha. The person who - someday - wins Rush's hair needs to preserve it as best as possible, fashion it into a wig, and either wear that wig himself, or commission a bust of Rush and display that bust-with-wig in his living room. Park hits a dive, Rush hits a flip dive, both men take it upon themselves to just assume they are counted out or DQ'd or just wink at the camera and walk off set like Jerry Lewis at the end of The Patsy. Rush fist bumps people, Park shows he's a true working class hero by wandering around picking up paper money, then grabs an empty beer cup so he can start collecting coin money. I love these two.


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Sunday, July 24, 2016

WWE Battleground 2016 Live Blog

1. Usos vs. Breezango

ER: Mauro forces in an overly long House of Cards reference and Byron Saxton's big contribution seems to be "_____ seem to be working well together!" We hit the hot tag 150 seconds in. Tyler Breeze is still awesome and takes three bumps from the apron to the floor in one minute. And for a 6 minute match this got really good. Everybody was hitting enziguiris to people on the top rope, an Uso hit an awesome tope past the turnbuckles, Breeze got knees up on a splash and then locked in a tight roll up. Crowd was really really hot for this. People wanting to see some wrestling! This must be the reason why that Nationals game I watched some of earlier was so sparsely attended on a Sunday.

2. Charlotte & Dana Brooke vs. Sasha Banks & Bayley

ER: They pumped too much air into those inflatable tree things! They were just standing all rigid. Except for that yellow one going into business for himself, which was awesome as it flopped over like it was giving Bayley a high five. And this match was a real blast. Great debut from Bayley who worked like someone wanting to make an impression, Brooke was a big ol bumper taking these bouncy flip bumps all over the ring and floor. Loved all of Bayley's back elbows, loved the way her and Brooke flew into each other on a double clothesline, loved Bayley's sliding corner kick. Sasha drops the knees on Charlotte and Cole shits out "Vintage Sasha Banks". Yeah man, that's like...2014 Sasha Banks right there. Luckily Cole and Saxton exist in that level of terrible that mostly makes them easy to tune right out. Really fun match.

3. The New Day vs. The Wyatt Family

ER: Yeah this was awesome. This felt like a 2014 WWE trios with everybody utilized properly and all the cool shit stacked up in the best way possible. Bray looked and vicious and motivated as I've seen him in over a year, Rowan targeted Kofi and stomped the hell out of him (even walking over his chest post match), Kofi bumped all over including running ear first into a Bray lariat that knocked him ass over elbow, Big E has a major death wish and mah god does he take a vicious spill on his neck and shoulders doing his nutso spear to the floor. Even Bram gets some nice moments, specifically with a massive boot to Woods that, due to his clumsiness, sees him following through until he's just standing on Woods' face. Woods gets his biggest star moment yet (well, biggest star moment not involving a trombone) by getting to snap on Bray like he was Ralphie going after Scut Farkus. On first watch this felt like a total badass Rowan/Bray show, but I bet on rewatch a couple other guys will stand out as even more awesome. That's when you know you watched a killer little trios.

4. Rusev vs. Zack Ryder

ER: Lana is gorgeous but still hasn't figured out how to properly say "hand" or "true" in that pesky accent. And man this match was awesome too. Look at me, ol "Everybody Gets a Trophy" Ritz. This is about as excellently laid out as you can lay out a Rusev/Ryder match. Ryder worked up to Rusev and had some great snap on stuff, blasted Rusev with his corner kick, loved that crazy dropkick off the ring barrier, really planted that flying leg lariat. And then I found myself getting excited for Zack Ryder of all people when he started fighting out of the accolade. Rusev worked around Ryder perfectly, setting up some nice comebacks by missing stuff, hitting some nasty kicks to the back of Ryder's head, and yeah this was all real good. PPV of the year so far (he didn't expect to type when this show started).

5. Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens

ER: I am tired of these two fighting, but WWE promises me that this is the blow off! It is amusing that WWE isn't doing some sort of stip match for it, since they rarely advertise a match as the blow off. Usually they don't mention it's a blowoff, they just let the severity of the stipulation be the barometer for the feud. I like the beginning of this with the Owens cannonball and surprise pop up Sami lariat. But my lord Sami might need to retire that rope flip moonsault. At its best, it doesn't look very good. At it's worst, the ropes are too bouncy and you blow up your own shoulder. And damn they're certainly ramping things up to kill mode here, but if it is indeed the blowoff then more power to them, drop each other on all of your heads. Zayn just flat out snaps and breaks out all the exploders, all the corner kicks, fans go wild, and if this IS indeed the blowoff then it was the right match for them to have. Man this show has been really good. I have not liked the other WWE Owens/Zayn matches, but this one won me over.

6. Natalya vs. Becky Lynch

ER: Natalya working as cocky zillionth generation Stu Hart "stretcher" is far and away the most interesting use of her. Crowd is silent throughout this but I'm into it and Natalya as bully is the best. It lights a fire under Becky's ass too as she works as stiff as I've seen her, really surprising the tired crowd with a shot in the corner and a big kick on the apron. Nattie was great always trying to grab at Becky's legs, Becky was great firing back in the corner. Match was the perfect length, really well paced (though Lynch couldn't be bothered to even act like Nattie had been yanking on her leg), and man I must be in the best of moods tonight. Eric likes everything!! I'm just waving my pennant that says "Pro Wrestling" over here.

7. Darren Young vs. The Miz

ER: Jeezus how many matches are on this PPV? This is what I get for not knowing what the card is ahead of time.

*****I gotta go to a Gun Outfit concert right now, so will not be able to finish the PPV report until some time later. Sorry for the inconvenience (?)*****

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Digging in the Crates Podcast Episode #7

All Segunda Caida Episode with Phil and MattD investigating SC favorite Yoshiaki Fujiwara. Matt breaks his Fujiwara cherry with four great matches

Yoshiaki Fujiwara v. Super Tiger UWF 9/11/85
Yoshiaki Fujiwara v. Riki Choshu NJ 6/9/87
Tatsumi Fujinami, Keiichi Yamada, Shiro Koshinaka, Yoshiaki Fujiwara & Kengo Kimura vs. Hiro Saito, Kuniaki Kobayashi, Super Strong Machine, Masa Saito & Riki Choshu (9/12/88)
Yoshiaki Fujiwara v.  Bart Vale Miami Shootfighting 3/20/92
In addition Phil recommends the Whit Stillman directed Jane Austen adaptation Love and Friendship
Matt recommends George McDonald Frasers Flashman novels

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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Big Time Wrestling TV 7/22/16

More matches from their training facility this week. I don't have any dates on these shows but they all seem recent (okay, got confirmation that they happened in June 2016).

