Segunda Caida

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

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

EVOLVE 63 6/11/16

1. Cedric Alexander vs. Fred Yehi

ER: Some good stuff here although with some almost expected cracks. Cedric is not a guy who does a lot of the fast Catch Point stuff, but does his own brand of fast indy work, so the speed gels well but the styles don't always. There were some moments of one guy arriving at his mark slightly ahead of the other. Cedric in his matches - every one of them so far - always finds a way to pleasantly surprise me, and another way to kind of make me curl my lip in mild annoyance. But I love Yehi as the underdog who gives every guy he faces their toughest win. If there is another CWC I have to imagine Yehi is a lock for the final 4. Some of the build to his stomps came off a little silly, and I'd rather he keep the limb stomps to a brutal part of his game. Here he missed several stops that then signaled a stop to the match, while he grinned at Cedric. It came off almost like Kamala slapping his belly. Although now thinking about it, Yehi in a racist savage gimmick with crazed stomps would probably be something that I love. Yehi going for the Koji clutch always leads to wonderful twisty moments, and here it lead to an early bit of fun slippery mat exchanges, and later Cedric using his strength to lift out of the clutch into a backcracker. Both guys land elbows with a thud, all strikes in general looked good, and Yehi matches always seem to end at the right point. Nice start to the evening.

2. Jason Cade & Darby Allin vs. The Bravado Brothers

ER: This probably would have been more effective as an extended squash for the Bravados, but it's nice they gave the local boys some time. Bravados have certainly improved some since their goofy early ROH days, they've beefed up a bit and hit harder, but still have some pacing issues. Cade and Allin looked impressive at times and too light other times. Allin broke out a pretty nice headbutt a couple times, but then had real light dropkicks. Cade's stuff was hit and miss but the hits were fun, most notably his insane leap from the ring apron to a basketball hoop into a rana on Harlem. Evolve filmed it really well, so you could really see that it wasn't just a simple hop from the apron to the hoop, it was a real leap. Awesome spot. Bravados need to stick to more simple elbows and beatdown offense, more ring cut off less feeding cute spots. But still this as a whole wasn't bad.

3. Trevor Lee vs. Matt Riddle

PAS: Really fun Riddle match which was built around him taking big bumps. Lee is at his best when he is super aggressive and he is constantly coming forward in this match. Riddle eats a couple of rail rides really nastily on his ribs and goes really high and lands really hard on a beal throw. Lee also grabs and snaps Riddle's toes which is a really nasty variation of the finger break spot which we are seeing a bunch of. Riddle working from the bottom isn't something he has done a ton of, and it really makes for an interesting contrast to his other stuff. I really loved the nasty stomp which Lee uses to take over on offense, just brutal looking as was his signature double stomp. Finish was great with Lee fighting his way into a Twister in a really cool way. Great match, and a great performance by both guys. Lee is a bit of a conundrum, I have seen some stuff I have loved, and other stuff which left me flat, feels like a guy I need to dig into a bit.

ER: I loved this, might actually be my favorite performance from each guy, which is exciting. There was really only one moment that I disliked, which was Lee having to run all the way across the apron just to get kicked/kneed by Riddle. Seemed a little silly compared to the rest of the stuff they broke out, but my god the rest of the stuff. Riddle was like a spider monkey in there, just pouncing and hanging on to Lee, and Lee was great tossing him around and beating him down. Riddle is an insane bumper (and wearing no shoes makes it even more insane, keep waiting for a toe to get caught or an ankle to roll), just insane. He gets launched practically out of the ring on a beal, takes out half the guardrails in the building in some of the most brutal rail rides I've seen, leans hard into all of Lee's kicks and punches, and is so great at return spots. I love the way Riddle sells, love the way he staggers after being walloped, love his best ever Pele kick, and loved the way he kept feeding into Lee. Both guys looked so great here. I loved that beal throw so much, and when Lee went for another one and Riddle turned it into a  backpack choke? I flipped out. Such a great spot. I actually would have loved the match had it ended right there, thought the ending would have been perfect. But I also love that we got gifted another 5 minutes of awesome.

4. Tracy Williams vs. Timothy Thatcher

ER: This was odd as the ring work was excellent, but the layout and build was lacking and disjointed. It's a tough kind of criticism, where both guys look great doing the stuff they do, and you wonder why you're not quite digging it as much as the work makes you think you should. God that was a mouthful. I just thought the build was sometimes nonexistent and it felt like it went too long. Evolve has manufactured its own brand of overkill by having so many effective 10 minute matches. They've kind of perfected the full story 8-10 minute match in the last year especially. So now two guys going out and having the same match, but for 17 minutes, almost feels ridiculous. We've seen all of these guys be put away by all of the same things, in 10 minutes, but now we're supposed to think they can each take an additional 7 minutes of it? It's a psychology that hinges on flipping a "toughness" switch for "big" matches. Turning it on for a "big" match. But the problem is they treat EVERY match like a big match. They're almost TOO good at bringing up each wrestler's history. So even a non-title match is "an important match, both men are coming off losses and each desperately needs a win to get back into contention". A non-title match with men fighting for relevance is treated as much of a worthy endeavor as a a man actually fighting for the title. So since they're ALL big matches you start wondering WHY they're now suddenly able to somehow withstand twice as much punishment.

So I thought both guys looked awesome, especially Thatcher. Thatcher has been a long favorite of mine and broke out huge in 2015. For some reason he feels like almost a back step in 2016. The matches just haven't been there. His work in this one felt like a strong mini-return. Him kicking away at Williams' arm was brutal, his rolling Karelin lifts were amazing, and all the grappling and sub stuff looked killer. I really loved the first 3 minutes of grappling especially. It was a little choppy, a little uneven, lock ups weren't square, it put off a dangerous vibe from the bell. That's the disappointing finality of the match, though. Everything looked great. The order and memory was off, but everything looked great. There was just a lot of it, and the whole match kind of felt lost in itself. It's a very tough match to rank. I could see my opinion shifting on it with every viewing. So it feels polarizing, but still feels good. I think I'm thumbs up...for now.

PAS: I enjoyed this, I admit we are getting a little filled up from this kind of match. I would have freaked out if this match had happened in 2014, but it got a little lost in the shuffle in 2016. I loved Williams in this, he had some very cool counters to counters. Thatcher would try an escape and Williams was really cool at blocking his first attempt. That is a sign of a really nifty mat wrestler. This did feel like it should have been Williams match, it built to a big win for him, so it was a bit deflating to have Thatcher go over. Still I really dug this.

5. Anthony Nese vs. TJ Perkins vs. Lince Dorado vs. Johnny Gargano vs. Drew Gulak

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 CWC 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.

ER: I think Phil is being a little harsh on this, even if it wasn't overall that 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 IS 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 over 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. Dorado 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 stuff - WAY better in some cases - than this.

6. Anything Goes: Ethan Page vs. Drew Galloway

ER: Another Evolve show, another long ass Ethan Page match. And this was okay, even if I thought there were way too many "why'd the girl run upstairs!?" horror movie spots. Page would climb a ladder to get powerbombed off it, he'd climb up stairs to tease getting thrown down them, he'd sprint headlong at Drew to get alleyooped into an Exit sign. There was wandering, but bumps on a gym floor are hard as hell and both guys took their share, so no doubt there was pain involved. We get some pretty rough chair spots, with Galloway taking a Russian leg sweep with one held under his chin, Page getting tossed throw one after a blocked cutter, Drew taking a backdrop across set up chairs, and some fun teases around Galloway piledriving him through a set up chair. So, overall it was good enough. It had moments.

7. Last Man Standing: ECIII vs. Johnny Gargano

ER: This was another one of those Gargano matches that seemed like it may have worked for the live crowd, but didn't interest me a whole lot. EC3 heels it up by going for a bunch of WWE spots, hits an Angle Slam, goes for a Pedigree (even though those are moves also done by indy favorites at one point, so....) and they try to do these weird comedy type spots while also trying to work a violent last man standing match. Gargano makes a Brother Nero joke but then also takes a pretty violent bump through a guardrail. But even the violent stuff didn't add up right. Gargano hits Carter with a bunch of chairshots but not until the ref is down, even though it's a Last Man Standing match and that shouldn't matter. And Carter doesn't ever bother to sell the chairshots anyway, so who knows. We get a series of run ins, a referee hits a stunner, so yeah. This is the way they wanted to work it, the fans seemed into it, nothing for me to see here.

Kind of a low end Evolve show based on all of the ones I've watched, but at the same time one that I didn't walk away bummed out from watching. Riddle/Lee was pretty classic, and nothing was flat out bad, so I overall had a good time. Riddle/Lee ended up landing at #16 on our 2016 MOTY List, linked below.


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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

1978 Match of the Year

Wahoo McDaniel v. Harley Race NWA Houston 2/10/78

PAS: The hidden gems unearthed from NWA Classics just keep coming. One of the coolest things about the service is that they are unearthing dream matches you never dreamed. I guess I assumed Harley Race must have defended the NWA title agains Wahoo, but that was never a match I specifically yearned to see, and bam it gets dropped on a random Wednesday. I am a bit of a Harley skeptic, but he was really great here. This was really a match of ring placement, if they were in the middle of the ring Wahoo rocked Race with big shots, he had the reach advantage and Harley couldn't hang with him. If Harley could get him to the ropes he had enough tricks to get the advantage. He would do these awesome short headbutts to both the face and the gut. When he got the advantage he landed big knees to Wahoo's gut and McDaniel sold like he ate too much BBQ. Match breaks down to a nasty slugfest with Race dripping blood out of his eye. Great nasty fist fight between two tough bastards.

ER: This is one of those "two toughest vets at the bar finally coming to blows" matches, and it's one of my favorite Race performances. Wahoo is kind of like Meng for me, in that you know he's a stone cold badass, but it doesn't always translate to interesting matches. Wahoo doesn't have the agility of some of the other violent brawlers, and he also tends to lay around a bit or ignore strikes in lieu of selling strikes. And he does that here, but I really like the way Race plays off of him, and I like the pace they work this. Both guys predictably club the hell out of each other, Harley kept jabbing at him with his big curly head, dropping knees on Wahoo's stomach, and Wahoo would land his weird elbow drops to the forehead (an elbow drop delivered almost exactly like a Dibiase fist drop), Race falls on his head getting into the ring, just tons of cool stuff. Race was a master at working a couple of near falls in this, really great at riling up the crowd by barely getting his feet on the bottom rope. In fact, he riles them up so much that by the 3rd fall one fan gets rushed and dragged out by three cops. And I get it. The third fall gets too good, with a round-the-ring brawl that sees Race take two of the best ringpost bumps this side of Lawler, the second of which busts him open and we get a fun unexpected pinfall reversal finish as Race narrowly escapes.


