Segunda Caida

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

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

1971 Match of the Year

Tony & Roy St. Clair v. Vic Faulkner & Bert Royal World of Sport 1/12/71

ER: I really dug this, the whole vibe of everything, the (almost entirely) elderly crowd in their Sunday best, the pastiness of the athletes, the 8' long tag ropes; World of Sport can be magic. Up front I will say that I wish things ramped up a little bit. You could argue that the first five minutes were worked like the last five were worked like the middle five. But it seems like more of the context of the times than anything. That aside, the ringwork was excellent. Royal was a real mean fucker, Faulkner was showy and super skilled and looked like Gary Crosby, and while the Saints were a little more dry their talent is clear and I loved the way they showed constant annoyed amusement towards Faulkner, how he was getting under their skin but they were begrudgingly maintaining professionalism. The pace of this was super impressive as we get all sorts of rolling leg picks and awesome monkey flips, weird pins and killer tricks. The counters and reversals were terrific, and when they would wrench something in it would really land, like when Royal was locked into a headscissors and tried controlled thrashing to get out of it, and when that didn't work he kept trying to sneak a foot up to kick Roy off of him. Or when Faulkner was forcing Tony to do the splits by holding down his right leg and pushing Tony's left leg with his boots...and Tony merely stood up. Faulkner was great at rope feints and awesomely cartwheeling out of danger. All guys worked together marvelously (although I really don't like the aesthetics of all of these face sitting pin attempts...) and craft a ridiculously fun match using hardly any strikes. But Royal is the guy I need to see more of. You can see that violence behind his blue eyes.

PAS: This was a blue eye v. blue eye battle of technique and really a masterful exhibition of holds and counter holds. The Royal brothers reminded me a bit of the Funks, with Bert as the balding master of mat work, and Vic Faulkner as more of a wild out of control ball of energy. Faulkner runs the ropes with total abandon, he just flings himself as hard as he can, and always looks like he is going to fly into the fourth row. I also really enjoyed Faulkner as a trickster, he seemed to be always running some sort of wrestling con, like he will buy you a beer, smile tell you a great story, and then you realize your watch is missing. The Saints didn't have as much personality as the Royals but they were both tremendous counter wrestlers, it took to the  fifth step for anyone in this match to gain an advantage, the first four were always countered. This match stayed friendly, although I really enjoyed the moments of chippiness. Roy St. Clair has a great looking back elbow, and at one point Royal was wrenching the wrist like he was going to pop Tony's hand off. I would have liked to see this break down a little more, but for this type of scientific contest it is pretty unparalleled.


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Monday, January 30, 2017

CWF Mid Atlantic Worldwide Episode 89

PAS: After really enjoying BattleCade we decided to dump 205 live and make CWF-MA our weekly TV show of choice

ER: Yeah 205 Live hadn't been scratching any sort of itch with me. I think I'll still go back and pick up what I missed, but if we're going to be documenting a weekly hour of pro wrestling TV before the end of the free world, this seems to be the current right choice. I've been meaning to get into this fed more than 50 episodes ago and I just needed a boost. So thank Phil for the boost.

Episode 89

1. Mance Warner vs. Dirty Daddy

PAS: This was a ton of fun, Warner cuts a promo about how he has been chasing Daddy from territory to territory for 30 years. Dirty Daddy as a Rufus R. Jones transplanted to the 21st century is a piece of comedy I can appreciate. Warner was pretty great every one of his punches, kicks and clotheslines looked great, and I loved his running kick. Daddy makes his babyface comeback with a flip flop and fly and a Buddy Landel elbow. Another example of how well CWF does short TV matches, I want to see more of both guys.

ER: Well one match in and this already feels like the correct decision. Never heard of either guy, ended up 5 minutes later wanting to see more of each guy. Warner looks like Foxy Brown/Spider Baby era Sid Haig, but with the beard of Devil's Rejects era Sid Haig. He did a whole lot of simple stuff, all of it really well. Stiff forearms, great front kick, big time lariat with nice follow through, all with these great crazy eyes. Dirty Daddy threw these really weird punches and elbows, mind you I said really weird, not really bad, because I dug them. It's like his point of release was different than you see most guys throwing, like these late release short jabs, as if he was sneaking his fist towards Warner's face before punching him. Threw a nice elbow drop too. Match ends and I go "Hey it just started! They didn't even do much!" and then see that 6 minutes has gone by and I was merely absorbed in their wonderful display of fake fighting. Nice start to the show.

2. Otto Schwanz vs. Joey Rogers

PAS: I always enjoyed Otto back in the day as an OMEGA bruiser during the Hardy era. He seems to be reinvented here as a shoot wrestling stretcher. He tosses Rogers around and twists his limbs in weird contorted ways. Rogers has a brief comback, but some distraction by Schwanz's seconds ends the match quick. Schwanz as meathead Fuchi is pretty great

ER: I thought this was pretty awesome, and for a quick match it still gets over 7 minutes. Rogers felt like a cool big bumping Darby Allin type, and Schwanz hasn't missed a beat since the last time I watched him (maybe a decade ago?). Dude looks exactly the same, huge props for keeping himself in ring shape. And I love the way he tears apart Rogers. The way he initially approaches him is as a no-style steamroller, not doing any fancy mat takedowns to get to him, just cornering him so he could get his mitts on him. Rogers has a cool moment of tossing out a low kick at Otto's face, warning him to keep away as he crawls in, but it's a painful mauling once Schwanz grabs him. Otto locks in all these really nasty leg locks, hyperextending the knee and doing all sorts of tripped out figure 4 combos with Rogers' legs tied up and bent in sick ways. At one point Schwanz almost loses his balance locking one of them in and it looked like he would have snapped Rogers' knee if he actually fell. Rogers' comeback is nice, selling that knee damage all the way through, and it builds to him going up top, but one of Schwanz' boys gets on the apron, and in a killer spot Rogers does a one legged dropkick to the guy, who then takes a painful out of control bump to the floor. But, that also allows Otto to grab him and get the win. Great little match. If there's something like this every week then I will never stop watching.

3. Aric Andrews vs. Snooty Foxx

PAS: Snootie is a rookie who kind of looks like a more jacked 2 Cold Scorpio, Andrews is the TV champion and looks like a 26 year who deals dirt weed in the parking lot of a rural Maryland high school, somewhere a father of a 16 year old girl hates his fucking guts.  The execution in this match wasn't great, Fox is really green and it showed at points. Andrews looked pretty good though, he worked a really simple story around taking apart Fox's knee. Lots of nice looking chop blocks and rope assisted figure fours. I haven't loved either Andrews match I have seen so far, but I want to see more.

ER: Yeah, the execution was lacking a bunch in this one, but the framework of a quality TV time limit match was there. Arik Andrews is clearly an illegitimate Chris Robinson child. I mean think how often the Black Crowes must have played North Carolina in the late 80s early 90s. You got the sense Andrews had to slow a lot of things down for Snooty, which is fine, but I can see him being much better with a better opponent. Andrews took apart the knee which we did kind of see done much better the match before, but Andrews is less a crowbar and more a sneaky "hold the ropes behind the ref's back" limb worker, so it was different enough. His short kicks kicking out the knee were among his best stuff. Snooty for his part missed an elbow drop off the top in especially nasty style, and hit a cool spear right at Andrews' chest, which I think is a slight but cool twist on the traditional spear/gore. Maybe I had the volume down too much but it also didn't seem like they were overly telegraphing the time limit draw. Until a camera angle slyly showed the tron counting down from about 1:30 I hadn't even thought of a draw as a possibility. Also really liked Brad Stutts as the voice of authority. He had a real conversational approach to his decrees and it was clear the crowd treated him with respect. I liked how he casually built to the ruling we were all expecting, but I liked the journey.