1. Kimo vs. Dylan Bostic

This match was good enough, but it felt rushed. It felt a little more like an exhibition. Hank Renner Jr. annoyed and also begrudgingly impressed me by using "folderol" in a sentence without making it sound out of place. Both guys did some things I liked here, with Bostic impressing me more. I really liked the stooging bump Bostic took to the floor off a Kimo forearm. It was one of those fun 3 part bumps that reminded me of something John Tatum might do, where he flops through the ropes, rolls to the apron, flops off the apron to the floor, etc. Was also impressed by the height he got on a standing rana, nice cravate, and little things he would do like catching a mule kick to the shoulder but immediately holding his jaw, and how he would cheat when facing the crowd (the set up of the building means the crowd is all on one side of the ring), holding the tights specifically when the fans could see it. They were nice touches.

2. Rik Luxury vs. Tony Vargas

Short match, just 5 minutes. I was really hoping for a little more as Luxury is a guy who can work a fun 8 minute match. Vargas seemed to tire out early and I'm not sure if that factored into the quick finish. There was also some confusion as both guys worked heel for the first couple minutes. Luxury complained about a hair pull, but right after Vargas was biting him behind the ref's back. Renner awkwardly talked about how Luxury is the one who is always untrustworthy, but then had to act like Vargas flat out biting a dude's face was just business as usual. Luxury looked good here, love his spot where he locks up with a guy and then gets tossed face down into the mat. He threw a couple great right hands, nice eye poke, planted Vargas with a nice DDT off the ropes. Vargas for his part threw out a nice spinebuster bomb, and a decent enziguiri.

3. Synn vs. Devin Danger

I really liked this one. Synn is a big guy and while Danger isn't exactly small he's clearly smaller than Synn. So we did get some nice brick wall spots with Danger smacking into Synn, and this was maybe the best I've seen somebody work around Synn. I dug Danger's cannonball into the corner, and then he one-ups it by doing a crazier missed one right after, which then leads to Synn hitting a massive one! Danger had some nice straight right hands, loved him finding new ways to slam into Synn and then bumping off it, and the ways he would sneak in offense like snapping Synn's neck over the top rope from the apron and following that up with an unexpected slingshot twisting moonsault. Synn hits his standing splash and Danger kicks out, so Synn hits another and Danger kicks out of that. I was expecting that to be it so suddenly we have a nice fighting underdog on our hands! But Synn splats him with a nice powerbomb (apparently 12 feet in the air, according to Hank Renner Jr....Yeesh.) to end it. This was my first time seeing Danger and I really dug him, would love to see more. Synn is a really big guy, kinda shaped like Akebono (but not THAT big) and brings something different to these shows.

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Friday, July 22, 2016

2016 Ongoing MOTY List: Terry v. Barbaro

1. Black Terry v. Barbaro Cavenario Cara Lucha 6/11

ER: Another awesome gem recorded by Black Terry Jr., this one is a kind of current dream match that has a kind of sickening level of violence. Terry and Barbaro don't hold back as they chop each other's chests raw, throw far too many shoot headbutts with both getting their heads busted open, and then applying fist to face. Terry matches always take on a new life after somebody starts to bleed. They work in some fun Barbaro trademark spots in ways I've never seen them, and I was howling when Barbaro rushed a slumped Terry in the buckles, Terry got boots up and Barbaro bumped it directly into doing his worm spot...and then Terry stops the worm by rushing out from the buckles and planting Barbaro with his great elbow drop. The brawling in this was tight, and it reached its peak when they brawled out to the floor (weird, a Terry match that gets great with floor brawling?), with Barbaro getting run into a support post super violently. Truly one of the great post bumps I've ever seen, and I've watched countless Lawler matches! There was also a perfect accidental moment, as Barbaro is beating the tar out of Terry and starts ripping Terry's shirt off and kicking at him, but Barbaro's foot gets tangled up in Terry's shirt while Terry is still wearing it, and Terry takes advantage of having his opponent stuck close to him and starts headbutting him. They even brawl on their knees, and this sounds like a weird thing to be the best at, but I think Terry is the best guy at making exasperated, tired, on the knees brawling look great. I even liked the ball shot finish, with Cavernario suckering in Terry with a fake leg injury leading to a boot to the balls, and then Terry paying him back with an uppercut to the balls. After the match Terry sells the ballshot more believably than most ball shots you've ever seen. Really evocative, and watching his selling immediately reminded me of every time I got hit in the balls so far in my life (and I'm sure I'm not the only one who can vividly recall every time that has happened). Really great match.

PAS: Holy hell what a war. Really felt like a lucha version of one of those peak Necro Butcher brawls. Terry is truly amazing, how in god's name can a man of his age work two violent wars like this and the Aero Boy apuestas match back to back? I loved the early matwork which was pretty slick, and Cavernario countering submission holds by biting Terry in the thigh makes perfect sense, that is totally what a Caveman training in ju-jitsu would do. After the matwork they get down to the violence with both guys just slamming their heads into each other Regal and Benoit style. The brawling in this was really frantic, big shots, thrown quickly from off angles. At one point Cavernario throws a forearm which almost knocks Terry off the screen. Ragged nasty stuff. Loved the finish too with ball shots feeling less like a cop out and more like the sensible way to end a battle like this.


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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Lucha Underground Season 2 Episode 18: Enter the Mundo

1. Joey Ryan vs. Mascarita Sagrada

ER: For some reason I didn't notice the other week that Famous B now has suit cuffs that match Sagrada. That's great. The match was harmless. Sagrada's big tope was killer, and he took a tornado DDT like a man. They milked a couple of decent nearfalls. Harmless.

PAS: I liked the tie with the Mascarita colors and the phone number on it. I was also a fan of Ryans flower tights and boots, the print looked very lush like the kind of thing Rag and Bone would put on a bomber jacket and sell for $1100.

ER: We get a Taya introduction video. Taya, who debuted over two months ago and has been featured every week since. Okaaaaay. I do like the reintroduction of Cuerno, who now has Muertes in carbonite. Hopefully they just erase all the stupidity they put his character through, because a Muertes/Cuerno big match can be goooood.

2. Chavo Guerrero vs. Cage

ER: Good match. I was hoping for an actual match but expecting a Cage steamroll, so was pleasantly surprised by a competitive match, and probably the best Chavo has looked in awhile. Chavo gamely took some of Cage's nastiest slams (that whip snap powerbomb off a suplex reversal was sick), got launched on a monkey flip, and I liked the nice false finish when Cage hit a big falling lariat but Chavo landed with his leg draped over a rope. I wish Cage hadn't no sold Chavo's big rolling kick as I really love that move, but whatever, this was good. Cage vs. Matanza could be wild.

PAS: Yeah this was really good. I am long time Chavo fan, and he has been really misused in this fed. Glad to see him actually get a chance to stretch out a bit and show what he can do. That monkey flip bump was really breathtaking, and that near fall on the frog splash was pretty great. I kind of hope Chavo gets a Rey match in Season 3, as those guys have always worked great against each other.