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Monday, November 28, 2016

DVDVR Puerto Rico 80s Set: Chicky Starr vs. Invader III (Scaffold Match) (May 1986)

Disc 2: Match 12: Chicky Starr vs. Invader III (Scaffold Match) (May 1986)

Past Flair vs Colon, I think this is the first match on the set that I'd actually seen before. At the time it was my first exposure to an Invader as an Invader and Chicky Starr being Chicky Starr. It's a special match, a unique match. The sense of danger and dread made it the first thing I thought of when watching Sasha and Charlotte almost kill each other multiple times a month ago in the cell.

Look, like a lot of people, my first scaffold match was the Great American Bash 91 monstrosity. I've written before how, during my years as a teenager not watching wrestling, a taped version of that show was the only wrestling I owned, and the scaffold match was the first thing on there, so I've seen it as many times as any other human being, I imagine. This is as far from that as possible. I'm not sure if I like it quite as much as some of the big ones out of Memphis, but that's more of a preference issue than a quality one.

They're high up. They're daring. They're absolutely Invader III and Chicky. There's an absolute joy in Chicky being up there and in danger. It's everything wonderful about sticking the manager in a cage about the ring and having him sell it as the worst thing imaginable, just made all the better by there being a scaffold instead of the cage, and having the poor bastard have to fight for his life.

There are a few definitive transitions, a few big moments, including the biggest of Chicky thinking he's won (with the crowd throwing things at him for his swagger), only for Invader to still be hanging on for his life. There are great, perilous punches, a very unlikely dropkick, and plenty of blood. There's a sense of desperate exhaustion as the match goes on, with as believable selling as you can imagine to match. It's that constant sense of danger that really puts it over the top though. They aren't just laying down. It's not a fifteen minute front facelock. There are slams and a suplex. There are stomps and kicks and bumps. At any point either of them could have put a foot the wrong place and more than the match could have been over. That they are able to utilize that as a tool and combine it with hateful biting and pounding and everything else is what makes this work as a one-of-a-kind spectacle. Everyone should see it at least once. It's pretty much the only scaffold match you ever need to see.

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Sunday, November 27, 2016

2016 Ongoing MOTY List: Togo/Speedball v. DAMNATION

28. Dick Togo/Speedball Mike Bailey v. Daisuke Sasaki/Tetsuya Endo DDT 8/28

PAS: Nifty juniors tag with Dick Togo looking fully back and fully awesome. Whole match worked at double speed, this is one of the biggest crowds Speedball has ever worked (Sumo Hall so probably 10,000+) and he is going bonkers. He has a nutso kung fu sequence with Sasaki, hits all of his crazy big spots and even gets busted open. Togo looked spectacular, he hits a crazy tope con hilo, has an awesome punch exchange with Endo and does some really great counter submission wrestling rolling around for a crossface. For a spotfest tag this is about as good as it gets. I would love to see the Togo/Speedball tag team some more, they just gel.

ER: I thought this was a little scattered, and I thought Bailey was off a bit from all the other times I've seen him, thought we got some too long move set ups, but what made this for me was just nearing 50 Dick Togo still being an incredible wrestling force. But there's more meat to the match than "great wrestler still improbably great after long layoff", we get a bunch of fun spots and a go go pace. I didn't get a big feel of DAMNATION during this, couldn't tell if they were heel or face, but when they weren't brushing hair out of their eyes they were great receivers of Togo/Speedball offense. The big flying moments were wild (Togo hits one of the topes of the year, and Bailey follows it up with a shooting star to the floor) and we get some fun strike exchanges that took me back to Low Ki/Amazing Red. But really this is all about Togo and the Togo is great. Everything he does looks fresh and has great energy, those crossfaces and STFs look brutal, his dropkicks are among the best in wrestling, and he really just looked like a guy who hasn't missed a beat while being away. His presence is still one of my favorite things in wrestling. Though I hope he bought Speedball something nice after accidentally braining him with a chair while breaking up a pin. It's gotta be a bummer to get busted open by friendly fire.



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Saturday, November 26, 2016

All Time MOTY List HEAD to HEAD Kawada v. Misawa V. Vader v. Dustin

Vader v. Dustin Rhodes WCW 11/16/94

PAS: This is one of the great short run wrestling feuds ever. As far as I know they only had three singles matches that made tape and all of them are killers. This was about as perfect a 10 minute match as you can have. Vader starts by bull rushing Dustin in the corner and popping him in the mouth a couple of times, he then spits in his face and calls him boy. Dustin takes a beat shakes off the cobwebs and burst out of the corner with a double leg takedown, he then pounds and slaps Vader in the mush even throwing his mask to the floor to paintbrush him. It was one of the greatest babyface explosions I can remember seeing, timed perfectly, great emotional acting by both guys and a great violent climax. The whole match was full of cool moments like that, Vader was throwing some of those brutal looking hammer shots in the corner, they were almost as nasty looking as the shots which concussed Cactus Jack. It was basically Vader wearing down Dustin with Dustin finding moments to explode, including DDT Vader off the second rope and catching a flying splash with a powerslam. Finish had Vader smashing Dustin into Harley Race and then catching him with a reverse powebomb.

ER: This is basically the perfect match for me, and arguably the closest to perfect 10 minute match in wrestling history. And 10 minute matches are basically my favorite thing in wrestling. But this is just perfection. Vader is a beast, but Dustin is a freaking giant manchild too and thankfully they never work this as a big man/little man match, we just get a giant man being more aggressive out of the gate, and another giant man scrambling to keep up. Vader pounces and smacks him around in that way that Vader does and even tells him that this won't be a tea party. And Dustin's double leg is so great as we don't expect it, Vader doesn't expect it, and the fans live don't expect it. Watch the arena erupt as Dustin takes it to Vader, they just can't stay seated. Dustin looks like he's making up his whole beatdown on the fly, smacking Vader around, jumping up and doing a big butt splash, really just going crazy with his newly afforded control, and him smashing Vader to the floor with a lariat was HUGE. Phil calls it the greatest babyface explosion he can remember seeing, and I fully agree. The acting by both was great and right away this whole match felt special. Things started looking pretty hopeless for Dustin once Vader took back over, starting to look like the beginning of a long slow march to doom for Dustin. And then that freaking powerslam spot. Wow. That's one of the most incredible spots I've ever seen. Vader fully commits to hitting a giant corner splash, and Dustin somehow caught him. And Dustin VERY easily could not have caught him, and then what!? Vader got such crazy height that he was OVER the top rope when Dustin caught him. If Dustin botched the catch then Vader may have gone tumbling all the way over the turnbuckle to the floor, snapping Dustin in half in the process. Both men are at the absolute peak of their abilities here. Vader is larger than at other parts of his career, but picks all the best times to bump. Dustin really was a natural and knew exactly when to cash in his comebacks. Vader catching a bulldog and launching Dustin to the floor was such a big moment, and Heenan was smart to point out how smart Vader was to recognize the ref was still distracted, allowing him to throw Dustin over that top tope. Actually it needs to be said that Heenan and Schiavone were really really good throughout this whole match. Heenan wasn't trying to wedge in Borscht belt yuks and Schiavone was reacting like a fan, and both were quick to point out strategies that both men should employ. Harley Race also was still crazy enough to bump around and he took a few big ones, all to the floor. This match was all peak, all timed perfectly, all worked perfectly. A true gem in wrestling history.

Misawa v. Kawada review


PAS: I loved this match so much, Misawa v. Kawada has some fat in it, while this is nothing but hits. I could see this topping out a bunch of other years, but the apex of All Japan style eeks it out. I had to think for awhile about it though.

ER: As much as I didn't think it would happen, I would pick Dustin/Vader. Not to be dramatic, but I actually even "slept on it" I was so torn. And in the end it comes down to a style preference. The matches on an island are too difficult for me to compare. They are both colossal achievements. And this match is "newer" to me, which muddies the waters somewhat. But this match is basically all of the things I want and love about wrestling: a big fat guy, wild brawling, no bloat, making the most out of the time allotted, big bumps, and just great moments. This match was perfection, to me. BUT, I fully see where Phil is coming from, and for a challenger to take the title it's going to need the vote from both of us. So Misawa/Kawada - deservedly - retains.

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Friday, November 25, 2016

2016 Ongoing MOTY List: Killshot v. Matanza

44. Killshot v. Matanza Lucha Underground 3/26 (Aired 10/19)

ER: I think this has to be the best possible Killshot match we can hope for. He's stumbly and doesn't really get nuanced selling, but his comebacks were built nicely into the match, and Matanza crushed him when he needed to. Matanza started by just steamrolling him, as he should, and I loved Killshot escaping a possible suplex by grabbing onto Matanza's fingers and bending them back. That makes a helluva lot of sense. He gets too cute and tries headbutting the monster, and that awesomely leads to Cobb throwing his great thrust headbutt, and then his awesome deadlift ragdoll suplex. I wish Killshot didn't almost immediately come back after taking those two moves, but it least he came back by Matanza running headlong into Killshot's boots in the corner. It wasn't like Killshot just got up and went on offense. The top rope teases were all good, with Matanza catching him up top, and teasing a freaking tombstone off the middle rope, and I loved how Matanza got kicked into and trapped into the ropes, and that DDT he took was sick. The whole sequence looked really good. But Matanza is too much for Killshot, blasts him with an awesome running uppercut and splats him into the mat off his powerslam. Match went the perfect amount of time, and I really loved how it was structured.

PAS: Pretty surprised that I enjoyed this as much as I did. This felt like the perfect amount of selling for Matanza to do, other points of his LU run he has either sold too little or too much, but this was the Goldilocks middle bear performance. I thought the squash parts of this match were pretty violent, and the nature of the match kept Killshot from doing too much dumb shit. His two moments of offense were pretty fun, loved the finger break counter of the suplex and the rope trap was a little convoluted, but ended great.  He got a moment or two, and then got smashed.


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Thursday, November 24, 2016

DVDVR Puerto Rico 80s Set: Carlos Colon and The Invaders vs. Abdullah the Butcher, Chicky and Ron Starr (4/26/86)

Disc 2, Match 11: Carlos Colon and The Invaders vs. Abdullah the Butcher, Chicky and Ron Starr (4/26/86)

I liked this a lot. It was very solid for what it was and felt like, maybe, the biggest, most important match on the disc up until now, just a battle of the Titans (if one of the Titans was Chicky Starr somehow) in a big stadium. Colon and the Invaders feels like a natural pairing. Abdullah and Chicky/Ron does not, but that makes it all the better in some ways. One of my favorite things in wrestling is weird tag partners interacting. I love it when Kamala is in Mexico and his own partners have to make sense of him. And I love this too. 

