Segunda Caida

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

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

PREMIER XII 3/6/16 Review

PAS: Premier is one of my favorite promotions in the world, it is kind of a NorCal EVOLVE focusing on a grappling heavy style and using Jeff Cobb and a bunch of lesser known but really talented guys

ER: Premier really seems to be the place where NorCal guys I like go to have their best matches. Definitely my favorite fed around my area (albeit with an annoying habit of running Sunday night shows 2+ hours away from me. Selfish.) and I love that they put their full shows up online (well, all except for that awesome show I saw last year with a great Thatcher/Graves match). Happy they made it to 3 years, hope they put in many more.


1. Douglas James vs. Manny Mars

PAS: This was a opening juniors match, worked very much in the style of 2016 opening juniors matches. Pretty well executed, some cool if not unique spots, doesn't outstay it's welcome. I liked James a fair amount, he didn't have anything flashy which stood out, but his stuff looked really crisp and he hit a nasty corner dropkick after doing a World of sport style one foot turnbuckle climb in the other corner. Liked the finish a bunch too, with Mars putting on a guillotine choke and James lifted him into a vertical drop cutter.

ER: Well paced juniors bout with some well done if emotionless stuff in it, and some nitpicky annoying stuff. But pace, build and spot on the card are important factors, and it did well considering all of those things. There were little things that bugged me, like James not ducking at all when rope running past Mars, requiring Mars to miss clotheslines at an obnoxious 3/4 arm slot; but I liked that they didn't approach overkill, loved some of the moments (though the ones I loved that most were the dropkick and vertical suplex out of the guillotine that Phil already mentioned), and you get the sense that these two will be able to acclimate nicely to most opponents.

2. Buddy Royal vs. Marcus Lewis

PAS: I really liked this too Lewis is pretty green but has a lot of explosiveness. He had a nice looking pele kick, double stomp and has a really high leapfrog. This was the first time I have seen Royal and he was great. He has really simple but brutal offense, lots of stiff chops and violent attacks on Lewis's knee. At one point Lewis grabs Royal by the throat and Royal responds by stomping him right on the side of Lewis's knee. Finish was super cool with Royal pinning Lewis on a roll up by torqueing his bad knee so he couldn't power out.

ER: Killer little match with Buddy breaking out some things I haven't seen from him and Lewis showing himself to be a game underdog. I've enjoyed Buddy in his team with Levi Shapiro (The Classic Connection), but haven't seen him in many - if any - singles matches, so this was a nice treat. His attacks on Lewis' knee were great, and that short standing kick to the inside of his ankle/knee was sick, felt like something you'd see some lumpy Russian break out in RINGS. I loved how Lewis peppered in comebacks (though the deadlift fireman's carry was a bit much considering the story of the match), like Royal working the leg close to the ropes and getting kicked over the top to the floor (a sort of trademark Royal spot). All of those stomps to Lewis' knee while it was hung on the ropes were rough, and that finish was one of the coolest I've ever seen. I expect tons of guys to steal that it word ever gets out: Royal has Lewis' legs cradled the way you would after a victory roll, and while pinning him he twists Lewis' bad knee in an ankle lock. Just a nasty exclamation point on a super fun match.

3. Dalton Frost vs. Gabriel Gallo

PAS: This was a big guy slugfest match and was technically fine, however if you are going to work this kind of Hansen v. Vader match you really have to hit harder. Frost had a nice clothesline and senton and Gallo had one potatoish punch, but most of this was a little too loose to really pull off what they were trying to do.

ER: Boy I did not get any of the looseness that Phil mentions, and can't really figure out what parts he thought were loose. For a big part of the match we mainly get the stationary camera set up at the back of the building, which might have taken away from how hard they were hitting each other (no clue why we didn't get the ringside camera for some of these shots), but these two totally hit each other hard for 6 minutes. Frost clotheslining Gallo to the floor was really impressive, like a big dirt mover going up a hill. Gallo's big powerslam later was just as impressive. But I dug both guy's shots, the big clubbing blows from Frost, the huge chops from Gallo that made Frost's chest glow an impressive shade of red (again, those chops and the clothesline to the floor were all shown from far away camera, on the far side of the ring, maybe that played into the perception). And yeah, the shots that looked the best were when they were actually using the ringside cam, with Frost landing his awesome falling lariat and splatting him with a senton, and that punch to Frost's eye in the corner was nasty and I love how it lead to the finish. Seriously, this match was not loose in the least.