ER: Oh brother that Castro/Ryan segment was terrible. This awkward and shitty fusion of their non-existant comedy chops and their non-existant acting chops. Cisco's "You guys were robbing Jefe and didn't tell me!?" line attempted to save things, but then the scriptwriting yanked a rug out from under him by have him say he's going to tell Dario on them. What the fuck are these actual cop sketches supposed to be? Are they supposed to be engaging as cop action? Humorous? Amusing in their purposeful winking? Because nothing about them works. I just want to know the intent. If we know the intent we can at least figure out if they're succeeding in ANYthing they're attempting to do. But I really want to know who's baby this storyline is.

PAS: Eric pretty much covered it, but this undercover cop storyline is one of the single dumbest most poorly put together gimmicks in wrestling history. This is as bad, if not worse, than the midget speedboat stuff or amnesiac Cactus Jack or Beaver Cleveage. LU gets a lot of passes from folks who like the cool shit they do, but this is a bag of flaming poop, it is a crumpled coffee stained paper pulled out of Ed Ferrerra's trash can. Too bad, I actually like Mr. Cisco too, he deserves better.

3. Jack Evans, PJ Black & Johnny Mundo vs. Prince Puma, Dragon Azteca Jr. & Rey Mysterio

ER: Often sloppy, but almost always ambitious, so I overall dug it. There was a whole lot of things pulled off that seemed fairly physically impossible, so when some things weren't pulled of clean it made it easier to forgive. Azteca had a nice showing and damn did Evans hurl himself around the ring perfectly into position for him. Loved Black's superkick to a handstanding Puma, and I have no clue how Rey and Mundo tumbled to the floor with Rey managing to stay on Mundo's shoulders. I mean that was just freakish. We get some wild dragon rana attempt and reversal, Mundo awesomely catching an Azteca tornado DDT, stopping the momentum and tossing him overhead into Puma, tons of cool stuff here. Finish is pretty overblown with tons of kicks to the balls with a downed ref, Mundo celebrating a decade of overshooting his finisher, and a kind of anticlimactic finish considering some of the moves that landed throughout the match. Overall fun, but still feels like some of these teams have been underperforming and not churning out the classic trios matches I was hoping for and maybe unfairly expecting this season. So far none of the trios matches this season have come close to touching the big Crew vs. Ivelisse/Havoc/Angelico match from a year ago, even though most of these guys are better than most of those guys. I won't be surprised when we eventually get an all out banger, I just want it now!

PAS: Yeah this was a match which had some very cool moments but never got to that next level. We could have used more Rey and less Azteca. Rey was awesome for the moments he was in, that spot where he stuck on Mundo's shoulders was rewind worthy, but he only had a couple of moments, more of a cameo then anything else. Azteca had some cool stuff, but also was a step off in a lot of the things he tried, he is obviously the greenest guy in the match and it showed. Finish was really overblown and took away from the coolness of the match. Good but I think I liked Chavo v. Cage more.

ER: Good wrestling this week, which automatically makes it an easy step up from last week's trip to blandsville. This cop stuff is alarmingly terrible, though. Somebody please explain to me what tone they're going for. Also, reallllly excited for Cage/Matanza. I'm sure Cobb and Cage have matched up before, but never like this, in this environment. It should rule.


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Pat Patterson vs Bob Orton (MSG - 08/30/82)

Pat Patterson vs Bob Orton
MSG 08/30/82

39:40 in

Richard Land is a downright treasure of the community. He goes off and finds WWF rarities from foreign TV or obscure things that didn't heavily make the circles (or at least haven't been posted online). I can't be the only one out there who wants to watch "Ian Mooney" host D-Show Wrestling Spotlight with Sensational Queen Sherri (Or Vince host it with Elizabeth, just as surreal in the opposite direction). And yes, sometimes you just want to see the dark match from the first episode of Raw that only aired on Italian TV (It was Bob Backlund vs Damien Demento). He's also been posting longform shows from MSG and elsewhere. That's where I came across this.

It's a ten minute match that precedes Tiger Mask vs Dynamite Kid on a card with Buddy Rose vs Bob Backlund. Moreover, Orton's a guy who tends to be underrated and overlooked, though he does get great word of mouth from his peers and tends to come across well in every situation we have him in. Due to blackballing and just where he happened to be, we tend to have less of him in key situations than we'd like. We certainly don't have much complete footage of his team with Slater in Mid-Atlantic, which was supposed to be great. Patterson is someone I've learned to go out of my way for. No, we don't have much of him in the 60s, but what I've found is that post prime Patterson holds up far better than post-prime Ray Stevens, for instance. There's still a lot to appreciate and remark upon in his matches. So ten minutes of these two buried on a 1982 MSG card seemed like something worth watching.

Fiery forty year old babyface Patterson in New York always felt like an odd fit (maybe it shouldn't have) but he made it work through sheer effort and smarts. Here he took a huge chunk of the match, so much so that it probably shouldn't have worked. Orton was going over (albeit with a dirty but definitive countout), so given the relatively short timeframe they had to work with, it did make sense for Patterson to dominate. The challenge was for Orton to keep his heat throughout. He did, and in doing so, you can see hints and traces of just how good he was.

It goes back to selling, in the broader sense, to reacting. It wasn't enough that Patterson would block a punch and hit Orton. Orton sold it, and the meaning behind it, by winding up huge, letting the block linger, and then, once he was hit, stumbling across the ring to the outside and then falling back in over the top rope while swinging wildly. He ran into a bodyslam and bounced three times, waving his arms dramatically, and begging back into the corner. When he hit a shoulder block off the ropes, it was with his arms flailing in celebration. When he was rolled up off the ropes on a second attempt, he kicked out and flew under the bottom rope to stomp around in frustration. When he ate a sunset flip, for two, after some criss-cross running, he scooted back out and sat on the apron between the second and third rope in frustration. All of this massed until he had enough and rushed in instead of darting away, only to get outpunched by Patterson. When he finally took over, by using the ref as a distraction, it felt like the only thing he could do, but it still made him look good and crafty without hurting Patterson a bit. The finish, a crotching over the top rope that looked maybe a fifth accidental, did the same.

Both guys came out looking better than they came in. Orton only clowned for five or six minutes, but every second of that time was inflated in meaning due to how committed he was to his reactions (Patterson just as committed on offense). He only had control for a minute or two before the comeback, but they made the most of that as well. This isn't a lost classic, but it was a textbook example of how being committed to selling the importance of everything in the ring can make even a relatively short, relatively one-sided match richer and more vivid.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

WWE Cruiserweight Classic 7/20/16

1. Tajiri vs. Damian Slater

ER: I know nothing about the Australian indy scene, so again I love how far reaching WWE actually made this whole CWC. It's about the last move I expected from them when this was announced. And I liked Slater in this. There were really basic things that he didn't do very well, like he seemed tentative on wristlocks and lockups, seemed to be some hesitation during sequences. But he did some nice dead arm selling off Tajiri's kicks, hit a really slick and awesome fireman's carry roll through into a bridging pin, tossed out a tornillo that Tajiri caught kind of awkwardly, and most importantly he fed into Tajiri's trademark offense. Tajiri was sort of a let down as he ran through a standard 4 minute Tajiri Jakked/Metal match, even doing things in the same order as he used to, just a little slower. He just kind of skulked around waiting for Slater to get into position for his signature offense, when I thought he should have been a little more aggressive about getting Slater there. He felt a little sleepwalk-y. Plus all those teenage Tajiri fans watching ECW in 1999 went on to become indy kickers, so he kind of came off like a Jerry Lynn or Christopher Daniels, still working the same game that was novel in '99 but not as effective in 2016. That said, I'm excited to see how he looks in a non "showcase" setting in later rounds.