4. Chet Sterling v. Cain Justice

PAS: Really impressive performance by Justice who is a very nifty grappler, especially for a rookie. Just great looking tearing at the arm with a combo of mat locks and old fashioned Mid-Atlantic Anderson's style mauling. Justice seems like kind of a generic Cross-Fit junior, but he did a nice job selling the injury, including a really realistic scream of pain when he attempted a german suplex. Finish was cool too, as Sterling uses his momentum to counter the arm submission into a flash pin. He never felt the need to get his offense in, just grabbed an opportunity to escape

ER: This was really good, simple and fun. Justice comes off like Jamie Dundee with MMA training, which, yeah that's a guy you're going to want to watch. I liked Sterling more than Phil, didn't get a cross-fit junior vibe at all. He came off like a guy with a nice command of the basics which is something usually really lacking in cross-fit go go style. His headlock takeovers were really great, and he moved expertly in and out of hammerlocks and headlocks. You don't see quality headlocks from cross-fit guys, they're too excited to get to their next rope running exchange. Justice had some great comedy moments in taking the headlock takeovers, walking up to Sterling starting some shit and getting caught looking, and again with a drop toe hold! Once he starts grabbing that arm it's an awesome contest to see what will make him let go. I loved the awkward struggles from it, all really satisfying stuff.

PAS: Brad Attitude interrupts the year end highlight package with an awesome asshole promo where he shows pictures doing shots in Vegas with Dolph Ziggler on his smartphone. Attitude is amazing, what a hateable asshole, his whole shtick has a real big league feel to it, which works great with his washed up ex-star gimmick.

ER: Well that first ep couldn't have gone much better than this one. We will be repeat customers for sure. This was like King of the WorldWide Points. They should title their next show "CWF Mid-Atlantic: We Invented the WorldWide Point". Free idea, boys, right there.

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DVDVR Puerto Rico 80s Set: Invader I vs. Eric Embry (June 1986)

Disc 2, Match 15: Invader I vs. Eric Embry (June 1986)

At this juncture you might be asking yourself "Why is Matt so unfamiliar with Eric Embry?" It's what I'm asking myself, because I've enjoyed him a lot on the set so far. I think if you took someone from our circle from ten years ago or so, they'd be more familiar with Embry than Ron Starr, by far. That's not the case with me. I've got my gaps. Some are more obvious than others. I'd seen Starr in Portland and Grand Prix and vs Fujinami and even a match here or there in Alabama or Georgia. Embry I had mainly seen as a ~20 year old babyface in Portland where he felt kind of interchangeable with Brian Addias or someone. My Dallas watching has generally been limited because the cult of Von Erich always bugged me when I was younger. Obviously, by the time Embry showed up it was less of a deal but the end result is that I've seen way more Global than later era World Class or USWA Texas. I'll rectify that later, but for now, I've got Puerto Rico to watch.

This was so very good, one of my favorite matches on the set so far. I've seen people underwhelmed by it which surprises me a bit. I think a lot of that has to do with the double countout finish. It felt like a war though, far better than, for instance, a lot of the best of the ten minute early 80s AJPW brawls that end in a similar manner. This told a hell of a story buoyed by Invader's fire, Embry's antics, and the brilliant selling by both of them.

PR expert Boricua helped me with the backstory. Sasha, Embry's former valet is with Invader. He's also lacking his hair. All of this stems from a feud between Embry and Super Medico that ended with a hair match that we have but was far too clipped for the set. Apparently Sasha got fed up with Embry's abuse, Medico came to her rescue, and during the subsequent hair match, Invader got involved.

This match itself was straightforward in the best ways. Invader kills him for the first part of the match. Embry yanks him out of the ring and takes over, destroying Invader on the outside and then pulling him for bombs and pin attempts. Invader fights back, survives a cut off, gets some well-deserved revenge on the outside, and then they both sell the exhaustion by brawling on their knees in the ring and then to the outside for the countout.

So it's a story as old as time, but the execution is just great. Embry manages to stay in it during the shine, always seeming like a threat, if not to Invader than at least to Sasha, but that just makes Invader's mauling of him all the more impactful. Then, when they make it out to the floor, Embry's absolutely brutal, clobbering him with a chair (and following it with an exasperated but triumphant scream to rile the crowd), slamming him into the post or the rail, taking him to the wall and slamming him into that, biting him, and finally pile driving him on a table. He has a 1986 Randy Savage element to his offense in the ring, bounding in from the outside with a single axe handle and launching headbutts both grounded and off the top. At every kick out, he portrays frustration, selling the stakes and doing his part in keeping the crowd invested.

That's more than he needs to do, really, since Invader's so good at it from the point of peril. When Invader finally reverses a suplex and they crash into one another, he's able to get the crowd going just by slapping his own chest a few times. It's ritual and they know their role. They come when called and despite one last pile driver cut off by Embry, Invader rewards them for their devotion. He gets the advantage after Embry goes to the well once too often with the falling headbutt. Invader drags him out, hits him with a chair and sends him back to the far wall, getting full revenge for the previous brutality. They finish it off back in the ring, both of them bloody, exhausted messes, just throwing bombs (punches, headbutts, low blows) at one another while struggling to even kneel, let alone stand. Invader has the advantage here, with Embry bumping through the ropes out to the floor, giving him the moral victory even as the two brawl to the back to bring this to a close.

Yes, sure, a cleaner finish might have been nice, but this still felt like a satisfying moral victory for Invader while keeping Embry strong. Invader was able to return upon Embry almost the exact beating on the outside that he himself received and then was able to knock him out of the ring to finsih the match. Embry, due to his pluckiness, the brutality of his attack on the outside, and the fact that he never quite gave up, even as Invader was taking his pound of flesh, looked strong despite it all, but it was obvious that Invader won the day, even without a clean finish. It just meant that they could go back, and give this to another crowd on another day. Great stuff.

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Sunday, January 29, 2017

WWE Royal Rumble 2017 Not Live Blog

ER: Okay didn't realize this show started at apparently noon, so I'm already in a deep pit of lateness.

1. Nikki Bella/Naomi/Becky Lynch vs. Natalya/Mickie James/Alexa Bliss

ER: So weird that they had Natalya as a babyface for so long. Anybody who has watched Natalya for a minute realizes she's a much better heel. Of course, Nikki seems like a better heel too. Hmmm. We get a convoluted suplex train. And Becky takes a mean bump into the railing. Later, she whiffs on an enziguiri. Lynch giveth, and taketh away. Naomi is a great hot tag and all her big offense looks nice, big springboard dropkick and the split legged moonsault to finish was apt. Still this match was a major flop. All these supposedly hated feuds all got dealt with in a rushed and inconsequential match. Mickie James returns and is already hardly used in a six man, Nikki hardly goes after Natalya, just a pointless trios.

2. Sheamus/Cesaro vs. Luke Gallows/Karl Anderson

ER: I dig how this starts with Cesaro dishing flying uppercuts, cool double teams (that rolling senton with double stomp!), but Anderson steals my hard in this match. He gets a lot of shit online it seems, but he was awesome here. His shotgun kick looked great, all his other kicks looked great, his roll up "hold the ropes" sneakiness was done really well, just really liked how he worked opposite both guys.

3. Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax

ER: Liked some of Nia's big power offense in this, and LOVED her awesome standing submission, and Sasha'a flying knees off the top, but was really hoping for more here. This was too brief to be anything but angle.

4. Bayley vs. Charlotte

ER: This starts a little sloppy with a little rope running cross up and then a kind of sloppy rana through the ropes to the floor. But Bayely is really great at being tossed around by Charlotte and makes all of her "I'm going to take your head and throw it towards the mat" offense look good. Bayley does a 18 rope jump crossbody that is ridiculous but also kind of awesome. Bayley's elbow drop is real great and they wisely show it in slo mo, looked killer. Charlotte gets busted open and the ending was pretty great, with that face buster on the apron looking nasty, but also coming off not totally "clean", so Bayley shouldn't be hurt by it.

5. Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns

ER: I kinda enjoyed the crowd brawling, Steen was good at bouncing his face off things. The chair set up makes me nervous. Nobody should go through that. I do like both men getting caught with moves because they were busy setting up props. That makes sense. The table spot looked insane and Reigns takes a brutal header into a chair in the corner, and I LOVE Jericho dropping the knux to him. That's beautiful. You knew someone was going through those damn chairs and it least they made the most of it with all the camera angles.

6. Neville vs. Rich Swann

ER: I don't know how well these two will match up but I do love Neville as a heel. Neville does a nice job of occupying himself during Swann's kick combos, which is all you can really ask. He's really great at getting in position for Swann and Swann gets impressive height on his stuff AND lands with a nice thud. And that's all you can really ask from Swann. The match was perfectly fine and I liked the ending sub, overall it was fine junk food.

7. AJ Styles vs. John Cena

ER: This should be a good one, and it starts out meeting those expectations, with Cena throwing some neat stick and move punches and Styles just flying around like crazy. Huge back body drop, big pancake bump, slick rana, both guys working super hard. Loved Cena throwing big ol' soupbones while AJ was on the top rope. Cena is really tightening things up here and AJ is a total bump freak for him. Admittedly I was talking with friends while this match was happening, and I really liked a lot of what I saw. But my focus was assuredly not 100%. For all I know I could rewatch it and end up hating all the transitions and kickouts or who knows what else. From watching it distracted, it felt like a great match. But it's going to need a rewatch to be certain.

8. Rumble Match

(I'm watching with some friends and one has to leave early, so I skipped ahead to the Rumble and will go back and watch Styles/Cena)

And hey we start with Big Cass and Jericho so...that's a start. Kalisto, Mojo Rawley, this really is starting out with some fart noises. Okay, Jack Gallagher needs to go ALLLLL the way. So awesome that he went from where he was a year ago, to a gig in WWE. And holy shit that elimination bump from Gallagher was awesome. I love him for holding onto the umbrella the whole way down. Beautiful. Braun Strowman gives a gift to all of us by eliminating Cass and Mojo. Bless you Braun. Man now Big Show is in!? This is a really hoss-y Rumble so far, which is a platform I can get behind. Hats off to Ellsworth for his elimination. Love it. Corbin is having a nice showing so far. Kofi awesomely found another fun trick to sneak into the match. Him dodging a Corbin strike and gripping onto the ring post was a killer moment. I love that I can look forward to Kofi doing one awesome thing once a year. Bray has a great entrance, loved all the cell phone light fireflys looked amazing, and then he does a massive uranage to Miz, beastly lariat to Kofi, really looking inspired these last couple months. Enzo is really great at taking a dangerous, untrained looking bump in big matches. So I'm glad they properly used him for that. But Ellsworth has the bump of the night. His elimination was devastating. Rusev just chucked him. And I did NOT think Orton would win. I thought he was a potential winner, but didn't think he would actually win. And he's probably one of the least interesting winner choices. But, the Rumble itself was overall really fun.

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Saturday, January 28, 2017

All Time MOTY List HEAD to HEAD: Killer Karl Kox v. Dick Murdoch V. Marty Jones v. Mark Rocco

Marty Jones v. Mark Rocco World of Sport 6/30/76

ER: Cool match that exceeded all expectations. It gets a bunch of time and it ramps up real nicely. As the match goes on Rocco starts acting like more and more of a jerk, really riling up the fans by sneaking in cheapshots or slamming Jones into the ropes. The opening couple rounds have a bunch of  cool cravate reversals and wristlocks and hammerlocks, both guys wrenching stuff in nicely and tricking the other into reversals. We get some cool tricks and show off spots, really like both guys breaking out flashy handsprings out of snapmares, leading to Rocco getting blitzed by a dropkick after getting up from one. Both guys start picking away at limbs, looking for an opening. Jones yanks on Rocco's legs in cool ways, and Rocco is the one who starts going after Jones' arm, and the more he picks away at it the cooler Jones' subtle selling gets. I loved moments where they'd be separated, and you'd see Jones' left arm hanging more than his right, or little ways he would hold it closer to his body. Rocco keeps picking cheapshots and Jones resists, firing back instead with really nice dropkicks, and eventually flat out uppercutting Rocco with some awesome uppercuts. It did seem like they had Rocco dominate for too long to have such a relatively quick comeback win from Jones, but I suppose they were trying to express that Rocco tired himself out quicker by being an aggressive asshole. This was among my favorite Rocco matches I've seen. Later on he kind of became the WoS Kurt Angle, but here he was on point and vicious. This is a Rocco you could grow old with.

PAS: Really great escalation, as the match starts with some friendly grappling and really devolved into this vicious street fight. Rocco really showed great aggression going after the arm and Jones did a great job of selling the injuriy. Classic match of the virtuous babyface walking though hell to defeat a dastardly villain. I did think the ref got a little involved which hurt the flow of the match, I get that is the style, but having the ref in the faces of both wrestlers got annoying. I have no problem with the public warning system as a storytelling device, but here it was overshadowing the work in the match

Kox v. Murdoch review


ER: I wasn't really expecting this to be a close challenge, but it turned out to be fairly close. Kox/Murdoch gets the nod from me still, as two guys punching each other for 20 minutes is going to be tough for me to vote against, but this was a real blast, makes me want to see more 70s Rocco.

PAS: Yeah I liked this a bunch, but it didn't grab me anywhere near as much as KKK v. Dick

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Friday, January 27, 2017

EVOLVE 76 Live Blog

Wife and baby are asleep, so I figured I would check this out

Jaka v. Peter Kassa

I like Jaka a fair amount, although not enough to enjoy a longish Peter Kassa singles match. Jaka has some nice headbuts and works a grinding style which I enjoy, everything he does has some sting to it. Kassa has some nice athleticism, but his simple stuff looks bad (although that has gotten Okada pretty far). Match falls apart at the end when Kassa tries a second rope moonsault and the ring breaks dumping him on his head. Jaka finishes it quick and we have a delay as they try to fix it. Might be a short live blog.

Chris Dickinson v. Darby Allin

Fun match, this is the Dickinson I really dig, less of a fighting spirit babyface, more like a dipship meathead bully. Allin is a great underdog, he doesn't take as many insane bumps in this match, but does die on some in ring bumps. I especially loved Dickinsons dead lift German suplexes where he would snatch him right from the ground and dead lift. Allin kept avoiding the lawn dart, including countering it into a armdrag, and Allin gets the with with a roll up. Really fun compact match, with both guys performing their roles well.

DUSTIN v. Jason Kincaid

I really enjoyed Kincaid's hillbilly WOS of sport stuff, he wrestles like Checkmake Tony Charles impregnated an Arkansas ring rat during a WCCW tour. Early part of this match was fun with DUSTIN getting aggravated by Kincaids shtick, and say what you will about DUSTIN, he does a punchable douche face. This goes a bit long, although Kincaid has enough fun stuff to keep me engaged. Right guy went over, although it felt like DUSTIN needing to get a bunch of stuff in if he was laying down.

Zach Sabre Jr. v. Ethan Page

This is a grudge match, with ZSJ trying to get revenge on Page for convincing Gabe to put him over Sabre last year. I liked parts of this, as ZSJ torturing Page with submission holds was good fun, I especially liked the finish as ZSJ was DQ'ed for not releasing a triangle choke. Still grudge match means lots of strike exchanges and these are two guys you don't want to see exchange shots with each other.