Certainly, they used Abdullah well. He was more or less a non-factor in the shine, a prop at times to hold someone to allow for heel miscommunication or to be a target for a fiery babyface while on the apron. When Chicky and Ron were hugging and consoling each other after the initial exchange didn't go well, he's nowhere to be seen (Invader I charged in from offscreen to break up the hug though, which wa great). It's only after the heels take over with a low headbutt that he came in and asserted himself, suddenly the large wall that Invader III had to climb in order to make it to his corner.

Invader III is a good face in peril, but he's not as interestingly aggressive as Colon, and certainly not as serene as Invader I, so it's a bit of a shame he was tagged with that role here. I don't think he fought back quite enough, to be honest. I didn't mind it all that much because the heels were so entertaining while in control. Ron's offense looked great, specifically here his high knee, bulldog, and butterfly suplex. Invader III's stumble fall into the hot tag was well timed, if not entirely earned, and the crowd went nuts for it. 

I thought the finish was absurdly flat however. We've seen these wars where Abdullah and Colon just can't put each other away. I had a real hard time believing that Colon could down him (when he'd barely been touched all match) with just one move. Past that, and the fact I wanted to see just a little more character interactions between Abdullah and the Starrs, this was a fun one.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Brian Kendrick Really Gotta Bite

Brian Kendrick vs. Kyle O'Reilly QPW 2/1/14 - REALLY GOOD

ER: I really liked this. Kendrick is not wrestling like his CWC self, but he's good at doing what he's doing. O'Reilly can be annoying, but he's less annoying in this match (except for the parts where he's really annoying). The opening lock ups were really fun, much different from the Catch Point style that we've been getting used to over the last year plus, this was more exaggerated and showy, but still tough; a lot of bullying around and nice strength tests, but played large. O'Reilly works a snug side headlock and they do some fun work around that (though get a little too cute with a loop of missed splash/slip out of headlock). Kendrick commits to things in fun ways, like flinging his whole body into an armdrag but spinning himself into the mat because O'Reilly held onto the ropes. The best parts are when Kendrick starts yanking on O'Reilly's arm, bending and twisting and working some nasty holds. At one point he picks up the arm by the wrist and just stomps it to the mat. All the arm work was killer. And O'Reilly is good at selling it, in the moment. But it kind of predictably gets dropped, and shoot O'Reilly even wins with his own armbar using his MY ARM arm. O'Reilly is just frustrating as hell, as a lot of his simple grappling looks good. I really loved his headlock variations, the standing one, the bulldog choke he locks on, but he does too much klutzy Johnny Saint kind of stuff, with leapfrogs and crawling between legs and most of it looks bad. His repertoire needs a trimming. Some of that stuff could of derailed things, but I think it points to Kendrick's strengths that he was able to take the stuff straight and not let things devolve. Overall I thought it was really satisfying despite O'Reilly's faults, but the potential was there for this to be really great.

Brian Kendrick/Noam Dar vs. Sin Cara/Rich Swann (WWE Raw 11/7/16) - FUN

Kind of a waste of 4 minutes. Kendrick isn't really a major part of the match as he does a little cheating behind the ref's back, but for the most part it's the Noam Dar show. I get it, they're in Scotland and shoot if you're going to use Dar then use him in Scotland. But the guy isn't ready for prime time. He'll throw a nice kick to the shins or a nice uppercut, but it will be offset by really bad strike combos and cutesy horseshit. This match was more about a nice little Sin Cara statement performance. Cara has been a man with no place on the roster for some time, and even him in the Cruiser division seems a TNAish move for both sides (Cruisers get a guy with a "not a star" stigma suddenly treated like a star, Cara gets demoted and has to be cool with it) but if he comes into the division with this attitude then I'm game. Him deadlifting Dar in a powerbomb was cool and then him breaking out the rolling senton to the floor was sick. Match had zero build and ended sudden, but it had a couple moments.

Brian Kendrick vs. Sin Cara (WWE Raw 11/14/16) - FUN

If asked several months ago if I thought Brian Kendrick would be getting 10+ minute matches on Raw, nobody would have seen that coming. So here he is, and it's weird and kind of awesome. But it's also been just kinda hung right out to fucking dry. Here he gets a long match on Raw, right before Brock and Godlberg are set to come out and be all big buff not cruiserweights. So this match gets a ton of time, and the crowd predictably treats it like they've gone to see their favorite band and they're now enduring an awful unannounced opener. There were plenty of cool things buried in here, even as the crowd was openly shitting on it. Cara had a great showing last week and sadly didn't really have that aggression this week. Our dreams of Cara shooting on live TV are quickly vanishing. But Kendrick dishes out some fun hockey punches and short knees, and takes a big bump to the floor to set up a nice Cara dive. I love how Kendrick smashes himself into the ring barrier. And later this sets up Cara getting ole'd into that barrier on a second attempt. Loved Kendrick's big bump to the floor off a clothesline. Kendrick takes all of Cara's offense nicely and is overly generous, really letting Cara show off his moveset. Nice northern lights, tilt a whirl backbreaker, springboard back elbow. really he kind of owns the last several minutes. Finish is an awesome modern Kendrick touch, with him getting desperate and twisting Cara's mask sideways (hinted at a bit earlier when he was yanking at it) and locking on the bully choke. Finish was really cool but the announce team was shitty during it, really reading it wrong and calling it in bizarre dead Owen voice like it was a grave tragedy. "Look at the mask of Sin Cara, look at how Kendrick twisted it," said in these weird somber tones. Shame.


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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

2002 Match of the Year

Low-Ki v. American Dragon JAPW 6/7/02

PAS: This was the matchup which defined indy wrestling in the early 2000s. Their final of the Super 8 was probably the beginning of the athletic NJ juniors style of wrestling which would be the house style of dream match indy wrestling and is currently the house style of WWE main events. They were in the final of APW King of the Indies which was the tourney that Meltzer claimed inspired Rob Feinstein to launch ROH (I call BS on that, as ROH was mostly JAPW and USA Pro dudes, and RF was taping JAPW shows at the time), and they main evented the second ROH show. For such an influential matchup, it really didn't happen that many times and this was one of the lower profile examples (and the only one outside WWE development I didn't go to live).

This is a tap out match, and thus the majority of it is worked on the mat and it is some beautiful interesting innovative violent grappling. This was more BattlArts then Shinjiro Ohtani, which is always going to hit my wrestling soft spot. This might of been the peak of grappling Danielson, he works a ton of different counters and approaches to submission, he does these crazy hybrid lucha and shootstyle submissions, at one point he uses a rocking chair and turns it into a rear naked choke. Ki was less innovative, but no less skilled, I loved how he used short up kicks to keep an advantage, we have some nasty kicks and chops by Ki, but Dragon wins the violence contest by hitting Ki with some jaw loosening crossfaces. The parts that aren't grappling are fine, but not essential, but the mat attacks here were so awesome, and really made me wish that wrestling went in this direction.

ER: This was such an exciting time in my wrestling viewing life, and my life in general. A year + prior to this match I had been turned onto Low-Ki by Phil's comp tape of him, I'd been buying tapes of TWA TV for the American Dragon and Spanky matches (and the Shooter Schultz matches, which are words that wouldn't make sense to most current wrestling fans), and then finally got to see all of them live and wrestling each other at King of the Indies, a show that Phil and I each attended separately, before we knew each other (also, I believe the KOI begets ROH claim is that Feinstein wanted to take all of these "tourney" big names and just construct the roster out of them, using them not as special attractions but instead as the main guys on every show; dream matches as regular matches).

Local boy Mike Modest was my favorite indy wrestler in the world at this point, followed by Danielson, Ki and Christopher Daniels. Some of those choices have aged well, some haven't. But this match right here hasn't aged a damn bit. If anything it still feels fresh and as innovative as anything currently out there. There's things in this match that would look crazy in a Volk Han match from 8 years before, and things that look crazy in 2016. And none of it comes off as jerk off flash. It's nasty as hell, no exhibition fluff here, and it all flows organically and violently. This was probably my favorite era of Danielson, which sounds crazy, as he went so many places and worked everyone in the next 15 years, but this Danielson? This is a Danielson I could've grown old watching. What a monster! Ki has a way of bullying his way through matches, and Danielson is having none of it. He breaks out an absolutely sick STF and one of the coolest subs I've seen, where he gets Ki in an Indian deathlock/bow and arrow, and then rolls through it, and it looks like it's turning Ki inside out. The attack just keeps up and Ki has weird little counters you don't see, like when Danielson has him in a cravate and Ki uses his short attack kick strength to kick Danielson in the face. He's doing this...while he's in a cravate! The ring positioning and use of rope breaks is killer, and the wild positions and situations they'd wind up in had me hooked. I love Danielson finally deciding to go for throws, launching Ki with some brutal, fast germans and planting him with a dragon suplex, but then that same standing grappling and throws lead to Ki grabbing a slick and almost desperate standing armbar, and it rules. I love this.


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Monday, November 21, 2016

Lucha Underground Season 3 Episode 7: Payback Time

1. Matanza vs. Killshot

ER: I think this has to be the best possible Killshot match we can hope for. He's stumbly and doesn't really get nuanced selling, but his comebacks were built nicely into the match, and Matanza crushed him when he needed to. Matanza started by just steamrolling him, as he should, and I loved Killshot escaping a possible suplex by grabbing onto Matanza's fingers and bending them back. That makes a helluva lot of sense. He gets too cute and tries headbutting the monster, and that awesomely leads to Cobb throwing his great thrust headbutt, and then his awesome deadlift ragdoll suplex. I wish Killshot didn't almost immediately come back after taking those two moves, but it least he came back by Matanza running headlong into Killshot's boots in the corner. It wasn't like Killshot just got up and went on offense. The top rope teases were all good, with Matanza catching him up top, and teasing a freaking tombstone off the middle rope, and I loved how Matanza got kicked into and trapped into the ropes, and that DDT he took was sick. The whole sequence looked really good. But Matanza is too much for Killshot, blasts him with an awesome running uppercut and splats him into the mat off his powerslam. Match went the perfect amount of time, and I really loved how it was structured.