PAS:  I liked Tajiri way more then Eric did here, I loved all of his little carny counters like reversing the hammerlock by walking through the ropes and his hammerlock where he used the knee to hold down the opposite arm. Those kicks are still nasty looking and really nicely timed. Slater was fine, had a couple of slick moments, but had such a generic look and offense, nothing that made him stand out.

2. TJ Perkins vs. Da Mack

ER: Thought TJP looked really great here, didn't care much for Da Mack's 2000s indy tribute gimmick. TJP has tons of tricks to show off, so a showcase to potential new eyeballs works nicely. Him hitting his usual stuff so crisp only added to things. His spin kicks looked great, his roll throughs into subs looked good, the way he maneuvered off of and through the ropes looked kung fu flick smooth. Mack hits a really nice flip dive over the buckles and almost landed grossly face first on a spinning flapjack, but also threw a bunch of weak uppercuts, cribbed Human Tornado's old jive kicks (I get stealing spots from your favorite guys but man is that a super specific thing to lift) and overall didn't come off like a guy I'm going to seek out.

PAS: Yeah fine TJP showcase, I have seen a ton of him before so his stuff wasn't new to me, but for folks who weren't trading for NJ Dojo tapes 10 years ago I imagine it looked awesome. Mack had a really nice dive but his shtick was pretty bush league.

3. Mustafa Ali vs. Lince Dorado

PAS: This felt like an IWA-MS showcase match from 2005 with green indy guys busting out a bunch of their big spots to earn the post match Ian attaboy speech. The big spots were big spots, that reverse rana was seconds away from breaking Ali's neck, but looked awesome. Still the connective tissue of the match was pretty bad, these guys have been doing this along time and they really should have had better looking simple stuff.

ER: This match kinda won me over by the end, even though I fully recognized it as an Eliminators style "stand there and take my shit" type of match. Dorado has some big spots but usually doesn't hit all of them clean. So for him to go go go and not actually flop was pretty exciting. It made every spot seem bigger, wondering if THIS was going to be the one that was going to murder himself or Ali. Plus seeing a freaking springboard reverse rana and a double jump springboard Spanish Fly on WWE TV is just totally surreal. Ali almost lost me towards the beginning as his missed moves to get into position for Lince's shit looked flat out baaaad. That slow motion spinning backfist was so ugly that Danielson had no choice but to bring up how terribly slow it was on commentary. Then he missed a charge in the corner, when Lince jumped to the apron, so Ali somersaulted out of the corner and then just slowly stood up and turned around. It looked so terrible. "Well, gotta stand up and turn around and take some more offense I suppose." But Ali won me over by taking all sorts of stupid shit and missing some flying moves in ways that alllllmost look like he barely rotated in time. He flopped painfully on a missed moonsault and later on an inverted 450. The springboard reverse rana was nuts, dug Dorado's little sliding kick that planted the flat of his boot into Ali's forehead, Ali was a nutjob for taking that big ol' headscissors off the apron to the floor, and yeah. I knew what this was, but they busted ass and won me over at the end.

4. Akira Tozawa vs. Kenneth Johnson

PAS: Really dumb for both of the last match of the last two shows to have the exact same match layout. Japanese overdog having too much trouble finishing off green kid with lots of heart. Johnson is pretty sloppy and green and parts of this were actively stinky. Tozawa has a bunch of charisma and that final pair of german suplexes looked great, but I thought this was the worst match of this show.

ER: I...actually didn't dislike this. Johnson does do too much choreographed sexy dance fighting, has some offense where you aren't actually sure if he did a move or took a move, and good heavens that missed flipping whateverthefuck off the top (that landed 5 feet from where Tozawa would have been even if he hadn't moved) was atrocious. But compared to his first round peers I thought he showed way more acuity than Ho Ho Lun. I actually enjoyed the very opening with both men rolling wildly while in a wristlock, reminded me of when my cat accidentally got a paper bag hooked around her neck and ran wildly through the house to try to get the bag off. And even in some of his more aimless mat reversal segments he would surprise me by doing a competent hammerlock into side headlock. He ate Tozawa's stuff nicely, ate that nice high jump senton, took some kicks to the guts. Tozawa is going to be fun in later rounds, those scoop and delayed Germans are arguably spot of the show so far. The snap on that scoop one and the way Johnson folded through it was like the floweriest poetry. If someone had a looped gif of that as their sig it feels like something I would get stuck watching like 6 times through every time I scrolled past their posts. But then that delayed German where he just pops him over like nothing, just awesome. I liked Johnson here more than I've ever liked Killshot. That's not saying much, but it's not nothing.


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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

MLJ: Sombra Spotlight 31: La Sombra, Marco Corleone, Shocker vs Dragón Rojo Jr., Último Guerrero, Volador Jr.

Aired: 2012-05-05 
taped: 2012-04-29 @ Arena Mexico 
La Sombra, Marco Corleone, Shocker vs Dragón Rojo Jr., Último Guerrero, Volador Jr.

I took some time off after hitting the two year mark. I'm hoping to keep up a 2x a week posting schedule on lucha and other things now, including the DVDVR 80s Puerto Rico set. Here, I'm going to try to push forward on the Sombra spotlight. It's been a bit, so I wanted a match to catch up before hitting the Dragon Rojo title matches. I was hoping for some Rojo/Sombra interaction too, but Volador was here so it wasn't meant to be.

This was lucha libre comfort food, a Guerreros match with a beatdown to start, heat, some comeback, and exchanges to finish it out. Matches like these are tough to watch as part of a larger show (especially if you're watching live on Friday, Monday, AND Tuesday) but in a bubble I really enjoy them. They're pure, distilled CMLL and as such, so much depends on how the rudos interact with one another (especially if there's a cog out of place, like Volador), how charismatic the tecnicos are in hope moments, how imaginatively they're cut off, and just how they manage the comeback. Finishing stretches are finishing stretches, of course, but that payoff means a lot less without a solid build.

And this was all solid. Volador fit right in with the Guerreros. I'll take him in a trios match over a singles match anyday, especially as a rudo. He's in and out, works well with his partners, and is a sufficient dick to his opponents. In a singles match, they probably wouldn't use his corner headscissors into a Canadian destroyer until the tercera, and then probably as a near fall to set up the finish. It's such a game-ender, though, that I like it here a lot more as the finishing move as the primera. The finish was perfect as Sombra and Volador did a bunch of that built-to rope bounce posing, only for Volador to rip his mask right off and deny the fans another heated athletic exchange.