ACH v. Matt Riddle

I liked this a fair amount, ACH is debuting and this was worked very much like an indy dream match. In many ways I am liking Riddle less as he gets more experience, early in his career he had this unique style, sort of crowbarish, kind of awesomely awkward, as he gets more polished he tends to work in more a indy workrate style, which isn't my thing. Still there was a lot to like here, especially when Riddle broke from modern wrestling convention. There was this point where ACH was running through all of these fancy counters and Riddle just upkicks him in the mouth and knees him in the jaw. I also loved him overwhelming ACH at the end, as a back and forth strike exchange turned into Riddle swamping him and KOing him. I didn't get a huge sense of what ACH brings to the table, but Riddle was well worth watching

Jeff Cobb/Timothy Thatcher v. Fred Yehi/Tracey Williams

This was a bunch of fun. Cobb and Thatcher remind me a lot of the Miracle Violence Connection, a little grinding, a little deliberate, but super powerful and violent. Yehi is one of the most fun guys in the world to watch wrestle, he comes at such odd angles and weird speeds, and I really like watching him counter Thatchers slow down style with bursts of energy. Cobb was great too wandering in and wrecking people with huge throws and big shots. Finish was pretty great with Yehi getting the surprise win over the champ, I really hope we get a big Yehi v. Thatcher title match if Cobb doesn't win tomorrow night.

Chris Hero v. Keith Lee

PAS: About two minutes into this match my stream dies, making that two straight EVOLVE shows I have tried to stream that have conked out during the main event. Totally lame, and it makes me regret the money I spent on this service. Totally bush league. Hopefully they put this up quick and I can watch this match this weekend.

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2016 Ongoing MOTY List: Hero v. Keith Lee

34. Chris Hero v. Keith Lee Beyond Wrestling 12/29

PAS: This was a more athletic version of those Takeshi v. Takeshi matches in early 2000s NOAH. Two big thick neck dudes pounding on each other with total disregard, but with some really nuttily athletic moves thrown in. Hero at one point counters a powerbomb with a snap hurricanrana, and Keith Lee missed a second rope moonsault, both spots were totally jaw dropping from guys this big. Keith Lee is still in the process of putting it together, but he is a crazy athlete, ex-college football player about 340, and has super explosive fast twitch muscle movement. I loved how both guys would get an advantage, get cocky, and get caught. Lots of shit talking being met with nasty right hands and big elbows. Lee was really great at selling headshots, all of that Football experience really allowed him to sell a concussion protocol. Hero was so great in this, he can put together great matches in so many different settings, and was willing to take a big beating to make Lee look great.

ER: Keith Lee is a beast. The way he moves is unreal. He looks like a poorly drawn Rob Leifeld superhero with an inhuman torso. He is 4x4, or Swoll, only with freaky athletic ability. Keith Lee: The Athletic No Limit Soldier wouldn't be a very relevant gimmick today, but man would he be my favorite WCW Saturday Night worker. And Hero is really great at crafting a match around any speed or size. Hero I think could craft a pretty neat match around 4x4, and that guy could barely move. So 4x4 who can do leapfrogs and a 2nd rope moonsault?? Yes please. We start with a bunch of great challenge spots, including Lee hitting Hero flush with a shoulderblock. Hero goes to do one of his own and instead lobs a no look jab at Lee's face...only to find his entire arm lost at sea because Lee saw it coming a mile away. Great spot...But not as great as Hero firing off an elbow only for Lee to catch it with his hand and flip Hero with a killer fireman's carry powerslam. Hero hits a brutal snap piledriver, Lee plants him with a huge powerbomb (earlier Hero had reversed a powerbomb with a slick big man rana), and while Lee has crazy size and impressive speed, Hero is crafty and picks some great spots to too his awesome kicks. I really loved the finishing run of elbows knocking Lee out standing. Phil is right that Lee really knows how to sell concussed, and Hero elbowing Lee in the brain stem to get him in position for the Gotch piledriver was a great finish.


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Thursday, January 26, 2017

2016 Ongoing MOTY List: Ki v. Galloway

47. Low-Ki v. Drew Galloway HOG 8/19

PAS: Ki debuted his 2016, world greatest Luchadore Sopressa gimmick here in House of Glory replacing Chris Dickinson (I liked Dickinson, but that is a huuuge upgrade) coming out in the Hitman suit and having a corker of a match with Galloway. Galloway is really great at using the ring and ringside and Ki takes some nasty bumps including getting flung ribs first into the ringpost. Match was fun with Ki sticking and moving and Galloway catching him with big throws. I especially liked Drew countering the Warriors Way by grabbing Ki by the suit lapels and overhead throwing him off the top. Loved the finish as Ki hogties Galloway with his tie and kicks him in the face and double stomps him in the small of the back. Really fun stiff battle, and I imagine how much fun it would have been to be in the crowd.

ER: Ki shows up so sparsely these days that it's always a treat when he does, and these two have styles that clash and mesh nicely. Galloway had probably the most notable match against Ki during the latter's Kaval run, and it's cool they keep matching up and adding twists to their stuff. Galloway thinks of some neat counters for Ki classics, and Ki flies around dangerously for some cool throws. Galloway works like a total monster here and Ki always lays out great on slams, especially loved the snap sit out powerbomb. The Warriors Way spot was especially cool, my favorite of the match, as Ki always makes sure to do little things so his opponent isn't just hanging out to dry like a nincompoop. The twist I like here is Ki is holding Drew down, and stomps right on his patella, but that causes Drew to lurch upwards in pain, and while up there he flings Ki ass over crown by the suit lapels. It was such a smart spot, and ended like someone getting their gi used against them in MMA. The hogtie spot also could have come across very cooperative, but Ki smartly grabs an arm in a sub while also burying a knee into Drew's back; any struggle from Galloway would have gotten his arm yanked more. The last bit of Galloway fighting with no hands was inspired, throwing headbutts but inevitably eating kicks to put him down for the most vicious double stomp.


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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

MLJ: Recent Uploads: Kahoz vs La Fiera [hair]

1996-07-09 @ Arena Coliseo
La Fiera vs Kahoz [hair]

This was a poor man's Sangre Chicana vs MS-1. That said, even a poor man's Sangre Chicana vs MS-1 is still a rich man's match. Lately, Kozmic Trooths (sic) has been posting more matches than I have time to watch, lots of stuff from mid-late 90s CMLL that's gone under the radar from the most part. I'm not going to write up the Cibernetico from 99 he posted, for instance, but it's a worth checking out as a fun look at where guys like Olimpico, Black Warrior, Ultimo Guerrero, and Rey Bucanero were at that point in their development.

What I am going to write about is this. I'm not entirely sure what the backstory was here. Kahoz had lost his mask to Shocker in 1995 (which seems very early for Shocker to pick up that sort of a win even if it was December and after he won the Gran Alternativa). I'm sure everyone knows that Kahoz was a gimmick that Pena himself had used but had given to Astro Rey in the 80s. I hadn't known that until now. Anyway, it doesn't look like there was a ton of build to this. It really doesn't matter.

This followed the beautifully minimalist Chicana vs MS-1 format, though here Fiera was a full tecnico. That meant that Kahoz took over early, spent long minutes beating Fiera to a pulp, bloodying him all around the ring and the ringside area. This was where Fiera shined, selling broadly, bleeding huge, drawing a ton of sympathy. There was little attempt to fight back but that just build up the pressure for the eventual comeback all the more. Kahoz ended the fall with three pick-up/drop downs in a row (which I'm not sure I've ever actually seen. He could have finished him but kept picking him up; more on that later), and a stepover submission. As a primera, it was just as good as MS-1 vs Chicana, I think, a bloody, brutal beating.