MD: Yeah, ok. So this was good enough that, between this and the Marty match, I'm now questioning if Killshot is actually as bad as we thought he was. It doesn't mean that he's not, probably, the worst guy in the roster in the multi-man spot-driven matches, but he was able to do a bs-laden brawl building to big moments with Marty, and here he was able to do an underdog match vs a monster well. I think the guy just needs some contrast, which can be a real problem in Lucha Underground sometimes (see the next match). What I liked out of him the most in this one was the detail work. He came in selling the damage from the WMD match, weeks later, got his advantages with little things, like snatching a finger or kicking out a leg, and was constantly fighting out of everything that Matanza was trying to do with him, throwing shots and making Matanza early his big moves. That's the way to look strong in defeat and to look the person who beat you look even stronger. That sequence ending with the DDT was especially great. I think it actually put a smile on my face which was a weird feeling for a Killshot match.

ER: Any good will Killshot gained in the match is immediately forgotten as AR Fox debuts and Killshot does this hilarious Helen Keller selling by feeling his face and body.

MD: I'm going to just forget about the post match, but pro wrestlers no selling hugs is always kind of funny visually.

2. Fenix vs. Aerostar vs. Drago

ER: This had moments but really just made me want to see Fenix/Drago. Aerostar is one of the most creative and gifted high flyers in wrestling history, but here he looked flat out bad, and unsure of himself. In stunt work they say the second you start thinking too much, is the second you get hurt. Well Aerostar looked like he was thinking too much the entire match, making guys wait around for preposterous amounts of time before hitting his moves, some of which weren't worth the wait. One of the amusing things about him is not ever knowing how he's going to land even while he's in mid air. He has a way of flipping the script and landing a weird armdrag when you're expecting a mere body press. But here he just slowed down the action. Fenix looked great and it's incredible how much he's improved since the start of LU. 3 ways almost always stink but here he was really great glue, knowing when to change the pace, knowing when to break things up, he's been great in everything the last year. Here he gets his nose busted (I missed when it happened) and came back into the ring spitting blood after hitting a boss superkick. All of his stuff really hits flush and his base work is awesome. He's really becoming a guy I'd like to see match up with anybody.

MD: My favorite thing about LU is that every match has stakes. Every match has purpose. That was a saving grace here, because this was sort of frustrating. On the one hand, I really do just want to see Aerostar do spots. I think a trios place is a more natural one than this though. I didn't notice him dragging things down as much as Eric did, but this sort of match just isn't a good thing in general. There wasn't a lot of weight to anything in it except for Fenix's bloody face. That's true for the multitude of superkicks, for the double submission (and the weird Rey Bucanero reference by Striker), the insane double stomp to the back of Drago's head. It was a lot of noise and a lot of kick outs and a lot of guys recovering from really nasty stuff too soon. It should be noted that you can't take anyone out in a match like this unless you do some sort of flipping headdrop.

ER: So apparently there is a centuries old tribe of just every kind of reptile person? As I look at my old V lunchbox with Marc Singer, the math on this does start to check out. We also get Vinny Massaro re-debuting, eating pizza in a bathroom. It's awesome to see him on TV. I've been seeing him work indies for practically 20 years now. His jobber work in season 1 was really good, though they're kind of getting to the point where it seems like they are introducing new characters every week, but still having matches with the same people every week.

MD: I am all about the Cobra Moon/Drago interaction though. I started to try to mentally work out the different tribes in my head for a minute before giving up. I really hope there's a series bible somewhere with all of them listed out though. I'm glad Eric knows who the pizza guy was, because I didn't. I'm not sure we need Bastion Booger levels of humor in 2016 though.

3. Mil Muertes vs. Prince Puma

ER: It took awhile, but we finally get our first classic LU match of the 3rd season. And probably their best match since the Cuerno/Muertes death match. Hmmmm what's the constant variable here? This is really Muertes' first match of the season (there was a short Argenis squash several weeks prior) and it's great, and really he's never looked better in a LU ring. This whole thing was tightly worked, super fast paced and flat out exhausting. Muertes does a couple things in this match that I never realized I wanted, like stopping the momentum on a Puma handstand headscissors and just lobbing a brutal knee to Puma's stomach. They worked this like two men familiar with each other, and it benefitted from that. Muertes knew Puma's tricks more than anybody yet, and Muertes wasn't going easy on him. Muertes worked at practically the same speed as Puma which is insanely impressive. Loved Puma dodging out of a running Muertes to send him to the floor, and then hitting two of his wild dives. But again, Muertes' offense (to me) looked as good as it's ever looked, and he just levels Puma with a spear and then pops him with a straight right and then punches him up the seats through the Believers. Muertes' strikes were on point and as he cockily stomps back to the floor, and then Puma flips out the crowd by leaping from the back row down the stairs and crashing through Mil. The stuff in ring was tight, loved the finish run with Muertes missing the post charge, and getting his head kicked into the post to KO him for the 630. Puma gets his big comeback win, and suddenly I'm more hyped about LU again (even though I really just want Muertes working singles main events every week).

MD: If Lucha Underground had a well-defined main event house style, this would probably be it and this would be a solid TV match within its confines. There feels like a bit of repetition between Muertes and Matanza where the early chunk of their matches (the shine, I suppose) consists of the babyface trying to figure out how to chip away at them. Here, Puma used his superior speed and agility to dodge moves and keep an advantage. Finally, he got a little cute with it and flipped off the guard rail right into a spear (I'm not calling it the Reaper's Trident). Muertes then put a beating on him (heat), including the fun visual of battering him up the stairs. He got distracted by the stone, Puma leaped off on them and then they went to bomb-throwing for the rest of it. I can't get over how amazing Muertes' cut off punch is. The twisting chokeslam is great too. That's why the flatliner is so frustrating as a finisher. It's got a cute name but almost everything he does is better and more fitting the character than that. I liked this ending with Puma dodging a big shot in the corner once again (and it's nice that he dodged a spear because that was how Muertes took over in the first place). I thought this was pretty good for what it was, but I did sort of feel like a roadmark to a bigger payoff.

MD: Chavo Classic is always great to see. I've spent a lot of time with him on NWAOnDemand lately including the amazing Sheepherders vs Guerreros match. I do get a bit of a kick out of the "Mexico Remembers" stuff. I guess he has a lot of faith in Aiden English siring the next member of the Guerrero wrestling family. I thought this segment worked and it upped the stakes.  Boy do I ever love stakes.

ER: And I appreciate Matt making me google that Aiden English is in fact married to Shaul Guerrero.  Good for him! (Aiden English, not Matt)


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Sunday, November 20, 2016

WWE Survivor Series 2016 (Not Quite) Live Blog

Saw some friends in town from Australia and got momentarily obsessed with the new show The Killing Season, so got home a little after the show started, but I'm here now and starting it from the beginning! Brand supremacy is incredibly stupid!

1. Ariya Daivari, Drew Gulak & Tony Nese vs. Rich Swann, Noam Dar & TJ Perkins

Still a bummer we don't get Gallagher and have been getting Dar, but at least Gallagher's picture has been in the 205 Live lineup. Pre-PPV matches always have a hot crowd because people are just excited to see live wrestling, and this match is immediately ice cold. People DO NOT care about the cruiserweight division, likely because they threw all of these guys onto TV cold and just said "here are cruiserweights!!!" The word "cruiserweight" probably doesn't even mean a whole lot to most current fans. They weren't the ones whining about the nWo interrupting WCW lucha matches 20 years ago. And this match is weird. They're presented as cruiserweights but then they go out there and put on a standard WWE TV match with guys being put into arm locks that won't go anywhere. The whole thing was pretty flat. Gulak did things I liked, but he doesn't have the flash to get over in a 6 man like this. Dar shows us how bad of a catcher he is, the ref stops TJ doing a dive for no reason whatsoever, Swann hits the ugliest standing 450 that he's ever hit. This whole thing shouldn't get anybody excited for 205 Live, which is a shame.

2. Kane vs. Luke Harper

Oooooo a bonus kickoff match! And Kane hits the chinlock to start the match! This whole thing is pretty chinlock-y. Harper gets some moments of nice clubbing, some neat short knees to Kane's head, a big senton that the crowd dug. Kane is pretty sluggish here. Realllly going through some motions. JBL makes a dud of a Walking Dead reference. This was a lot of nothing and naturally you gotta keep Kane strong. He looked really really slow and bad here.

3. Bayley, Alicia Fox, Nia Jax, Sasha Banks & Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch, Naomi, Alexa Bliss, Carmella & Natalya

I think most of this PPV will be individual entrances. Nikki was attacked backstage by an unknown assailant (maybe the return of Midnight!?!?) and replaced by Natalya. Natalya and Nikki confuse me, because I watch Total Divas with Rachel, and that has to be a scripted show. But in these backstage "acting" segments both (especially Natalya) are such terrible actresses, in a way that never shows up on Total Divas. Are the situations scripted and not actual words? Because Nattie is completely unconvincing whenever she has to act. I didn't really get into this match until the Carmella/Fox segment, oddly. I liked the way they matched up. Bliss hits a neat moonsault to quickly eliminate Foxy though. I like Jax but man was it a dumb choice for her to wear a big red Raw shirt. Couldn't they have just made her some red accessories for her outfit? Her and Naomi match up nice with Nia absorbing a big crossbody to the floor, and Naomi bumping big on the floor as Jax destroys her. I do hate how these eliminations just come so quickly. Natalya is really getting the weird push suddenly, with her just steamrolling Sasha and then dominating Charlotte, until Charlotte hit one kick to eliminate her. Really hard to get too into this match where every single pairing has just ended with someone getting eliminated. Hardly any tag outs or drama, just new pairing, new elimination. Becky takes an eternity to set up an armbar and somehow Jax just taps to it. Man this match is really bad. No flow whatsoever. Bliss gets eliminate as I type that. This suuuuuucks. Half the stuff Lynch does looks really good. She always throws a nice legdrop (all the variations), some of her suplexes are great. But sometimes her move set up can take an eternity. The Bayley to Belly really did not look like a "killshot" move. Lynch took like 90% of their segment together and Bayley just wins the match with one suplex. This was terrible. I've made a terrible choice.

4. The Miz vs. Sami Zayn

This is a real nice, hot match. I don't love either guy but they're matching up really well in this one. The small knee selling work is good and Zayn ramps up the selling after hitting a Blue Thunder Bomb. Maryse interjecting herself on the floor was great and her work and timing as a second is always worth watching. She knows when to hold back and has great reactions (her whipping her arm around while Miz is locking on the figure 4 is Wendell Kim-esque in it's animated excitement). Zayn locking on the figure 4 was a little clunky, with Miz pulling his own leg into position to help him out and we all knew there would be some sort of masturbatory '97 reference on this show, because they can't help themselves. If there HAD to be an SS97 spot this was probably the best case scenario, as the cut over to Maryse ringing it was great. Overall match was good. But damn at this point I'm pretty sure they just book shows in Canada so that they can rub the SS97 finish in their face. They're like a guy who had awful 90 second teenage summer camp sex with a girl who then sends her a letter every couple years reminding her of it.