4. Tyler Bateman vs. Jeff Cobb

PAS: This was totally awesome, maybe my favorite non-Matanza Cobb singles match ever. Bateman is woking one of the dozens of old-timey Sasparilla Brooklyn bartender gimmicks, but is a pretty skilled grappler and is willing to take a huge beating. He tries to keep Cobb at bay by ripping at his fingers and landing sharp 12 to 6 elbows,  but Cobb keeps hurling him with nasty suplexes, especially loved Cobb chucking him neck first into the turnbuckle, finish was really great too.

ER: Super fun match, Bateman is one of my favorite local guys at this point, someone who I think could get over anywhere in the country. When we first saw him live a year ago nobody knew what to think, and he totally won us all over in a really good match against Thatcher. He always plays a kind of conniving underdog, never really controlling a match but always one sly move away from doing damage and capable of surprising opponents. I loved him picking apart Cobb's arm here, and all the ways Cobb would punish him for doing so. Cobb does one of the all time great European uppercuts here, really looking like it would dislocate Bateman's head from his body. And Bateman does an all time great sell of a Cobb snap suplex, really nailing all the feelings. Most guys just do a dazed loopy sell, but Bateman walks you through everything he could possibly be feeling: hot fire shooting through his lower back, tailbone aching, fingertips tingling. Cobb launches him with a nasty delayed German, and then another into the buckles. Bateman comes back with a couple of big knees, and I loved how he would pounce onto Cobb after felling him, using his whole body to gain any advantage over a fallen beast. We get a great slick elbow pad removal, finish was a fun surprise, and I'd love to see these two continue to match up.

5. Shayna Baszler vs. Colleen Schneider

PAS: This is actually a rematch from the qualifiers for the Rousey v. Tate season of the Ultimate Fighter. Bayzler got on the show and had several UFC fights while Schneider (no relation) has been fighting in Invictus. Fun shootstyle match especially from two girls who are pro-wrestling rookies (this was Schneider's debut). Schneider actually may have looked a little better, he knees were especially nasty including one in the corner which looked like it cracked Bayzlers ribs. Bayzler had some very cool armwork and was able to make it two straight armbar submissions over Schneider.

ER: I really liked this, can't believe it was Schneider's first match and Baszler herself is under 10 matches. There were several cool moments and the whole thing really impressed me. I dig Schneider's look, she's like an anime bounty hunter. Her knees looked great and then she would break out something totally unexpected, like that axe kick while holding Baszler's arm, flipping Baszler into a prone armbar position. Then that awesome missed high kick spot in the corner, leaving Schneider's leg draped over the top rope so Baszler could pull off an awesome high angle powerbomb. Loved some of Baszler's little things, like kneeling on Schneider's stomach to secure a wristlock, and the grappling and scrambling looked expectedly great from both. Again, a really impressive debut, but it would have been a match I dug no matter what the experience level was.

6. Raze vs. Nicole Savoy

PAS: This is for the Premier women's title, and was a match with some very good stuff, and some fun ideas which I am not sure really came together. Raze is a big girl, and puts some girth behind her shots mostly, there was some stuff that looked off (her spear is more Edge then Goldberg), but I liked her and am excited to see what she does with Bayzler. Savoy had some good intentions, she was working this like a Premier style grappler, and had a nice counter from an armbar into a LaBell lock, but she tried some things she couldn't pull off, including a series of German suplexes where she couldn't clear Raze and a back handspring out of nowhere which existed solely to get countered. Not great, but I like what they are trying to do with their women's division.