The segunda and tercera were still solid, even at times transcendent, but there just wasn't quite enough there to match the very best bloody one-sided brawls. In the moment, like with all Fiera tecnico performances, I kept waiting for the trademark spin-kick to signal the comeback. As a single move, it's not quite as good as Chicana's punch, but it's more stylized, flashier even if less visceral. He hit it early in the segunda, but not until countering a caught kick into an vicious enziguri. From there it was a short but utterly triumphant revenge beating, capped off with a picture perfect frog splash. The Tercera was more of the same, awesome punches, blood and selling, a spot-on kick to the back of the head to send Kahoz to the floor followed by exactly the tope the match needed, all capping with a finish that called back to Kahoz arrogantly picking Fiera back up in the primera.

There was also a commercial for "La Sexy Olympia," and normally, I'd post a gif, but this match is too good to distract from. Watch the match. You can catch the commercial right before the segunda. Like I said, if you like MS-1 vs Sangre Chicana, you'll probably like this too. Even though it's not as good, that's still as good a company as a hair match can be in.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

1983 Match of the Year

MS1 v. Sangre Chicana CMLL 9/23/83

PAS: The greatest match in wrestling history takes the #1 spot for 1983. I have probably watched this match 20+ times and love it as much each time. This has my favorite match structure for a 2/3 falls match. MS1 jumps Chicana in the aisle and brutally beats him, Chicana is spraying blood while MS1 struts around the ring. We have old ladies in the audience wiping his forehead with their handkerchiefs.  MS1 rolls the beaten and bloody Sangre into the ring, hits a top rope splash and pins him. Totally one sided beating, not a single moment of offense from Chicana. The second fall starts more of the same with MS1 in total control, and then we have a perfect wrestling transition, MS1 throws a big right and Sangre ducks it and hits this huge left hook, and the crowd blows up, he hits one more and then this maniacal tope to get the count out win. Chicana busts MS1 open in the beginning of the third fall and we have this crimson ballet in the third fall, with MS1 missing a couple of big top rope moves and succumbing to a submission to lose his hair.

Lots of little moments of violent beauty, Chicana's selling was great, he never recovers from the early beating he is always on the verge of passing out from blood loss, and he keeps hitting him self in the head to keep him self awake, I also loved how MS1 sold control seeping away from him, he is such a preening dickbag for the first part, and as soon as Chicana tees off you can see his composure breaking. The violence of the dives was great too, in wrestling now dives are more things of beauty then things of ugly, not here though, each dive was gritty, explosive and violent looking, less like a gymnast sticking a floor routine, and more like a strong safety leading with his helmet on a hit up the middle.

This feels like the apex of lucha brawling, you hope someday someone will find something better, but until they do this will reign supreme.

ER: Well this was wonderful. The pacing felt like this epic newsreel black and white fifties brawl, only live and in deep red color. I've seen precious little 80s Sangre Chicana, I'm more familiar with old grizzled Chicana that looked like Gregg Henry's disguise in Body Double. But this is just wonderful, classic pro wrestling, the type of match that would play in front of any crowd in any town in any era. The punches aren't clean but they read to the back. Chicana's big one punch comeback is amazing in its simplicity, just a simple duck and big left hook. Something tells me we'll be seeing similar comebacks when some 1983 Lawler challenges this. All of the bumps are spectacular in their realness, with Chicana stumbling around and dropping to a knee, both men taking fast hard bumps to a very painful looking floor and unforgiving ring. Sangre hits a killer tope, and later oles MS-1 into the front row. We cut to an old woman taking a long slow drag on a cigarette. MS-1's missed top rope moves are brutal, flopping on that big splash that won him the primera, and splatting on a big somersault senton. The whole thing is wrestling boiled down to its most primal, basic formula, and it's a classic.


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Monday, January 23, 2017

CWF Mid Atlantic Battle Cade 12/30/16

PAS: CWF-MA has been hyped a bunch by people I semi-trust, so I thought I would check out their big Supercard show, and I am sold.

Cain Justice v. Dirty Daddy

PAS: Cain Justice is doing a strip mall black belt gimmick, and comes out with his Judo sensei and sparring partners like a meth lab Aoyagi. Dirty Daddy is a guy doing a Human Tornado style funky black dude deal. Really fun rookie match which delivers some big moves and nice bumping by both guys. I did think that Justice probably should have avoided the Pentagon bomb if that wasn't going to be the finish, especially in a fed which bans piledrivers, I did really like Justice's arm submission though, really nasty looking and something which would differentiate him from most guys in this fed.

Zane and Dave Dawson v. Devin Dalton/Walter Eaton

PAS: The Dawsons have a great wrestling look, big, fat long greasy beards, wrestling never has enough fat biker tag teams. Dalton and Eaton were guys who had held tag team titles with different partners and came out to respond to an open challenge. Stiff energetic tag match which doesn't wear out it's welcome. Four guys smacked each other for five minutes or so and then one fat guy hits a big clothesline and gets a pin. Really like how these undercard matches tell a story, have some nice work and keep it rolling.

Smith Garrett v. Aric Andrews

PAS: This is for the TV title, Garrett gets jumped by Xsiris coming to the ring and gets dropped on his head, he gets helped to the back and Andrews calls for a count. Garrett crawls back just beating the count and we get a nice bit of classic wrestling business. Garrett gets a couple of kick outs, a bit of hope and then gets beat. We leave this wanting Garrett to get his hands on Xsiris, and  get a rematch against Andrews. Again I really like the simplicity of the storytelling.

Aaron Biggs/Mecha Mercenary v. The Storm of Entrails

PAS: I really love how CWF-MA have embraced the giant fat dude in wrestling. EVOLVE could really use some more big fat guys. Biggs and Mercenary are the Sandwich squad and are probably 380 each. The Storm of Entrails are CZW trainees and have the stage crew at a metal fest look that CZW cultivates, Shlak especially is built like a brick shithouse and covered head to toe in creepy tattoos, if a guy will do that to his face, what will he do to yours. This was another fun tag match, with all four guys landing meat hooks, I really like the CZW teams double top rope elbow, and the Sandwich squad has a lot of cool double teams which take advantage of their flab. Another compact entertaining match.

Lee Valiant v. Chet Sterling

PAS: This is for the Ultra J title and is no-DQ piledrivers legal match. This is worked as a juniors sprint with both guys throwing out some pretty big moves quickly. Sterling looked a little off in some of his stuff, but I really liked Valiant, nasty punches and his offense looked really crisp. Sterling has been injured by a piledriver earlier in the year, so he gets his revenge with an avalanche tombstone, which gets the three count and I assume a vacation for Valiant. I do like how in this fed a death move mean death.

Ethan Alexander Sharpe/Him/Sis/Kabuki Ni/Otto Schwanz/The Number Boy v. Donnie Dollars/Matty De Nero/Mitch Conner/Snooty Fox/Rob McBride/Qefka the Quiet

PAS: This was kind of a fill out the card 12 man tag with a bunch of wacky gimmicks. I liked parts of this, Otto Schwanz is a old OMEGA dude and it was fun to see him wreck fools, and I have always enjoyed Boogie Woogie Man Rob McBride and there was a nifty spot where he blocked Kabuki's mist with a pair of workmans googles. Still I really hate Qefka the Quiet and Sharpe working invisible lasso spots in the beginning of the match. One of the cool things about CWF Mid-Atlantic is its sincerity, so stupid winky Chikara shit like that is really out of place.

CW Anderson v. Ric Converse

PAS: I really enjoyed this, Anderson and Converse are a pair of old school dudes who have been wrestling since the 90s and wrestle like they are from the 70s. Lots of big right hands and nice clotheslines. Anderson looks and wrestles like he has been frozen in amber since 2002. Still has that great right hand, and nasty spinebuster. I really liked the finish of this with Anderson hitting a superkick to the back of the head and slapping on the crossface causing Converse to pass out. Loved the idea of a kick to the back of the head be a KO, especially one as nasty looking as Anderson's superkick

Nick Richards v. Roy Wilkins

PAS: Roy Wilkins is working sort of a Zybyzko style technical heel. Lots of counter wrestling along with cheap shotting and stalling (although having a cheapshotting Black heel named after the head of the NAACP during the civil rights movement is a weird bit of retrograde booking by a Southern fed). The story the announcers were putting out was that Wilkins was a technician while Richards was a brawler. The match was worked well around that story including Richards getting the upset by beating the wrestler with a wrestling move. Unfortunately I thought Richards look pretty bad here, and didn't have the execution to pull off the story being told, his brawling looked off and there were moments where he didn't seem to be on the same page with his opponent. I left this wanting to see more Wilkins, but not particularly happy that Richards seems to be getting a big push.