5. Enzo Amore & Big Cass/The Shining Stars/Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows/Sheamus & Cesaro/New Day vs. Heath Slater & Rhyno/Breezango/Usos/Hype Bros/American Alpha

I don't mind Enzo and Cass yammering on for several minutes, as it allows me to FF with zero hesitation and attempt to get closer to live. Cesaro's dinner jacket/carnation look amazing, but he really needs that shit to be tearaway. Who takes a jacket off over their head? I like whenever Michael Cole slips up and says "Hype Brothers", but sadly he's not on commentary here. I don't know why it makes me laugh. Is there an ECW chant? We immediately start with two different eliminations. "This changes everything!!" Probably not. Gallows punches in the corner on Mojo looked really great, and Anderson throws an awesome knee to Ryder's face. Gallows and Anderson appear to get better as WWE's interest in them gets lesser. These matches are the pits with all the fast eliminations. How are these pins not being broken up!? Everybody has fucking 8 partners just standing there watching. And they all look like total goobers in their branded shirts. Primo does a cool weird bump in the corner that ends with his leg getting hooked. Man the way every single person tonight is getting eliminated after one move of offense, I'd be terrified to get in the ring. Does everybody have a fucking bus to catch or something? Slater's stage dive off the top looked great. But it's really hard to care about any of this. Not one once of psychology. I much rather would have seen a normal tag match between any of these teams. Usos vs. Sheamus/Cesaro for 10 minutes would be really good. Almost none of this match was good.

6. Kalisto vs. Brian Kendrick

Really fun start to this one, especially the "Kendrick using environment" spots: Holding onto ropes, the funky schoolboy into the bottom turnbuckle, kicking Kalisto's trapped body in the ring steps, but really anything he does has looked good. Kendrick breaks out a nasty back suplex and a cravate, and I loved Kalisto's fast head and arm drag to try and shake the cravate. Kendrick makes leg kicks look good and is really smart with his rope usage without getting cutesy. And then they break out the Spanish Fly from the apron which is pretty crazy, and then Kendrick catches Kalisto's tope in a really awesome way, just completely getting barreled over. This is really fun. This is really a PPV with some fun singles matches and horrible multimans. Damn that headlock takeover to set up the bully choke was sick. Really got into all of Kendrick's choke, with Kalisto gamely fighting to the ropes. Kendrick looks really great in this, even landing a vicious diving axe handle. When was the last time you saw a nasty axe handle? Kalisto's offense is really benefitting from Kendrick too. Nobody whips their head into the mat for Kalisto's kneeling rana quite like Kendrick. Well, that finish blew and I was not expecting to see Kendrick win. So the cruisers are staying on Raw....but 205 Live will be taped after Smackdown? How will any of that work?

7. Shane MacMahon, Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton, AJ Styles & Dean Ambrose vs. Braun Strowman, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Chris Jericho & Kevin Owens

They're starting this off really slow which makes me think this is getting way more time than the other (terrible) elimination matches. Not tons to comment on at first, except for Shane's goofiest punches ever. It was nice to see Jericho's missile dropkick catch Shane right in the jaw. He is far and away the easiest guy to root against in this match. Is windbreaker pants really the best he can do for ring gear? How is the casual fan supposed to feel about him? He's supposed to be some kind of legend, right? Yuck. Ambrose hits a really nice lariat on Owens, then whiffs by a few feet on a tope that I think was supposed to not whiff. Styles hits a pretty wild flying elbow to the floor, Owens hits a nice fat guy senton to the floor and eats a back breaker over the barrier. This is actually pretty fun. Strowman kicks Shane in the face and I love it. Shane almost hangs himself clotheslining Braun over. Looked sloppy as hell, but the sloppiness gave it a nice reckless feel. Oh my but those Shane punches in the corner are the shittiest. Graves sucks the company dick and calmly puts over all the time Shane spends in the boxing gym. Good lord Braun tries to murder AJ by throwing him over the top to the floor, and either threw him too short or too far and AJ takes a nutso bump rolling over the top rope backwards to the floor. Good gravy. Much as I will continue to root against him, Shane's elbow through Braun on the announce table looked awesome, and Ellsworth grabbing Braun's leg to keep him out of the ring was a pretty clever way to keep Braun strong-yet-eliminated, and about the best use of Ellsworth. Also a good use of Ellsworth, having Braun launch him off the ramp through a table. Why were there pizza boxes on a table next to the entrance ramp? Who was just sitting there eating pizza and couldn't clean up his garbage? Somebody on the ring crew is going to have to leave an anonymous comic sans note asking people to clean up after themselves.

Shane commits on a missed dropkick and nicely sneaks in knees to counter a Lionsault. His timing on getting the knees up was really good. Damn Jericho slamming AJ's head into the mat looked nasty, just grabbing him by the hair and violently slamming the back of his head into the mat. The stuff with the clipboard was all realllllly stupid. The match goes 30 minutes with only 2 eliminations, and two guys go out because of the clipboard. That's really dumb you guys. Fuck I hate that I've actually liked a lot of Shane's stuff in this match. He's eaten several nice Reigns punches, and then flies wildly off the top rope into a spear. Though Reigns wasn't totally accounting for the weight and almost spiked his own head. It looked like Shane nailed him with a DDT. Oh, and they're sort of selling it that way, so that works for me. Some of his awful punches aside, Shane has clearly looked better than Rollins in this match, at minimum. Orton has been in like 30 seconds of this now 40+ minute match. I've actually been surprisingly into this whole match but it's finally starting to drag for me. But that's okay because it's over!! It looks like this has been getting pretty roundly shit on, and yeah there really wasn't any psychology outside of "These guys were randomly picked to be on one show, these were picked to be on the other show, they have zero alliances, but this time it counts!!!" So that's really stupid. Nobody actually cares about "brand supremacy". And yes a lot of this was constructed as valiant hero Shane fighting the odds. But I thought this was totally fine. Long as hell, but I was never bored. Not glowing praise I know, but this was definitely not as bad as some are making it out to be.

8. Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg

I understand the modern medical age we live in, but I still am amazed that 50 year old Goldberg looks essentially the same as he did 16 years ago. Goatee is whiter. That's it. I'm kind of foolishly excited for this one. And HOLY SHIT THEY BOOKED A SQUASH!! THAT was not the finish I was expecting. The whole build up I've been asking "how is a 50 year old who hasn't worked in 12 years going to get thrown around by Lesnar??" and then they go and have Goldberg squash him. Two spears, jackhammer, done. I'm kind reeling, and don't totally know if this was the stupidest way to book this, or the smartest. Lesnar has dominated almost everybody for 18 months, and now a guy who hasn't wrestled in 12 years beats him in 90 seconds. This has to send a terrible message to every single full time wrestler. BUT it also kind of makes sense that the first big Lesnar loss in ages would come in Warrior/Honky Tonk fashion. Just totally surprise Lesnar and mow through him, don't let him even get to suplex city. BUT then you go right back to thinking that there were other guys that are actually ON the roster that they could have booked to do that. This program is over, right? Goldberg isn't sticking around? So does Lesnar go back to dominating the actual roster and they just stop talking about how Goldberg came back, squashed him, and now Lesnar is right back to being better than the regular roster? I don't know!!! It seems kind of dumb and kind of hilarious but was also kind of awesome. I bet nobody was expecting this finish, which is amusing and I was certainly left with my jaw dropped. They built this up for like 2 months!! And then it takes 90 seconds and they go "Thanks for watching, universe!!" This is like one of those UFC fights that get 24/7 type specials, crazy build up, and then someone catches a high kick one minute in. So ridiculous.

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Saturday, November 19, 2016

All Time MOTY List HEAD to HEAD Honda/Inoue v. Hash/Yasuda V. Kawada/Araya v. Fuchi/Tenryu

Genichiro Tenryu/Masa Fuchi v. Toshiaki Kawada/Nobutaka Araya AJPW 6/30/01

Phil and Childs talked about this match on Digging in the Crates

ER: Neat tag that was right smack dab in the days of me diving headlong into my love of Japanese wrestling. I first saw it a few years before and by 2001 I was in love and following every fed. In the NOAH exodus I was loving the return of Tenryu and the rise of Fuchi, back from opening match purgatory. And it's kind of weird, as Araya and Tenryu are the WAR guys, Kawada and Fuchi are the AJ guys, so you'd expect the teams to line up that way. But they opt for the maybe more intriguing old guys vs. younger guys, and it's all about Tenryu and Fuchi breaking down Araya. Kawada seemed a little off in the match, compared to his standards, so it really hinged on Araya's performance as a bullied youngster, and he totally pulled it off. The whole thing is a fairly genial tag match for the first few minutes, with everyone facing off and lightly pushing each other around and tagging out. The same thing is happening with Tenryu and Araya, when with no warning Tenryu literally just punches Araya in the eye. Just right in the eye. Araya goes down and immediately is bleeding out of the eyebrow. And from there we get Tenryu and Fuchi attempting (and often succeeding) to pick on him. All the great moments are when Araya would be getting chopped and punched and would just muscle through it, really forcing you to get behind him. Tenryu was such a surly badass and I flipped whenever Araya would go chest to chest with him, or fire back, or run him over with a shoulderblock.  Kawada does a decent job trying to keep the wolves away and Fuchi seems like a guy trying to avoid Kawada, and we get some great moments of Kawada and Tenryu lacing into each other. Those Tenryu chops never looked finer, and he ate some kicks to the nose and sold an early Kawada enziguiri great (I think Tenryu sold shots to the back of the head and piledrivers better than anybody), and later hit his own enziguiri. Tenryu's old man enziguiri was always a favorite of mine, as the person on the receiving end always looked like someone getting a sack of concrete dropped onto their neck and shoulders. Araya don't let his bum eye get him down and the build to him and Fuchi each going for broke is fun, with Fuchi hitting an awesome back suplex to reverse an Araya moonsault, before eventually succumbing to that moonsault. This was just as simple and satisfying now as it was when I saw it 15 years ago.