ER: I liked this more than Phil, but also thought that Savoy's Germans looked good and didn't see the problem with her not clearing Raze. She is smaller than Raze, it would have looked weird anyway for her to be chucking her around. But I thought they looked good. The handspring on the other hand needs to just not be used by any wrestler anymore. Just drop it. Everybody. The only guy who does a cool one is Stuka Jr. with his crazy no hands "hand"spring, and even he does it more as a celebratory taunt, not to set up offense. Let's put a moratorium on the handspring! I felt a bigger problem with the match was working several full extension armbar spots right after a match that featured an immediate tap after an armbar, by two actual pro fighters. You could argue it didn't end this match immediately because Savoy is not a pro MMA fighter, so the application wasn't as strong, but you could also do the counterpoint of that and wonder why Raze's arm was able to stay hyperextended so much longer. Either way, unfortunate decision on this card, right after that match. But overall I really liked the match. I've seen Raze work a comedy slip and fall artist, and seen her as a bully, and seen her as a combo of both. Here she's all bully and it's good. She has some nice powerful thrust kicks to Savoy's chest that are really brutal. I think Savoy is a real good babyface, and I love that her presence on a card brings in some young kids who then get to also see other awesome pro wrestling. She's a good "quality pro graps" ambassador :) I like how Savoy set up her rope walk armdrag by getting caught with it earlier, liked some of Raze's big overhand chops, and loved the crossface ending, with Savoy locking it on tight and Raze making it look great. Good match.

7. Joe Graves vs. JR Kratos

PAS: Great, great match, pretty different from much I have seen in wrestling before, almost like if Yoshiaki Fujiwara got a chance to work Brock Lesnar in a shootstyle match. Graves was desperate to grab a limb and twist, while Kratos was attempting to pound his head in with some of the most brutal looking ground and pound I have seen in a pro wrestling match. We also go some very cool shoot throws including Kratos nestea plunging with Graves on his back. At one point Kratos throws a shoot piledriver which didn't look smooth at all, but looked like how you piledrive someone in a streetfight.  There was a running bulldog and top rope back elbow by Graves near the end of the match, which was really out of place for what they were doing before, but that was my only complaint, loved the finish, really perfect flash submission. Such good stuff, Graves is the best wrestler no one talks about.

ER: Man what a fight, totally different than any other Kratos match I've seen. This was all about Graves staying tight and trying to smother him, trying to rip his arm off, not wanting to put space between them so he could avoid any Kratos bombs. You can see the frustration building on Kratos' face, not being able to shake this guy, and Graves is like a giant squid in all the ways he stays attached to his prey. Kratos shakes him in several different nasty ways, the nestea plunge, blasting him insanely hard to the cerebellum with a forearm, trying to slam him a couple times, trying to choke him, and it seemed like no matter what he would do Graves would just latch on. Graves would fight for that arm, throw body shots, throw shots at random parts of Kratos' body that he wasn't expecting, in an effort to get that arm. And all that is why that shoot piledriver spot is so perfect: It works as a desperation move, it works as a move to get dominance, it works as a surprise to your opponent, it works as a game changer.  One of my favorite wrestling moments I've ever seen (and I'm sure I'm far from the only one) is the finish to the Arn Anderson/Alex Wright match at Slamboree '95.  Arn fakes a left, Wright ducks, Arn nails the ducking Wright with the DDT. Ingenius pro wrestling spot. So when Kratos threw a right, Graves ducked and Kratos didn't hesitate to immediately plant him with that piledriver, I flipped out. New twist on a great moment. Phil is entirely correct that Graves is the best wrestler than no one talks about. He doesn't make tape much, doesn't work east coast, yet is never short of awesome whenever he turns out. Kratos is one of the hardest working guys I know, and he keeps improving, keeps trying new things, keeps looking for ways to get better. It's exciting to see. These two really meshed for something special, can't wait to see how they continue to improve.

ER: Well this was just another typical great Premier show, the guys really ramp things up when they work this fed. It's really something to see, and I can't wait for more. Cobb/Bateman and Graves/Kratos were both awesome enough to land on our 2016 ONGOING MOTY LIST and I have no doubts that we'll see other Premier matches show up on that list before the year is out.

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