Arik Royal v. Andrew Everett

PAS: First I have seen Arik Royal and he is pretty great, works really stiff, has cool power moves and is an awesome dickish shit talker. There is a point near the end of the match where he has Everett tied up in the ropes and he yells at Everett's niece in the audiance "Andrew isn't coming home tonight" before nuking him with a running uppercut. I have seen Everett work in super indies, but this was by far my favorite match of his, he is comes into the match with an awesome blitz, flying recklessly into Royal, including hitting three crazy dives in a row, I really liked the story of coming out 100 miles an hour and trying to catch Royal off guard, he is also a really reckless in ring bumper, landing super fast and super awkward into the turnbuckles and ring ropes. Match might have gone a bit too long, but they did build to a pretty cracking finish.

Brad Attitude v. Trevor Lee

PAS: This was the apex of a months long feud between the two that started with Attitude turning on Lee and braining him with a beer bottle, and then taunting him at shows that Lee wasn't booked at. Finally to get his hands on Attitude, Lee agreed to a match with a 30 minute time limit, where if he didn't beat Attitude he would lose the belt, also if he got DQed he would lose the belt, but Attitude could wrestle the match no DQ. It is a nifty piece of wrestling bullshit which feels like something The Bullet would have to do to get his hands on Jimmy Golden.

Attitude is awesome in the build up to this and in the match. He is working a failed prospect gimmick, a guy who had his shot at the big leagues (he was on a bunch of early EVOLVE shows and was a WWE developmental guy) but washed out and is now bitter. Now this kid he helped train is the new hot shit indy star working PWG and TNA and he can't take it, this was like if David Carr broke a beer bottle over Derek's head.

Early in the match Attitude dickishly taunts Lee, stalling and killing time, trying to get Lee intentionally DQ'ed, however by the end of the match, all of that is out of the window and he is clearly trying to prove he is better and pin the champ. You don't usually see that kind of character arc in a wrestling match. Lee is fine in this, although it really feels like Attitudes match, I did his firery die on the sword attitude, and he did a nice job of conveying his fury at Brad, but stopping short of losing his cool and his belt. He also took a nasty side of the head chair shot, which either busted him open legit or was a nice excuse for a blade job.

Finish is something I am a little torn on, during Attitude's rampage he had cut the ponytail of one of the refs. After a couple of other refs are laid out  that ref come out slow counts for Attitude and looks the other way as Lee smashes Brad in the head with the bottle. I get that it makes narrative sense, but it feels like a cop out, the better story was either the valiant babyface overcoming impossible odds and prevailing anyway, or the dastardly heel stacking the deck too high. Having Lee win by out cheating Attitude is kind of weak sauce.

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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Matches from EVOLVE 59 4/2/16

1. Drew Galloway/Johnny Gargano vs. Drew Gulak/Tracy Williams

ER: This started out more mundane than I was hoping for, but the second half was killer. Williams at this point seems like a guy with some high peak performances, whose floor usually falls somewhere in the bland territory. I did enjoy some of his rolling with Gargano, even if a lot of it looked a little too smooth and floaty. Galloway takes a nice post bump to the floor, but the first half of this really did drag. BUT the first half does set up some neat stuff that gets cashed in during the second half. Reversals, payoffs, longer term stuff. So you can't say the first half was a waste, at all. Gargano's hot tag run was fun, and when he hit the superman spear I was already thinking it seemed like something that shouldn't work. So when Williams caught it late in the match and planted him with a brainbuster, I was a satisfied customer. I also really liked Gulak and Gargano's strike exchange, Gulak especially. It started out with normal open strikes and then Gulak ramped up faster and suddenly he was blocked and going to the body and it looked awesome. Made it seem so much more special than a typical exchange. Gulak and Williams had some fun double teams, especially loved when Gargano was trying to lock the chickenwing onto Gulak, and Gulak made a blind tag and whipped Gargano off him and right into a nasty Williams lariat. Timing was impeccable on it. We get a nice run of well timed "I hit this guy, someone hits me, someone hits him" offense that can come off like something they rehearsed in slo mo in the back, but here came off much more like familiarity with opponents. Probably went too long, but also possible the first half made it seem longer than it really was. Still a quality tag.

2. Chris Hero vs. Fred Yehi

PAS: Really great bully performance by Hero he is totally contemptuous of Yehi making fun of his height, smacking him around really being an asshole. Yehi fights back with his nasty offense including stomping on his instep and ankle. Hero gets more and more frustrated and more and more violent. Hero is just unloading on Yehi landing some disgusting shots to the back of Fred's head. Meanwhile Yehi is doing an awesome job of dying on his shield. Overmatched but game youngster versus vicious veteran is a classic wrestling trope and both guys do it great. Wouldn't think that superman shirt IWA-MS Chris Hero would turn into Tenryu, but he is a great Tenryu.

ER: Phil knows how much I love the overmatched youngster against cranky veteran, so I was pretty amped for this one, and I gotta say it delivered. Dismissive Hero is a wonderful thing and while dismissive Hero never really gets total comeuppance, it's always a treat to see guys try. Yehi has a bunch of great little things to annoy opponents with, stomps to annoying places, strikes you don't expect, and annoyed Hero is fun for the viewer and rarely fun for the opponent. The mat stuff was cool and weirdly unexpected, as Yehi matches tend to be sub 10 and I didn't expect them to run with a bunch of cool reversals to start. But they work several cool things around arms, and my favorite early moment was when Yehi was up on the middle buckle and Hero was antagonizing him, and Yehi jumped off at him to grab a headlock in mid air. It looked like when one housecat is sitting on the back of the couch, and the other housecat is being an asshole and not letting him jump down, so he just wiggles his butt and jumps right down onto that asshole cat. And Hero was being a real asshole bully housecat here. Hero would do some signature offense, but in more aggravating ways, namely when he roughly grabbed his cravate. There was no finesse to it, he just kind of grabbed Yehi's head in his hands and wrestled them into cravate position and kind of yanked him down to the mat. It felt like he really wanted to show Yehi how domineering he was. Loved when Yehi did a Flair roll up the buckles and Hero was way ahead of him and met him with a pump kick, sending Yehi off the apron. They got crossed up during a couple strike exchanges, but it kind of made it look like both guys trying to fake the other out, trying to get the other to take the bait. All the shots to the back of Yehi's head looked pretty gross, and you assumed Yehi didn't have a chance, but both men are so damn good at their roles that they just take you along.

3. Matt Riddle vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

PAS: Very cool clash of mat styles, I really loved the way Riddle would counter out of a wacky Sabre british hold with an armbar or ankle lock, and Sabre would flip out of a choke into a goofy wrist lock. It reminded me a bit of the early UWF matches when some one like Marty Jones would come in and work Maeda or Kido. Both guys are little rougher around the edges then true masters of their style, but I appreciate ambition in mat wrestling, and there was ambition in spades. Some of the stand up was a bit wonky, ZSJ needs to take that crappy looking penalty kick and bury it deep in the ground, and Riddle will still pull some stuff a bit when he should just lay out, still you watch this match for the grappling and that was a blast. Always loved the Twister in MMA, and it is a nifty move to bring into pro-wrestling.