PAS: On paper it looks like Araya is the weak link in this match, but this was a performance that should have made him a superstar. Tenryu is such a mean fucker, he brings his buddy over from WAR and decides for shits and giggles to split his eye open. Tenryu and Fuchi are the two best guys in wrestling history to be on the opposite side of a leaking eyebrow. We get some great Kawada v. Tenryu sections but that was an appetizer to the Araya show. I loved him fighting through pain and going toe to toe with Tenryu and Fuchi and the final moonsault to win was a great moment.

Honda/Inoue v. Hash/Yasuda Review


ER: Real fun tag, but it didn't have quite the hate and intensity of that NOAH/Z-1 tag, so I think that one still reigns supreme.

PAS: It's pretty close, I really enjoyed this match, but it needed a bit more Kawada intensity, outside of a couple of exchanges with Tenryu he kind of sat this out. I am going with the Z1 tag too.

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Friday, November 18, 2016

Big Time Wrestling TV 9/9/16

1. Sage Sin vs. Womankind (7/15/16)

Well this was a travesty in many ways. I have to wonder why BTW even wanted to air this match. Some things are better left being unseen by as many eyes as possible, and this match was one of them. Sage Sin is a worker I'd never seen before, with a cool goth jack-o-lantern look. Womankind is...sigh...a woman working a Mick Foley-as-Mankind gimmick. She wore the same outfit as Mankind, did the same moves, and even tried to mimic Foley-as-Mankind's movements. As far as I can tell it was her first match, and it looked like she had about 5 minutes of training right before having this match. Almost everybody involved should be embarrassed and ashamed that this match happened. Whomever is playing Womankind is clearly not ready to be wrestling in front of any sort of crowd. She couldn't do a single thing right: couldn't fall properly, couldn't get into position for anything, couldn't time anything, couldn't do a single move that looked good. And obviously, blatantly, the gimmick is shameful and pathetic. This is as worse as any non-trained nobody working a bad Doink the clown gimmick across the country. I mean who is the gimmick even for? At best it seems like it would get polite applause because people felt bad, maybe a few "I feel so sorry for you" eyerolls. It's the kind of thing that just makes an entire promotion look bad, completely undercuts everything they may have been trying to accomplish that night. Here we have a one night tournament showcasing all women talent, showing that the Bay Area women's wrestling talent pool is getting deep enough to hold up an entire card...and the match in front of the main event they have to throw out a poor girl who looks like she's never been trained to wrestle, and give her the lamest rip-off of a 20 year old gimmick. It's so bad. I felt really bad for Sage Sin, who wasn't able to do anything at all with Womankind falling all over the place. I would dread having to call something like this on commentary. This was a real low right here. I honestly cannot believe they made the decision to air this match.

2. Beatrice Domino vs. Raze (7/15/16)

Not a bad match to crown the first woman's champ, but this whole episode was really distracting as the audio was about 10 seconds ahead of the video the whole time. I had to mute the sound after the first match, seeing that the audio wasn't going to get fixed at any point, and that took away some potential drama from the main. The fact they threw in a cute, disputed finish didn't help things. The finish was Domino locking in a rear naked choke and the ref counting her shoulders down just as Raze was tapping. I get that it was to set up a future, third Domino/Raze match, I just don't think it looks good to have your first champ win the belt by means of disputed finish. Yeah, she's a heel, but she's also a heel who already beat Domino clean in May, and was bragging about that on the mic after this match. It makes it seem like Domino doesn't deserve another shot. The finish kind of betrayed the rest of the match, which was understandably worked as a "end of show main event, already worked two other matches tonight and I'm tired" war.

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Thursday, November 17, 2016

2016 Ongoing MOTY List: Matt Hardy v. EC3

44. Matt Hardy v. EC3 TNA Impact 7/13 (Aired 7/28/16)

ER: Several years ago Matt Hardy was king of the 8-12 minute TV match, able to craft little stories in a short amount of time. Things happened, life happened, and then for several years he wasn't. But for whatever reason he has been back and creatively rejuvenated, and finally got a chance to show he can still craft a great 10 minute match. They fit a lot into the time and really go go go. Story is tight with Matt unhinged and bite-y but still plenty crafty, and Carter fighting through a leg injury. They fought close almost the entire match, not quite phone booth style but both guys were on each other practically the whole time. All the strikes looked good, Matt still knows how to throw a great punch and really nice elbows, and I loved the various times he would stop a Carter strike with biting. Carter lands funny on a missile dropkick and Matt goes after the leg, and Carter is shockingly adept at selling that leg. His limping and buckling was top notch, and even after hitting a plancha (after an awesome Hardy bump to the floor after Carter kicks him off) he pushes up on the leg and I LOVED the way he stumbled back and lost his balance afterward. Reby Sky gets in the action too with interference, then takes a great bump to the floor (being sure to make it look like she smacks her head on the apron on the way down). This was the most I've ever liked Carter, his selling was the best, his corner lariats looked real good, chops and strikes real nice. A nice tight 8 minute TV match is one of my favorite kinds of match,  and Matt Hardy is basically the modern Bill Dundee when it comes to crafting them. TNA needs to be having him work these every week with every member of the roster.

PAS: I was pretty skeptical when Eric told me to watch this, but it was fun stuff. Hardy is really great at adding a couple of interesting notes to otherwise basic TV matches like this. I loved all of the targeting of the ankle, with Hardy ripping off the boot and biting his instep. I haven't seen much Carter and what I have seen I didn't care for. This however was a nifty performance from him, he has a very 2000s WCWSN offense, but he seemed like a perfectly fine Johnny the Bull here. I enjoyed his clotheslines, punches and did a nice job selling the bad ankle. When Matt Hardy is having wrestling matches rather then outsider cinema he is still pretty great.


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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

DVDVR Puerto Rico 80s Set: Rock n Roll RPM's vs. The Crusher & Eric Embry (3/29/86)

Disc 2, Match 10: Rock n Roll RPM's vs. The Crusher & Eric Embry (3/29/86)

It's almost unfair to all other 1986 wrestling that Puerto Rico had Chicky and Ron Starr in the same tournament that they had Eric Embry. it's a stooging heel paradise here. This was the finals of the tournament. Crusher was Rip Morgan who had been part of the Miguelito Perez establishment feuding. I have no idea what path Crusher and Embry took to get here. The heels have Sasha at ringside. The babyfaces have Wendi Richter of all people with them, and in some ways, Wendi, always more awkward than anyone remembers, is the perfect second for a third-rate RnR team.

This was a very solid tag in front of a crowd that had to be a little tired of seeing very solid tags. Morgan and Embry stooged well in the shine, and the RPMs, in what had to be the biggest match of their careers, were as energetic as humanly possible. Embry came in bandaged and started bleeding early but never ended up gushing. Wendi got involved early to add insult to injury in the shine.

The heels took over with a low blow and that's where the match got really good. Davis was face in peril and while it's a bit of an alien role for him on paper, he did great with it. There was one point where he couldn't capitalize on hope spots because he was taking too long to use the ropes to get back to his feet, just a very solid bit of selling to logically explain the impending cut off. They worked the hope spots well, in and out, and the crowd was very into this by the end, and worked all of the southern tag tricks. My favorite bit was, after they drew Lane in and distracted the ref, a leverage assisted figure four, which I'm not sure I'd ever seen before.

The finish involved a blind switch, an amazing small package, and a completely unbelievable pop for Lane and Davis. The post-match ambush was maybe even better. I think this was a testament, on some level, that if you have competent, committed babyfaces, a heel-driven southern tag style is always going to work. Davis and Lane did what they had to, but it's not about what they did or didn't do. It's about who they are (and more specifically who they're not). And this was worked well enough that who they happened not to be just didn't matter. That's part of why wrestling is so great. The formula works.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

2004 Match of the Year

Necro Butcher v. Toby Klein IWA-MS 6/25/04

ER: Necro Butcher is an all time favorite of mine, and this may be my favorite performance of his. I can't really think of a Necro performance I dislike, but this is a match with just preposterous levels of violence. It's a Fans Bring the Weapons match from the 2004 IWA King of the Death Matches (and really the only criticism of the match is that they essentially worked a finals match in the 1st round, but that's more on the fed for booking these two against each other in the 1st round). Practically everything you see in this match, every spot, is one of the most violent occurrences of that spot you've seen. This is probably my favorite "through the crowd" brawl of all time, with neither guy feeling like they're just wandering around the building to kill time like a lot of those kind of matches, but instead feeling like each guy was actually just punching each other around the building. It never felt like they were actively thinking about getting to a specific part of the building, they just fought with zero regard for where their fight would wind up, instead just focusing on hitting each other with everything not bolted down.

We start with one of many high points, as Necro throws a large, boxy, heavy computer monitor that hits Klein in the neck and shoulder, and from there we get some of my absolute favorite brawling. Necro has always been a great puncher and here he throws more unique combos than in any other match of his: straight rights, short uppercuts, right hooks, punches while kneeling, punches to catch a charging Klein. Necro came off like Finlay throughout this, not wanting there to be any down time or any time where both men were caught resting on their laurels, so if Klein took too long to set something up, he was getting punched somewhere. Necro throws tons of chairs at Klein and it's impossible to decide which shot is more nasty; a folded one hits Klein in the shoulder blade, an unfolded one bounces off his face, the edge of another gets bounced off his ribs, all of them looked mean. Both guys just lace into each other with punches. Necro has some of the all time greatest punches in wrestling, and Klein throws some impressive worked punches. You can tell he's holding back a little bit, but it's evened out when he doesn't hold back in the least with weapons shots later. The crowd brawling is so great, with both men spectacularly sprawling through chairs while shoving their way through fans in shitty clothing that doesn't fit them. Shit gets the realest when Klein powerbombs Necro off the bleachers onto the gym floor. Just a sick over the shoulder powerbomb with no good landing possible.