Marco was used really effectively here. He still had a little more gas in his tank so he was able to supplement the great punches and size discrepancy spots with a few big dives and more frenetic exchanges. He had the comeback with a bunch of leapfrogs and a twisting top rope move. And I especially liked this exchange (which cuts off right before his clothesline doesn't look all that great. 

I could have used just a little more Sombra vs Volador here as it's endlessly more tolerable in a trios match, but the whole point was to put heat on Volador by denying it, and it was ultimately effective, so I was happy with what this was. 

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Monday, July 18, 2016

2015 Ongoing Match of the Year List

19. Timothy Thatcher v. Marcus Lewis PREMIER IX 6/7

ER: Well this was awesome. I had high expectations for it and it totally lived up to them. Lewis has been doing this for just a couple years, is a really nice guy and is improving really fast. One of my favorite local guys that I get to see on a regular basis. Thatcher has had an incredible last year and is now known nationally (I have to imagine his WM weekend EVOLVE matches were star making, the building was in love with him during the Hero match). I've never seen these two match up and it's been one of my little Bay Area "dream matches". The mat stuff is as good as expected, and Lewis brings more than I anticipated. At one point he does a mean scrambly boot scrape to avoid a Thatcher ankle pick, and Thatcher naturally works tons of tight cravates (one of them ripping out one of Lewis' dreadlocks, which Thatcher graciously hangs over a turnbuckle for him), and I like how aggressive Lewis is at fighting out of Thatcher's holds. My favorite little sequence was Lewis hitting a couple nice stomps, then a tight short knee to Thatcher's chin followed by a sick double knee drop to his stomach. After kicking out Thatcher dumps Lewis with a big release German and immediately pounces with a rough half nelson while scraping Lewis face with his wrist and forearm. Thatcher is always great at taking spills and he really made a lot of Lewis' strikes look great, leaning into uppercuts and kicks and doing nice Kawada falls for them. Really I like everything they do in this. Lewis hit one of the best missile dropkicks of recent memory, Thatcher does his badass floatover chickenwing into the Fujiwara (which was a nice nearfall since I've seen that sub beat tons of guys), some nasty stomps and elbows, his impressive deadlift Karelin suplex, really it's kind of crazy how much great stuff they cram into 12 minutes without ever making it seem like overkill. They just matched up incredibly well. I was even buying the upset finish, with Lewis throwing all of his weight into strikes and a big time shoulderblock, but then missing his 450 and bouncing his head off the mat. Thatcher's finish is gross as he does a headlock takeover (between he and Busick, maybe my favorite move of 2015) locks Lewis' arm and then traps Lewis' neck between his knees!! Great finish.

PAS: This was really great, totally should have been a star making performance for Lewis, feels like that this would have gotten him into the WWE CWC if it had been in EVOLVE (although HHH may have a quota). I loved his second rope missile dropkick which really had a GAEA girls level force to it, and his fireman's carry lift from the mat is a nifty feat of strength, the bump he takes on that missed 450 was gross looking. Great Thatcher show as well. I haven't really seen him work pissy veteran before, but he was really contemptuous, scraping his forearm against Lewis's face, driving his sternum into the ring apron, ripping out a dreadlock. Really felt like the kind of bullying stuff Finlay would do, but he also sells huge for all of Lewis's big moves, really does a nice job of putting over the kid's upset potential. Great stuff, and PREMIER is the best, we are going to start writing up all of their new shows.


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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Big Time Wrestling 7/15/16 TV

Looks like more matches from their recent student show they did at their training facility.

1. "Zen Master" Zach Muir vs. Chico Navarro

Boy Navarro is really not good. He's easily the weakest guy that shows up on TV, really has some of the most non-committal offense I've ever seen. He stops short on everything, as if he had super strength and didn't want to risk hurting his opponent. Everything that requires him to run through a move sees him just stopping at the point of impact. Stops on shoulderblocks, makes clotheslines look awful, whiffs on stomach kicks, threw an elbow drop where he straightened his arm past his opponent, just stopping short on every one of his moves. Muir has an amusing Zen Master gimmick which is present when he locks on holds. His stand up wrestling doesn't seem any different, but when he locks on holds while doing yoga poses, that's an amusing heel gimmick. Doing a sun salutation while doing an abdominal stretch? I laughed. Still, Chico Navarro, man. Not only is he the worst guy in the fed, but naturally he's a guy who seems to be pushed in his matches. It's a problem.

2. Shotzi Blackheart & El Guerrero vs. Beatrice Domino & Shane Kody

Shortish, formula match with Guerrero and Shotzi cutting the ring off by picking on Domino, while announcers Hank Renner Jr. and Dragon Dave just act incessantly shocked that the heel Guerrero is choking Domino in a pro wrestling match. It was terrible. "I've never seen anything like this!" A wrestler being choked in a pro wrestling match very much seems like something you would see in a pro wrestling match. Domino seems tough. It did not seem shocking to see her fighting Guerrero, especially now that we're at the point where practically every indy in the country runs an intergender match on many of their cards. This was okay for what it was, though I wish that Shotzi and Guerrero had done more with Domino while they were keeping her from tagging in Kody. Kody at least for his part threw nice chops. But then couldn't have been more awkward taking a bump on a roll up that ended the match. Really the best part of the match was before it started, with Guerrero talking trash to the crowd and doing a big build up to removing his shirt. Shotzi and Guerrero had funny mannerisms while removing their respective shirt and jacket. Shotzi may be green (har har) but her heel mannerisms are developing nicely and she brings great energy.

3. Dylan Bostic vs. Kenny K

Fun 4 minute WorldWide match between a couple of guys who I don't believe are BTW regulars. Bostic does nice heel things that need to be done more, like palming faces during pins. Love stuff like that. Both guys did a lot of modern indy stuff. We got our share of backcrackers and face washes. But the pace was hot as they worked a short match so wanted to fit stuff in, and the early match face wash did lead to a fun spot down the stretch where Bostic kept luring K into missing running kicks into turnbuckles to gain an advantage. So yeah, Bostic did some nice heeling, big dropkick, nice kick to the back, K threw a nice corner dropkick, and this was short and to the point.

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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Dick Togo Can't Even Mention What He Sent or What He Spent

The Great Chile/Hellspawn v. XL/Limite XNL 6/3/12-GREAT

The Great Chile is our boy Dick Togo working a Great Muta gimmick, he basically wrestles the same except for a green mist and changing his fist drop to an awesome looking diving chop drop. Togo is one of the most graceful wrestlers ever, and his fast rope running section was almost as pretty with XL as it would be with the Great Sasuke. XL was recently Alejandro Saez in the WCC and was similarly bouncy and full of energy here, had a really nice springboard dropkick and asai moonsault, I liked Hellspawn more, but I can see how he ended up with WWE shot. Hellspawn rocked in this, his mat section early with Limite wasn't great, but he started chucking people with dangerous suplexes and was all in, I don't love Taz, but I am going to enjoy Chilean fake Taz.