ER: I also liked this, and Phil's "Marty Jones coming to UWF" was an apt comparison. This had plenty of cool escapes and subs which was exactly what I was hoping for. Sabre twists Riddle up a bunch, and does a bunch of neat little things like grabbing the opposite leg on a drop toe hold or all the ways he would try bending Riddle's arm. Riddle grabbing the Muto lock was probably my favorite moment, as Sabre was making faces as if he were actually being choked. It looked painful as hell, and Sabre grabbing Riddle's hand and bending it back to get him to break was worked as more of a desperation escape than normal. Usually the hand bending is more sadistic or show-offy, so I liked it as a last gasp. Riddle's throws were really impressive and Sabre always folds in fun ways when tossed. 10 minutes was the perfect length as we didn't devolve into silly strike exchanges and instead mostly went from mat stuff to throws to finish.

ER: I skimmed or skipped over the rest of the show, cherry picking the stuff that really interested me. And my instincts were pretty good as Yehi/Hero and Riddle/Sabre both landed on our 2016 ONGOING MOTY MASTER LIST, and that's always a good thing.

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Saturday, January 21, 2017

All Time MOTY List HEAD to HEAD Honda v. Kobashi V. Honda v. Saito

Tamon Honda v. Akitoshi Saito NOAH 3/30/03

ER: This is a match to determine the #1 contender to Kobashi's GHC title, and it's a killer game of Saito unloading more offense than he's probably ever unloaded in a match, while Honda was desperately trying to survive. Both men went hard, harder than usual. Honda isn't really a guy known for his strikes, more for his grappling and freaky tendon strength. But here Honda lobbed stiff elbows and stiff arm lariats in a way I've never really seen from him. They start with some nasty-as-expected shoulderblocks and from there Saito mostly takes over, ripping into Honda's knee with kicks, going after him with elbows and chops, cutting him to the mat with an axe kick, even getting to hit the Dead End before Honda even attempts it. Honda fires back with occasional headbutts, lariats and elbows but his knee keeps getting kicked (and him propping Honda's leg on the ropes and kicking it looked brutal), and Honda makes that knee injury look great. So as Saito keeps dishing a beating, Honda's muscle memory kicks in, and he just starts grounding Saito with the Olympic Hell. He turns pinfalls into it, tosses in his rolling version, even throws in an Olympic Hell suplex that I don't recall seeing (and thanks to the doofus camera work we didn't even see Honda hit his Dead End, as the director chose to cut to a 10 second shot of bored ass Kobashi at commentary. Thanks guys!), and Saito starts to wilt. After everything else fell short, Honda just spammed the Olympic Hell and wore Saito out. And while the finish does kind of come out of nowhere, and somewhat feels like Saito controlled 75% of the match, Saito passing out unexpectedly nicely put over the OH as a submission that should not be taken lightly, and one that could make for an immediate comeback.

PAS:  I really loved this when it happened and loved it again each time on rewatch. I didn't remember Saito using Honda's moves, but early in this he hits both a Dead End and an Olympic Hell, which was odd but kind of cool, you didn't really see that kind of thing in early 2000s NOAH. Saito was also really brutal with his kicks to the knee, Honda has these big lumpy looking knee braces under his tights and Saito was teeing off on them. I loved Honda's run of Olympic Hell variations, he feels like a anaconda who just tightens and tightens his grip, he can hit that move out of anywhere no matter how hurt he is, and if he locks it tight, you will be blowing spit bubbles. Though that it kind of came out of nowhere made it even better. Great match, career match from Saito and a notch in Honda's belt.

Honda v. Kobashi review


ER: I really loved this match, but it has nowhere near the drama of the title match a couple weeks later. And not just the crowd really getting behind Honda, but the build itself within the match felt larger. Kobashi's star power combined with the fans finally viewing Honda as a threat, and the drama that comes with a title bout, makes the champ an easy winner for me.

PAS: I think I might have liked the actual work in this a little better, I really loved Saito as a crowbar and Honda fighting through the asskicking to grab a choke was cool stuff, plus the right guy went over. Still the big matchiness of the Kobashi match has to win in a MOTY battle.

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Friday, January 20, 2017

2016 Ongoing MOTY List: Ishii v. Shibata

75. Tomohiro Ishii v. Katsuyori Shibata NJPW 2/11/16

ER: I don't typically go out for Ishii stuff, but this one kind of ended up entrancing me. It was this weirdly worked, cooperative match, professional match...but with both guys agreeing to do every "worked" move as hard as they possibly could. So the match started almost immediately with the two just standing in front of each other, taking turns elbowing each other. It's stupid at first, but then it keeps going, and it keeps going, and it seems stuck on an endless loop of shots that keep getting harder and more ill-intentioned. Ishii is taking shots to the throat, Shibata is taking shots in the neck and trap. The shots look crippling. And they keep happening. And the whole match is essentially move trading, and dick swinging...and it kind of takes you over. It's like Bad Lieutenant: Harvey Keitel's cop starts the movie at rock bottom. And new, rockier rock bottoms keep presenting themselves. This match starts with men hitting each other as hard as they can, and moves into clotheslining each other as hard as possible, kicking each other as hard as possible. The shots to the neck and throat keep happening, every Ishii clothesline looks like it should cave in Shibata's chest. Even the missed moves missed with meanness. A Shibata soccer kick, a low cutting Ishii lariat, these moves are dodged and ducked, but if they somehow weren't they would have been devastating. So the whole match has this vibe of one-upsmanship and "I'm tougher than you", except it's never unprofessional. It's an almost surreal vibe, and I dug it. Maybe the first "Ishii stiff fest" I've enjoyed.

PAS: I though the first part of this match was pretty terrible. Both guys hitting each other and making goofy faces, the worst of this kind of lame-o New Japan dick swinging. Lots of the shots weren't even that nasty, some of the shots to the throat were, but the elbows weren't that nasty, and the chops weren't Tenryu or Wahoo level or anything. The spot where each guy invites the other dude to suplex him was some dump ass Chikara shit, I almost excpected Ishii to hypnotize Shibabta or throw an invisible grenade. The second part of the match was an actually wrestling match with selling and transitions and everything and was pretty good. I liked Shibata going for the triangle choke and how he kept adjusting it, and the Ishii lariats were super nasty and were actually sold. I also loved the headbutts, it got a little Futenish near the end which I am into. I do think the PK is a weak finisher especially compared to some of the stuff which didn't finish the match from both guys. Liked the end enough to stick this on the bottom of the list, but it isn't going any higher.


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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Brian Kendrick is So Messed Up He Wants You Here

Brian Kendrick/Paul London vs. The Young Lions (Lucky Kid/Tarkan Aslan) (DWA 4/5/14) - FUN

ER: What a confounding match; one which, while I was watching, had a feeling would completely break Phil. The next day when I told him about it, Phil sure enough proclaimed that he had watched enough professional wrestling in his life, and that he was done. His first act as a human who doesn't watch pro wrestling will be to start watching Ray Donovan, where he can enjoy modern performances by great old guys like James Woods, Stacy Keach, Dabney Coleman, and Elliott Gould, and not have to listen to me tell him about matches that he would hate. Because this was a confounding match. The good was really great. The bad was the exact kind of thing I hate in wrestling. This was in Germany at what appeared to be a tiny hunting lodge. The building was small, and there couldn't have been many people in attendance. The match begins with them playing musical chairs for 5 minutes. WAIT NO KEEP READINGGG!!! All four men played musical chairs, Aqua's Barbie Girl played (and stopped, intermittently, per the rules), and it was actually 5 minutes. Paul London made a lot of really lame gay jokes ("I like girls dude!" as the music stopped and Aslan sat on his lap), and they completed the musical chairs, the match actually started.