Once we get into the fan made weapons it's both insanely violent and almost cute. Violent, because Necro and Klein made sure to make all the weapon shots count, no matter what they were; and cute, because you can picture these deviants sitting at home carefully crafting these weapons. Because some of them looked very carefully crafted. There was a rolling pin that had thumbtacks glued to it, and the thumbtacks were in such orderly rows. And a rolling pin just brings to mind - and it's easy to make the joke about fans in attendance living with their parents - but a rolling pin covered in thumbtacks just HAS to mean that a mom somewhere chewed the hell out of her asshole son for taking her rolling pin without permission. There's zero chance any guy in the crowd makes homemade pie crusts. Somebody stole a rolling pin from their mom and spent a LOT of time carefully gluing tacks to it. And then Klein rubbed that pin in a nasty way across Necro's scalp. We get weird weapons like an empty 5 gal. water jug taped to a broomstick, which sounds silly, but then you see Klein just bashing the fuck out of Necro with this Alhambra (Sparklets? Sierra Springs?) jug and you know it hurts. We also get a bunch of barbed wire wiffle bats which is smart (I mean, it's dumb, it's all dumb) because Klein and Necro can now just throw full force bat shots. No need to hold back like with a real bat, and just swing away Merrill! You also get cute moments of fans sliding their weapons in the workers' general direction. "Please use my barbed wire board Toby!" These guys roll through glass, hit each other HARD with tons of weapons, Necro does a wild somersault dive off the top and crashes hard to the gym floor, Necro takes a death valley driver through a set up chair, they work in a clever ref bump (and the ref himself is a lunatic out there wearing no gloves and taking bumps in light tube remnants) that leads us to a great school boy near fall. Them having the presence of mind to throw in a cute roll up as a convincing near fall is one of those things that set them apart from the typical geek show guys. And yeah, this is maybe the flat out most violent match I've ever seen. Their 2003 sprint seems to get talked about more, but this has the best through the crowd brawling of any match ever, more violent shots, and is just twice as crazy. I hate that I love this, but I lovvvvve this.

PAS: One of the issues I always had with US tourney death match wrestling, is it often came across as too genial. These weren't Magnum TA trying to poke out Tully's eye, or Greg Valentine pummeling Piper's ear, these are weird hobbyists enjoying their weird hobby, it sometimes feels more like LARPing or Ren Faire jousting then a nasty fight. Necro Butcher will have none of your respect knuckles and grins, he goes after Klien like Klien shot his dog and slapped his sister, and Klien is ready and willing to give as good as he gets. Eric covered a lot of the things about this which are great, Necro throwing punches from odd angles with unexpected force, crazy hurling of objects, the powerbomb off the bleachers, I also loved the fight over the asiatic spike, such a cool finisher for a nut like Necro and Klien smashing him with tubes to make him break the hold was awesome. I don't give a fuck about light tubes, normally, and some of the fan made weapon stuff got a little stunty, also CM Punk and Prazak were awful on commentary, these guys are out there killing each other and those two are doing shitty MST3K comedy, really detracted from the match.


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Monday, November 14, 2016

EVOLVE 73 Road Report

Wife and baby are out of town so I decide to meet my buddy Childs down at Joppa for an EVOLVE show.

Tracy Williams v. Tommy End

Tommy End is a guy that on paper I should like, he has cool looking tattoos, I watched a bunch of K1 in the 90s, always dug the dutch kickboxer v. Maeda matches in RINGS, but he has never done it for me. He is kind of like Killer Brooks, if you saw Killer Brooks in PWI you would think he was this cool looking Texas badass, and then you actually saw him in the ring.

This was a dark match only for the live audience. In my life I have seen four really classic matches which never ended up on tape. I saw Ultimo Dragon v. Eddie Guerrerro go 20+ in a WCW house show in Fairfax VA, Cham Pain and I called a great 2/3 falls lucha match in Monterey Mexico with Satanico/Blue Panther v. Solar/Super Astro, I saw El Hijo Del Santo and LA PARK bleed all over Atlanta GA, and saw Negro Navarro, Solar and Mike Quakenbush rock out a strip mall in Deleware. This was not my fifth hidden classic, Williams looked shockingly bad, there was this spot where he was dropping elbows on End's arm and he was missing the arm by 18 inches, it was one of the most business exposing things I have seen a trained wrestler do. End wins after about 7 minutes with a half crab. They weirdly gets a standing ovation, and then End gives this Ian Rotten style speech about how Tracy Williams is the future of the business like they just tore down the house.

Darby Allin v. Jaka

This are both guys I like and this was a fun semi squash. The Allin push is strange, Jaka isn't really in this fed and he just dominated All9n, with only a couple of hope spots. Jaka works stiff and Allen takes a big beating so I dug it, but I don't get why it was so one sided. Darby also does some really vocal Joshi screaming which is kind of distracting

Icarus v. Jason Kincaid

This was pretty good too, Icarus is working like a 1999 indy era fake Benoit, like Josh Daniels or Quiet Storm, lots of chops and snap suplexes. Kincaid has some amusing spots, there was a moment where it threatened to go off the rails, but it got reined in, and the finish was nutso with Kincaid hiting a diving blockbuster to the floor and them a double stomp after climbing a tall poll.

Ethan Page v. Chris Dickenson

I like Dickenson a fair amount, but have no idea why he is working face here, he is a disgusting creep and should always be working as one. I think Page might own 15% of EVOLVE or something, he is the worst guy on this show and getting this huge money markish push. He turned heel after a year long master plan like the worlds shittiest Ole Anderson, he gets two indy giant henchmen, gets these showcase matches, lots of mic time, and deserves none of it. This is a fed with Chris Hero main eventing, you can't work a match around elbow strikes when you throw pillows like this. Dickenson tried, but Page will Page.

Drew Gulak v. Zach Sabre Jr.

This was tremendous, no strikes, pretty much all grappling and really nasty grappling. Gulak is so great and finding interesting plausable counters and blocks for offense. He is a masterful mat counter puncher. Tons of nifty moments where ZSJ would attempt something, Gulak would twist a wrist or knee and Sabre would counter the counter. There was a whole section based around a ZSJ guillotine attempt which had a bunch of different cool escapes and attacks. There may have been one more restart then necessary, but the finish was awesome with Gulak getting the dragon sleeper out of a Sabre pin attempt and putting him down.

Chris Hero v. Matt Riddle

Worked pretty differently then their previous two matches, as this was more of a sprint brawl. Hero jumps Riddle before the bell and cracks him and they push the pace for the whole match. Not much matwork, all bombs. I did really like Hero constantly staying ahead of Riddle, it is weird booking that he went over, but it does make logical sense that a veteran would adjust to a rookie phenom and be able to be one step ahead. Finish was super decisive, with Hero wiping out Riddle's springboard knee attempt with a brutal elbow and hitting three straight piledriver variations to put him down. Finish felt a bit sudden but nobody should be kicking out of three piledrivers

Chris Hero/DUSTIN v. Drew Gulak/Tony Neese v. The Gatekeepers v. Tracy Williams/Fred Yehi

Various injuries lead to this dogs breakfast of a four way tag for the title. Gatekeepers look really dumb in their business casual slacks and colored dress suits, Big Bubba only worked because he was in a suit, not in temp job business casual. This never really got going, there was a moment or two, but it was mostly dull, and your big Tony Neese send off finish fell flat. I am happy that they got the belts off of DUSTIN so he doesn't stink up next months Dick Togo match, but this wasn't much especially for a main event

Post match Regal comes out to give a speech and offer Tony Neese a WWE contract. We bail on the emotional Tony Neese goodbye speech to get on the road.

Really liked the new Floslam EVOLVE, no intermission, fast moving card, whole thing had us in and out in a little more then two hours. Nothing blow away, but two pretty great matches and couple of fun undercard showcases. Fine way to spend a Sunday

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Sunday, November 13, 2016

Black Terry Ordered the Jugs Filled With Water

Black Terry v. Wotan v. Canis Lupus v. Caifan Titanes Del Ring 10/30/16-GREAT

PAS: Wotan and Terry had a stone cold classic earlier in the year, this wasn't that, but it had it's moments. Wotan and Terry didn't square off as much as I hoped they would, but I liked the Wotan v. Lupus sections, both guys bleed a ton and really wailed on each other. Terry matched up with Caifan and it was pretty great including old man Terry taking a case of beer bottles to the side of the head. There wasn't a ton of structure, but a lot of wildness. Finish pulled it down a bit as they did a weak double elimination on Terry and Caifan and then a low blow ref distraction pin. Felt a little house showish, but I enjoyed a bunch of the performances.


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Saturday, November 12, 2016

All Time MOTY List HEAD to HEAD Santo/Casas v. Bestia/Scorpio Jr. VS. LCO v. KAORU/Yamada

Mima Shimoda/Etsuko Mita vs. KAORU/Toshiyo Yamada GAEA 4/4/99

ER: Well, this wasn't very good. This was a mess. This was sloppy, and disorganized, and had zero selling in sight, had botches and was way too long. Picture a Tanaka/Awesome match from 1999. Now picture a tear in the space time continuum, and suddenly another Tanaka and Awesome appear. And then all 4 of them start fighting. So you have two Tanakas and two Awesomes all having a Texas Tornado match. And three of them are having an off night. That's what was happening in this match. You had botches and silly spots that took ages to set up (those falling guardrail spots were terrible) and moves that meant nothing because anyone who took a move could just stand right up and do your own move. Or maybe worse is KAORU, who spent more time selling in the match than anyone else, all consecutive, and all in the first half of the match. And then she was completely fine during the finishing 5 minutes of the match. Some of Shimoda's axe kicks looked like they couldn't cut butter. The crowd brawling was worthless. Yamada was the only one in the match who was sustainably good the whole match. Yamada made this have moments worth watching. She tried the hardest to keep the crowd brawling from being listless, had the best cut off spots, hit her timing best, sold emotion the best. But by and large this was not good.

PAS: I liked this more then Eric did, although it wasn't a great match by any means. It had the kind of ragged feel of a fun Sabu match, with people trying crazy shit and not always hitting it clean, in some ways the awkwardness added to the crazy feeling of the match. I also liked how LCO kept fucking up the ref, hitting her with chair shots and rail shots for the hell of it, added to LCO's characters. They don't give a fuck and will wreck anyone. Yamada also had some awesome looking spin kicks, total game changers and momentum shifters. Still this went way too long, and had as many bad spots as good ones. I imagine all four were in pain the next day, but you don't get an A for effort in wrestling

Apuestas Tag Review


ER: Yeah no chance. This had none of the nuance or storytelling of the lucha tag. The blade jobs were good but not as good as the lucha tag. The build doesn't compare, the heat doesn't compare. Lucha tag in every way.

PAS: This was a blowout, I liked the Joshi tag fine, even if it was a bit long, but the Lucha tag is an all timer.

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Friday, November 11, 2016

For Yoshiaki Fujiwara Weeping May Stay for the Night

Yoshiaki Fujiwara/Masa Fuchi v. Tamon Honda/Sambo Asako All Japan 1/96-FUN

On paper I love the Fujiwara and Fuchi tag team, feels like they should have had a long run as Mr. Fujiwara and Mr. Fuchi managed by Tojo Yammamoto in Memphis. I still haven't seen a great match from them, but I love the concept. This is earliesh Honda, and he is still pretty fun, but I can imagine how awesome he would be matched up with these two in 6 years or so. Not as much matwork as you would hope, we do get a fun Honda v. Fujiwara headbutt battle, and Honda headbutting Fuchi in the teeth. The double Fujiwara armbar finish is cool too, still I was hoping for a hidden gem, and got a fine little match.