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Friday, July 15, 2016

Phoenix Pro Wrestling 6/7/16

Phoenix Pro Wrestling is a local indy that my pal Tim Livingston and I do commentary for. They've been running shows for over a year now, and sadly THIS show was the first one I had to miss (I was on a cruise to the Caribbean with my family, a trip that combined all of the nightmares of being trapped on a large floating island with Florida strangers, with all of the nightmares of being trapped on a large floating island with your constantly arguing parents; But, also, 24 hour wood fire pizza and a ship full of people whose job it is to essentially be your slave), but they were quick to upload most of the matches, so I took it upon myself to watch those matches (so I won't be completely lost while doing commentary on the next show, and because they all looked like matches I wanted to see). So check them out if they interest you, and enjoy the sometimes-in-the-red commentary stylings of Tim Livingston, sans Eric Ritz.

4. Boyce LeGrande vs. Victor Sterling

Boyce is always one of the guys I look forward to on PPW shows. Boyce was in one of the first matches on the very first indy wrestling show I attended some 17 years ago, so I love seeing still working and still actually having good matches. I love heel champ Boyce, love that he can usually win but doesn't want to risk losing so he has no problem cheating. The good wrestler who also has no problem resorting to cheating is a favorite of mine. Sterling is a guy who always does a thing or two that surprise me in a match, here I really dug his fisherman suplex (with Boyce adding a nice touch by grabbing Sterling's wrist to attempt to stop the suplex) and powerslam, Boyce tossed out a nice northern lights, nice yakuza kicks, and dealt stealthily with a fan who tried to grab his leg while climbing the turnbuckles. These two have worked before and have a nice 10 minutes down. I think they have a really good match in them. Their PPW matches so far have ended non-decisively, but they seem to be progressing well. I do miss seeing Boyce's big lariat, which he uses as his finisher in PPW.

5. Kikyo vs. Brittany Wonder

This ended up being my favorite match on the card, which was not what I was expecting. Not due to lack of talent, but because I liked the look of all 4 matches on paper, and I had never seen Wonder work before. So I was looking forward to it, but wasn't expecting it to be my favorite of the evening. It was tightly paced and both looked real good. Wonder starts with a couple of hug based moves. I guess one cute former Bay Area worker got signed to be a hugger, lightning could strike twice. I loved her hug into a headbutt, where she pounced on Kikyo in a full legs-wrapped-around hug, Kikyo tried to shake her by dropping to her butt, so Wonder leaned in for a peck, and a headbutt. Wonder has a bunch of fun offense, and it's suited nicely to her abilities. She mixed in some fun stuff like a flatliner type moved using Kikyo's own momentum off the ropes. Plus, she has a butt, so might as well do hip and butt attacks and a bombs away! Makes sense to me! Work to your strengths! Kikyo is really great setting up Wonder's offense flourishes, and chooses her own moments wisely. She had a killer lariat, nice STO and a picture perfect yakuza kick right to the side of Wonder's head. We brawl into the crowd and Wonder muscles Kikyo over the guardrail with a clothesline. The Kikyo moonsault is a fitting end, and again this was just a fun, tightly worked 10 minutes. Well worth going out of your way to watch.

6. JR Kratos vs. Sir Samurai

Samurai isn't usually a guy to be put in a position to have a workrate type of long singles match, so he must have been excited to get the opportunity to show off his gas tank. He's got a nice round belly but he certainly doesn't look tired after a 20 minute match. I liked the early one-up stuff leading to Samurai hitting some back elbows, but I really loved things when it spilled to the floor. Kratos hits a nice leaping knee while Samurai is draped over the apron, but soon Samurai ups things with a rolling senton off the apron and into the crowd. The crowd brawl portion was real fun as both guys roll around on the dirty floor, Samurai throws stiff shots, gets a gross in-use trash can dumped on his head (we can get some kind of scuzzy attendees at our shows, so no telling what kind of things could have been in there) leading to Kratos hitting a nice sliding kick to the canned Samurai. Back inside and there's an accidental DQ leading to a fun restart, and Samurai takes all sorts of big slams those did not look fun. Fun match and while crowd brawling can seem like almost a rest spot to extend a match in a lot of cases, here it was my favorite part.

7. Drake Frost vs. Marcus Lewis

Lewis has missed a lot of time with a concussion so it was good to finally see him back (with arguably the furriest ring gear in wrestling), although seeing him bump a huge lariat onto the back of his head really made me cringe. Frost is a guy who has really started to come into his own since the first PPW show. He's got a simple moveset and bumps appropriately for his size, and while there was a couple off moments on dropkicks, but we got plenty of fun stuff for a big title match. Lewis hits a crazy moonsault to the floor on the narrowest side of the ring, and later hits his 450 flush. Frost hits a big fat guy leg drop, huge lariat and finishes it off with a crazy twisting superplex. Good to have Lewis back, excited for more Frost title matches.

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Yeah Come Holla At Ya Uncle, Dick Togo Understands He's Back by Popular Demand

Dick Togo/Antonio Honda v. Yasu Urano/Guanchulo DDT 7/3/16-GREAT

LOOK WHO'S BACK!! Dick Togo returns from wandering the earth like Caine and is back doing what he does better then anyone. All of the regular DDT guys looked fine, their stuff is a little showy, but Urano had some nice looking shots including a great foreamr smash. I always liked Honda's Lawler punches and he took a good high backdrop. Still Togo was the star, landing everything with precision and not missing a step. I especially loved his casita which he rolled right into a crossface, just an awesome bit of business. We got to see that floating senton which was gorgeous. This was more of a showcase and a return I am really excited to see what Togo will do next.


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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

WWE Cruiserweight Classic 7/13/16

PAS: Helmsleys fake Liev Schriber documentary voice was pretty bad. I get they probably couldn't afford Liev, but they could have at least sprung for Pablo.

1. Gran Metalik vs. Alejandro Saez

ER: Metalik is Mascara Dorada, and I have never seen Saez before. And Saez might have the absolute goofiest "stagger" selling I've ever seen. Watching him twitch around the ring after Metalik hit a superkick, was something. His facials in general are just absurd. Dorada hits a big springboard flip dive, Saez surprises me with a shooting star off the apron, and Dorada wins in about 4 minutes. This wasn't much, any Dorada lightning match is more interesting than this. Saez hit a nice SSP but man was he goofy.

PAS: Saez was XL in Chile and I saw him during that brief period where a bunch of Chilean youtube showed up. I remember him as an amusing crowbar, and he was a little less crowbary here. That SSP off the apron was really nasty as was the high kick that set it up. I had no problem with Saez's facial selling, I am in on Chilean crowbar John Tatum, that is a wrestler I want to watch. Metalik is obviously a pro and will do fine.

2. HoHo Lun vs. Ariya Daivari

ER: I've not seen either of these two, but I must say I'm happy WWE went so far out of their way to bring guys like Lun into this. Quite the unexpected move. That said, Lun does not seem ready for prime time. He has super weak strikes, doesn't really have expressive selling, and was part of a few awkward behind the curtain moments (the worst being when he was breaking Daivari's grip, and Daivari was flexed as if struggling to maintain grip, and Lun moves his hands off Daivari's arms to clearly show Daivari was just struggling against himself). Yeah yeah we all know it's a show, but man did Lun expose some things here. Daivari looked a lot better here than his brother looked in Lucha Underground, so that's a plus. Daivari had a lot of polish and I much would have rather seen him advance. He missed big, smothered Lun with a headlock, fed into...whatever it was Lun was supposed to be doing. I think they were supposed to be moves. But one can't be sure.

PAS: Daivari had nice pop on his stuff, everything looked very sharp and professional. Lun is a guy who trained himself watching youtube, and kind of wrestles like it. I think it is cool that they got a Hong Kong backyarder into the tourney, no reason to have him advance though.

3. Clement Petiot vs. Cedric Alexander

ER: Didn't get much of a feel for Petiot here. His control segments were sound, but kinda boring. I liked his discus clothesline and liked how it set up Cedric's finisher, dug Cedric's big springboard clothesline, but this felt like they could do more with the limited time. And less Bryan talking about grinding.

PAS: Thought Petiot was fine, he and Davari should both be singed and be put together as a workhorse NXT tag team to put over guys they think have futures. I haven't care for Alexander in longer matches, but his flashy stuff works good in a five minute TV match.

4. Kota Ibushi vs. Sean Maluta

ER: Maluta seems pretty raw, fairly tentative, does some goofy stuff (top rope codebreaker, ugh), but I liked his big bump off the top to the floor off an Ibushi Pele kick, and liked his stiff superkick (with Ibushi turning right into it and falling like a felled tree). Maluta almost kills himself on a flip dive, catching the ropes and then getting a lucky break by hitting feet first on the apron with his momentum taking him into Ibushi. Most of this is a mini showcase of some trademark Ibushi flying, his slingshot moonsault to the floor, his nice standing moonsault, some quick kicks, nothing you haven't seen before if you've seen one Ibushi match.

PAS: I thought the announcers did a nice job of selling this as potential 16 v 1 seed tourney upset, and the match was worked like that. Maluta had no real shot coming in, but maybe Ibushi's neck is hurt or he has jet lag. Maluta's nutty blown dive really worked in the context of this match, he probably shouldn't have tried it, but he needed to try some David strategies to have any shot. That superkick looked great and was sold great and ended up being a big near fall. I thought this was an actively good match, and better then a lot of your pimped NJ Ibushi "classics"

ER: Well, let's hope the matches kick up a notch once we trim some of the first round dead weight. I love the idea on paper of giving these unknown guys showcase matches, but so far the unknowns have only shown that they don't have tons to show yet.

PAS: I thought this was good first show, Ibushi v. Maluta was good stuff and I thought a lot of the first round losers showed some real promise.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

WWE Cruiserweight Classic: EVOLVE 5 Way

Anthony Nese v. TJP v. Lince Dorado v. Johnny Gargano v. Drew Gulak EVOLVE 6/11

PAS: This was kind of a mess. All of the faults of four and five ways lots of cutesy double teams and goofy I hit you so you suplex him spots. Not sure if anyone came out of this looking good. Lince Dorado had some nice dives but outside of that, not sure if there is anything to recommend. Neese qualified for the tournament by winning this, but I didn't want to see more of him. He had some especially bad punches, and his long singles section with TJP was a PWG wankathon at its worst. I hope the CWC isn't like this.

ER: I think Phil is being a little harsh on this, even if it wasn't overall good. For example I only counted one "cutesy double team" spot, and it wasn't until 12 minutes into an 18 minute match (there were 2 if you count Dorado's armdrag/headscissor combo, but that's a pretty common lucha spot). Phil's right about nobody coming out of this looking very good though. We're used to seeing these guys in actual matches, so it always rings hollow when 4 guys get separately eliminated in 18 minutes. Serious question: Is the "Johnny Wrestling" chant meant to mock Gargano? Is the wink implied? Because it would always start immediately after he would do something really terrible. We know fans chant "you can't wrestle" at Roman Reigns because they're ashamed of their penises, but why do they chant "Johnny Wrestling" after Gargano raises his hand hiiiiiiigh about his head to bring it down into a thigh slap (you've never seen thigh slaps with less misdirection), or after he overshoots and whiffs on a somersault senton? What joke am I not a part of? I thought individual guys looked good in individual moments of this, depending on their dance partner. Dorada doesn't do much for me with his imitation lucha spots, TJP easily gets a bit too vacant in the eyes thinking about what spot to do next in matches like these, Gulak is one of my 3 favorite guys in the world but I actually really dislike him in these multi man matches. I'd just rather see him in a singles. Gargano had a terrible showing. He's not a favorite of mine but he usually looks better than this. And Nese, the man meant to be featured, had some really nice left hands, great chops, great short left forearms, but would get too in the "strike combo" zone where guys would have to stand still while he went through his rehearsed strike dance. 1-2-knee 3-4 legsweep 5-6 soccer kick. The final 6 minutes where Gulak and TJP essentially had to work a handicap match, setting up a Nese offense exhibition? Brutal. The layout of this match blew. But I actually enjoyed most of it up until the EC3 interruption/restart. I thought Gulak worked around Gargano's signature offense nicely, thought TJP came up with some nice offense teases to set up others' offense, thought Nese looked fine until he became the featured "fighting for his dream" worker of the match. But yeah, you've seen all these guys in better - WAY better in some cases - stuff than this.


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Monday, July 11, 2016

NWA Wildside Episode 19 Review

I notice on their onscreen graphic advertising all of the matches for the 1/8/00 Y2 Kaos says "Y2 Koas", which is like the wrestling ad equivalent of having spinach in your teeth.

1. The Station House vs. Skinny Kenny/Pete Platinum/Frenchy Riviera

Holy hell how have I never heard of the Station House before!?!? Three guys in essentially chippendales firemen gear being lead to the ring by a mustachioed chubby chief, with a faux Mike Post 80s TV piano-driven theme song with intermittent growled sound bites like "Station House this is the Chief, gimme everything we got!!!" I mean god bless the USA. This match was terrible but also 100% fucking flawless. When I saw the name "Skinny Kenny" I thought "god I hope this guy is fat as hell" and Skinny Kenny is faaaattttttt. He's a giant tremendously fat guy with a bad goatee and a pink mid 90s Scott Steiner singlet. Pete Platinum looks like Buddy Lee Parker dressed up as Karl Lagerfeld dressed up as Udo Dirkschneider. Frenchy Riviera is somehow waaaaaay fatter than Skinny Kenny but also 4" shorter and ALSO has a bad goatee and a glorious fat guy ponytail!! The Station House are a fire house version of the Hot Cops, all wearing vinyl pants under their firefighter coveralls, and the announcers say a bunch of outrageously gay stuff without trying to say outrageously gay stuff. When all three Station House members hit "tandem" dropkicks (they were supposed to be tandem, but man none of those dropkicks came close to being thrown at the same time) you get great quotes like "you're talking about three big boys right here!" Frenchy takes a bump directly onto Kenny in a clearly accidental moment. Frenchy I have seen before on some old 90s Memphis TV, but I'm pretty sure he had bleached blonde hair. That kind of massive body can't be on too many workers though, so it had to be him.