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Thursday, November 10, 2016

2016 Ongoing MOTY List: Riddle v. Hero II

Chris Hero v. Matt Riddle EVOLVE 71 10/16

ER: I liked this, but not as much as their first match. This felt like kind of an overproduced sequel to the already great original. Both guys are so good, but they're sometimes too good, their moves and strikes sometimes look too brutal, and the longer matches go the more they can feel like overkill. This felt a little overkill-y to me. Hero looked on point, all his cool combos looked great, the rolling kicks and worked punches, all awesome. Love the battles over the piledriver. Wish they would have lingered longer on mat stuff as I love how these two oppose each other on the mat. Hero starts yanking on Riddle's foot, calf and toe, but Riddle gets to the ropes quick. Riddle gets the bro lock but Hero also rolls to ropes. Much of this was strikes and moves, which they do great, but seemed a little more neverending than their first match. We had tons of great moments just because of who they both are, though. Hero sandbagging Riddle cockily on a german, only for Riddle to power through it was so good. And that's the thing, pretty much everything these two looks good (though I'm maybe the only person who wishes Riddle would drop the springboard knee, that move always seems so wedged into his matches). I think both matches are good and merely a matter of style preference, with some layout preference as well. The first match ticked off a lot of my boxes, this one could have been trimmed a bit. But good wrestling is good wrestling is good wrestling.

PAS: Yeah this was more of an Ishii match, then a Fujiwara match, and I am always going to prefer something with more cool submissions and torturing. Still this was a very good Ishii match. I loved that first huge elbow on the outside which knocked Riddle into the seats. It felt like a KO shot which should change momentum, and it was treated like that. I also loved Hero milking the 10 count and catching Riddle over confident rushing in, it is the exact thing you would expect a wily veteran to pull, it reminded me of an Arn Anderson or Finlay spot. I also really liked the finish, Hero unloads the whole arsenal and instead of Riddle going back on offense, the damn just broke. Excellent stuff, and a great set up for the rubber match.


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Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Big Time Wrestling TV 9/2/16

Here are the the semi-finals of the Damsels in Distress 2 show, which is awesome of them to show.

1. Katie Lea vs. Beatrice Domino (7/15/16)

Katie Lea is the former Katie Burchill, and she still looks exactly the same as she did 5 years ago, which would have been the last time I saw her wrestle. The match itself didn't accomplish a whole lot in the 8 minute run time. Lea was the heel, and worked over Domino with various chokes. I don't mind an entire match based around chokes, but this really didn't have the playfulness of the best hide the chain matches or other cheating heel matches. In fact it was never really played up as cheating, more just Katie Lea choking Domino, breaking before 5, and then resetting before doing it again. There wasn't a ton of playing to the crowd, not a lot of build to the chokes, just ended up feeling like a heel occupying time before the comeback. Domino's comeback is very brief but looked great, with Kaite coming off the ropes and going for a rana, but Domino catches her, holds her, and plants her with a great sit out powerbomb. Finish looked great, both looked fine throughout, just never went anywhere too compelling. Plus Renner and Dave always leer and drool over the women which just comes off badly.

2. Raze vs. Dementia D'Rose (7/15/16)

D'Rose has that ever tough wrestling gimmick of "crazy", which never seems to come off very well. Dragon Dave suggests she may eat the title if she wins it. You know, because she's crazy. You would think the suggestion of eating a belt would lead to some crazy ring antics, but we mostly just get some teased hair. I like Raze and the parts with her controlling were good, really liked her hard knees in the corner and in the ropes, and she really plants her Saito suplex finisher. D'Rose is pretty new I think, and she ends up out of place a couple times, but I like her bombs away and I'm sure she'll continue to improve.

3. Sara Del Rey & Davina Rose vs. Amber O'Neal & Sassy Stephanie (5/21/11)

Aw man I miss seeing Sara Del Rey wrestling. I'm absolutely positive her current gig is much better, but she had grown into a real favorite of mine. So, it was fun to see this, and it went exactly as you likely guessed: Rey controls early, heels cut off the ring with Rose as FIP, leading to Rey eventually coming in and going monster on everyone. Rose was a good FIP at this point (and she's obviously only gotten better) and Del Rey knew how to work like a real brute. Never seen Stephanie before and I don't think I'll be rushing out to see more, but O'Neal is currently married to Luke Gallows and she runs most of the heel team. She was good with the taunts and doing great annoying things like lock Rose's arms behind her and doing sit-ups with Rose trapped. The eventual hot tag to Del Rey is fun, especially dug her rolling kappo kick in the corner, really making sure that leg swung accurate. So an overall fun match, but they already featured Rose/Bayley in their throwback match segment, just a few weeks ago. They have over a decade of shows to pull from, I wish they'd choose to show what they thought were the best matches in the promotion's history, instead of a Nasty Boys match. Show me the best BTW has to offer!

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Tuesday, November 08, 2016

1994 Match of the Year

Toshiaki Kawada v. Mitsuharu Misawa AJPW 6/3/94

PAS: This is pretty much the most consensus pick we have on the list. For the last 20 or so years when you asked serious wrestling fans what the best match ever was, this would be the family feud answer. It has been a long time since I watched this match, well before Misawa died, and my tastes in wrestling have shifted, I was interested to see if it held up. For the most part it did, this is an undeniably great match, pretty much the peak of the All Japan style, and it still really held my interest even though I have soured a bit on that style as a whole.

I really found my self invested in the awesome striking here, Misawa's elbows look awesome and I love how he can use them like a jab, holding someone off, and as a KO shot. Kawada is an amazing kicker, his timing and precision on kicks are perfect and he has a bunch of different variations. I loved how he transitioned from the early feeling out period of the match by obliterating Misawa with a spin kick. At one point Misawa gets his ear bloodied and Kawada spends much of the match trying to kick his brain through the opening. Kawada also lands a kick onto a diving Misawa which was a nasty counter, he is always able to land that big kick to counter Misawa. The match has some great near falls which it is know for, although honestly I might have liked this match even more if they had trimmed some of the dangerous suplexes and just gone toe to toe. The finishing Tiger Driver '91 was super nasty looking, but I think it would have been better if there hadn't been a bunch of almost as nasty looking headdrops earlier, although I admit that might be a reaction to Misawa's death as much as the match.

ER: This was that legendary Japanese match that was supposed to act as a gateway to the magical workrate land of Japanese wrestling. The first Japanese wrestling tape I owned was a 6 hour deathmatch compilation. I'd be willing to wager that a LOT of people's first Japanese wrestling tape was a 6 hour deathmatch compilation. So my first exposure to Japanese pro wrestling was lumpy men fighting in a supermarket, or Poison Sawada holding a cobra, or a ring outdoors at night fully engulfed in flames, or two morbidly obese twins rolling around in glass, or Pogo twisting a sickle into someone's forehead, or Onita riding in a boat to a ring. As far as I knew, half of the matches in Japan didn't even take place in a ring.

Some time in summer '98 while browsing magazines at Sawyer's News (RIP) I was thumbing through a PWI and saw a feature on Misawa/Kawada, because there was a big triple crown match and they had a storied history, and they were treated like such an important deal...and I had never heard these names before. I had never heard of the Triple Crown, and the only reason I had heard of All Japan was (hilariously) because WWF had done a feature on The Patriot and shown some brief clips of his time there. But PWI talked so reverently about these two that I became obsessed with seeing them wrestle. So I went online (after literally having been "online" for only a few months at that point. My first email address was!!) and bought a 6 hr. tape containing 3 AJPW comm tapes, including 6/3/94. So after thinking Japanese wrestling was all guys cutting each other, my first AJPW experience was actually a six man with Rusher Kimura and Haruka Eigen and mummy Giant Baba. So before getting to Misawa/Kawada I was really confused about what Japanese pro wrestling actually was. But I wasn't prepared for what I got. At that time, being maybe 17? my idea of a great wrestler was fast with cool moves. WCW cruisers were my bread and butter. So when I heard of two legendary Japanese wrestlers I'm certain I assumed "Their moves will be the best", as I was prizing move innovation over storytelling at that point in my fandom. And as you know the match doesn't really provide hot movez action. But there were tons of things that resonated with me that first viewing.

The crowd was electric, there was this great sense that - even though I had no history with these two - that they had a great history with each other, and knew what to expect from the other. There were no cutesy I reverse U reverse spots, more like physical chess with both of them knowing what to expect two moves from now. There were elements to the work that I had never really seen before, simple things that I loved, like putting your forearms up to block an elbow strike, or dropping down to a knee to sandbag a powerbomb. Every guy I saw attempt a powerbomb before then had either hit that powerbomb right away, or got backdropped over. An actual struggle over a big move was a bit of a revelation to me. Seeing Misawa drop to a knee, widen his base, grab onto Kawada's leg, anything to keep him from being powerbombed, that was eye opening. The strikes landed harder than anything else I had seen (pretty sure my VHS copy was one of the ones where they had slo mo highlights after the match, so you can see guys' necks compress and see their face get moved around their skull), and well, I had never seen a man bleed from his ear before. I don't think anything good ever came to anyone after bleeding out of their ear.

And all of that stuff still holds up as special. It's a great match. The level of improv based around things you can't plan (where a guy falls after taking a move, the position he winds up in), all of the ring positioning, it's all impressive stuff. You can see gears working when a strike was supposed to land harder and it didn't, and you can watch some sequences get kind of reworked and changed and added to without ever altering the course of the match. Kawada's kicks all land sharp, with that early thrust spin kick especially looking like it decapitated Misawa. I actually remember seeing people call "resthold" as a complaint in this match, but I'm sorry to watch each man's respective hold and to be so disbelieving seems a bit cynical to me. Misawa's face lock looked like he was clearly trying to block Kawada's breathing with his arm, and Kawada's stretch plum looked as if he was trying to separate Misawa's neck from his shoulders. There was nothing restful about either of those holds. We get some crazy moments like Kawada punching Misawa out of the air off an apron drive. Misawa actually changes trajectory in mid air from being punched! Kawada finally hitting that folding powerbomb was a huge moment and a great nearfall (of several), and while I didn't find the head drops excessive, that Tiger Driver 91 is still shocking. It really is quite the door slam to the match. I hadn't watched this match in probably 8+ years, and at this point I'm not seeing a reason it won't keep holding up.


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