You guys....The hunks in the Station House are named - I kid you not - Michael Firehouse, Jay Pumper, and Brian Rescue.  That's....that's just impossible. That's not real! That's impossible. Let's see...Brian is the cute one...Michael is the bad boy...Jay is the funny one...I hope they're like Menudo, and the older ones leave the band so new young hunky members can join. We can end up seeing Tommy Firetruck, Glenn Hose, Cody Red and Brandon Backdraft. Maybe some day we can have our first female member, Kat Inatree. And damn Pete Platinum seems really good, as he comes in and muscles up Jay Pumper for a brutal snap suplex and then hits a crazy fast low dropkick off the ropes. He wrestles a LOT like mid 90s Benoit crossed with Buddy Lee, in other words a wrestler I would like to watch. Frenchy is just morbidly obese and throws in some great comedy shrieking when Michael Firehouse overpowers him on a knuckle lock. Skinny Kenny is kind of holding the team back as Platinum/Frenchy both look really good in completely different ways, Kenny seems older and slower and not as interesting. The announcer do a real good job making him sound more interesting than he is, but as I type that Platinum hits a nasty back elbow and Frenchy hits a huge powerslam while suggestively waggling his tongue. I need more of these dudes. Station House are all really inexperienced but Firehouse especially is plenty willing to throw hard forearms (in that neat stiff untrained way) and some really nice flying lariats. There's a lot of awkward moving people into position while those people don't fight back, but this was plenty of fun and I want more Frenchy/Pete Platinum. Plus it should BASICALLY be a legendary indy wrestling segment, as I'm positive this was the only appearance of The Station House. Does anyone know if any of these Station House guys did anything else?

We get a fun short promo with "Attorney/Agent" Jeff G. Bailey and K-Krush, with Bailey saying "Krush ain't going to fight AJ Styles, he's going to the WWE to rap and dance!" A literal SEVENTEEN YEARS LATER, and Bailey is certainly prophetic, as Krush has essentially just rapped and danced the whole time. "Show them how you dance, Krush!"

2. AJ Styles vs. Jesse Taylor

It's so weird seeing super early career AJ Styles as he already does so many things really well, but is also super awkward and uses a completely different moveset than you ever remember him using. So he throws these great punches (completely different than the way you've seen him punch for years, these were right hand Lawler hookshots, and Styles was totally punching like an old Memphis pro) and hits this insane running plancha, he also already had his fast athletic bumps. But his moveset is so different! I didn't remember Styles doing a bunch of legdrop based offense, but boy does he! Taylor I really like. He works like a green, mulleted Bobby Duncum Jr. or Kendall Windham. And let's face it, those guys had mullets at some point so it's easy to fill in his evolution. But I have no clue what happened to Taylor. He may still be working somewhere! I would be watching him monthly if he was, as he seems like a guy who would make a fun eventual mid 40s southern worker. He takes a flat out great bump as he grabs a chair but it gets ditched on the apron, and when he climbs up on the apron Styles dropkicks him down and he flies back, hits his face on the chair on the way down, and then bumps to the floor. It looked so awesome. Taylor throws nice punches, throws himself into shoulderblocks, has nice movement (he even moves like a Windham, which is a plus) and throws a good powerslam. Both guys were green, but this was real fun.

Romeo Bliss cuts a promo and ends it saying that they better put up Under Construction signs around his house, because he's going to be laying pipe all night, then sucks on his middle finger while miming pounding some girl doggystyle, then takes his now wet middle finger and mimes fingering this invisible girl's asshole. THIS SHOW AIRED ON TV!

Really fun episode, even though it was heavy on recaps. Still, they got an event to build for so that makes sense. The six man was a great segment due to the absurdity of the Station House gimmick, and the Styles/Taylor match was a real fun match between a couple of new guys. Another fine episode of TV. Man I'm jealous of anybody who got to see this fed regularly. It's the best.

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Sunday, July 10, 2016

Lucha "Worth" Watching: Cavernario vs. Cometa

Barbaro Cavernario vs. Rey Cometa (CMLL 6/10/16)

So this is kind of a trick, because I really don't think this match is lucha worth watching. I thought it stunk. I thought it was a good Cavernario performance opposite a dull and clueless Cometa performance, with a poor, sloppy finish that I did not buy. But I've seen several people mention this as being a great match, and I hoped it was going to be a great match and actually expected it to be at least very good. But it wasn't. So now whomever hasn't watched it can go ahead and watch it, form their own opinions and see where they land. So it's worth watching in the sense that the dissenting opinions create conversation, and maybe a little understanding.

Cometa was a guy who I genuinely looked forward to a couple years ago, but he just brought nothing to this match outside of a very nicely timed superkick (which was just used to set up a Cavernario worm anyway). He was so awkward getting into position for moves, so lazy doing so, just doing sluggish stuff like ducking before a clothesline was even thrown, walking around Cavernario and slowly pulling him into position for moves, not even giving off any sort of illusion of struggle, just standing around waiting to take a move without bothering to make it look like he was selling, landing all of his offense pillowy soft, just a terrible performance. Barbaro busted his butt, saving Cometa on a tornillo where Cometa's foot caught the ropes, breaking out a couple cool ranas I wasn't expecting, hitting a killer tope from the apron past the turnbuckle (I liked how Cometa flew into the barrier, but then he forced himself slowly over the barrier and into the front row, looking about as unnatural as possible in the process). The primera matwork was floaty and unconvincing, with some of it looking pretty, but none of it looking great due to Cometa loosely gliding into every hold. They even do that dumb mat spot where both guys are holding hands on the mat while lying head to head, on their backs, and the ref counts them down even though nobody is pinning anyone. Segunda was quick, and the tercera was of course long and went immediately to 2 count kickouts. The finish was built to so poorly, with Cavernario taking 85% of the match and hardly any damage, and Cometa taking all sorts of moves and kicking out, then just hitting a backcracker/choke that gets a quick tap. There's no way I was buying Cavernario being this worn down that a limply applied choke gets the tap. Cometa made sure none of Cavernario's moves meant anything, and just did his part to clunk this up as much as possible. Really, really disappointing, and really took away from what was an really nice Cavernario showing.

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