And it didn't take too long to get really good. Paul London, especially, was awesome. He matched up with Lucky Kid, who appeared to be basically working like 2007 Brian Kendrick or Paul London, complete with overly baggy vinyl shorts. They both did some shoot shoulderblocks with London challenging to hit him off the ropes as hard as possible, naturally building to London hitting a dropkick. Their mat work was fast and landed hard, especially a great go behind waistlock takedown from London. The clubs to the back looked good, and Kendrick/London were great at cutting off the ring. The musical chairs bit was becoming a distant memory, something I could easily tell people "Just start the video at the 5:00 mark".  And then, out of nowhere, the match reverted to comedy, and stayed that way until the end, 7 minutes later. It's like they had all planned on working a normal match until the got a signal, and once that signal hit, the actual match was over. All four men got into the ring, stood in a circle, and just took turns chopping each other. For 5 minutes. Everybody just chopped the person to their right. For 5 minutes. Then the ref got involved, clotheslined London and Kendrick, everybody involved collapsed into a pile, more gay jokes happened, and then the match ended with a sunset flip. That 7 minutes in the middle was so much fun and was really going to a great place. And then they had to go and make Phil finally quit professional wrestling for good.

Brian Kendrick vs. TJ Perkins (WWE Raw 1/2/17) - SKIPPABLE

ER: Alright, bringing some fresh match-ups into the new year! Been waiting for these two to lock horns for awhile now. Wait AND it's under 3 minutes long?? Yeah you don't need this. Even in a total throwaway match Kendrick drops in a few cool moments, especially his weirdo little leap through the ropes to send TJ recoiling back into the ring. The sliced bread reversal was fine and there was nothing terrible about it, it's just that the whole thing was unnecessary.

Brian Kendrick vs. Cedric Alexander (WWE Raw 1/16/17) - SKIPPABLE

ER: These short TV matches have been some pretty uninspiring stuff, and I'm someone who likes short TV matches. This mostly felt like a Cedric showcase, which is a shame as he wasn't on his A game. He does this ugly split legged moonsault to the floor that looked like he was trying it for the first time on a lark, sloppily crashing knees first into Kendrick's head. That was the worst offender as none of his stuff looked very good. Match picks up when Cedric goes for the lumbar check and Kendrick rakes his eyes and yanks at his nose to drop down into the bully choke and I'm digging it...but then Alicia Fox runs out to continue the confusing and poorly acted love triangle plot, made slightly more bearable as I believe Kendrick calls her "toots". We get one more cool bully choke finish tease, but Cedric hits the lumbar check fairly effortlessly after that. Kendrick takes it really nasty, less spring than other guys but his landing looks more brutal, like parts of his body all landed at different times. Nice Kendrick performance, poor Cedric performance, lame angle continuation.


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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

2017 Ongoing MOTY List: America Alpha v. Wyatt Family

1. American Alpha v. Bray Wyatt/Randy Orton WWE Smackdown 1/10

ER: Fun little gem from SDL, worked like a mid 90s Rock n Rolls/Heavenly Bodies match. Orton and Wyatt have been putting in their best work in a couple years (maybe more in Orton's case) as a team, and I'm glad they got a nice long TV match against AA. They were really fun cutting off Gable, loved the sequence with Bray allllmost hitting Sister Abigail. Orton was working like his dad, hit a killer slingshot suplex, and really looked revitalized in the ring in a way I haven't noticed in ages. Bray too as he was looking really explosive, getting big height on his senton, running super fast on his avalanche. Gable hit an unexpected somersault senton off the apron and was doing anything to get ahead of the Wyatts, and while Jordan is a fine hot tag we all knew it was building to a big Gable hot comeback. We'll avoid talking about his punches (because man were those some bad punches) but Gable was awesome using his body as a weapon. Big crossbody, boss german suplex, just tearing around the ring flying into fools. Harper was integrated well and that guy really needs a singles push, and I could really get used these kind of tags on SDL every week.

PAS: Orton may have really found his lane as a heel tag worker, Heavenly Bodies isn't the right comp, as there was no stooging and comedy here, this was more like an Andersons tag match with both Wyatt and Orton being simple and vicious. Orton's chinlock and Garvin Stomp work way better in a tag setting, than as time killers in singles matches. AA are both still pretty green, but they have some great suplexes and a lot of energy and great suplexes and energy will go a long way. Too bad they are moving towards a Wyatt breakup because this tag team is the most I have enjoyed these guys in years.


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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

1981 Match of the Year

Andre the Giant v. Stan Hansen NJPW 9/23/81

PAS: The greatest King Kong v. Godzilla match in wrestling history and that is one of the most fun styles of wrestling ever. Worked exactly as you want it to be, both guys hurl right into each other, Hansen is so awesome here, you can't turn a sledgehammer into a scalpel, so he going to smash right into Andre even if a monster comes calling. One thing I noticed re-watching this was how great Andre is at working simple holds, when he grabs an arm it really feels like he is going to rip it off and floss with it. The restart and Andre killing the ref for a DQ were perfect spots for this match, no reason to think this war would be contained by the rules, and it made perfect sense that this would end with both guys smashing the ring boys trying to keep them apart. Andre getting hit with the lariat and spilling outside only to come back to kill the ref was a great bit of business. Hansen finally hit Goliath with the slingshot (although this match was more Goliath v. smaller Goliath) and when you wound a maddog he is going to lash out. Not an enormous fan of Face Andre, but Evil violent Andre is one of my favorite wrestlers ever, and this is one of his masterpieces.

ER: My #1 match from the New Japan 80s set! Monster vs monster, hoss vs. hoss, two enormous men bashing the hell out of each other. There's too much I love about this and it's no different from what everybody else loves about it. Andre ripping at the arm is so amazing to see in this modern day of Catch Point, because as he was bending and wringing out that lariat arm it looked exactly the same as somebody like Gulak or Thatcher doing it. Andre as Billy Robinson just seems unfair. The Hansen elbow drop that Andre turns into an armbar just incredible. I love all of Andre's bumping. As I watched it I tried to think why Big Show's bumping never hit me on the same level as Andre's did. Big Show was bigger, it should be more impressive! But I think it never hit me as much because Big Show is taking bumps, whereas Andre looks like a man trying not to fall. Big Show bumps like a giant version of anybody. Andre looks like a real time avalanche. The bump to the floor off the lariat was perfection, his fall into the ropes from Hansen's opening match short lariat was perfect (with him falling into Hansen, into the ropes), his teetering and lumbering and stumbling were perfect. Hansen would batter him with these short strikes and every time Andre would eventually grab at him and just knock him silly. Both men completely understood everything about what would make this work: They knew how fans saw them, Hansen knew he was a monster, Andre knew Hansen was a monster, Andre knew he was the bigger monster, Hansen knew Andre was the bigger monster. Seems easy, but there are so many wrestlers that work the same match regardless of opponent, that seeing two guys with massive presence, that both fully grasped WHY they both worked so well, is just a wrestling gift. This match will be hard to beat.


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Monday, January 16, 2017

Lucha Worth Watching: Overkill!!

Since overkill is the new canon best style in professional wrestling history, I thought we'd look at a couple recent lucha matches that had both had a) overkill to the nines, and that b) I enjoyed a lot.

Valiente vs. Ultimo Guerrero (CMLL 6/17/16)

ER: Real quality Arena Mexico singles match with a hot crowd that made the big moves feel like a big deal. CMLL singles matches typically disappoint me, as those neverending terceras filled with heatless near fall trading until something inevitably finishes things just make me completely impatient. This managed to work within that formula, while surpassing the same old tired feelings that formula creates. This actually felt like a big stips match to me, despite going into it not knowing why Valiente got a title shot, and despite never having cared about any sort of lucha title reign. But I got sucked into this one. We get a bunch of fun mat stuff, like Ultimo does in his indy matches, but more importantly Valiente actually got a chance to shine on the mat, something we don't often get to see (and those watching TV would not get to see, as Lucha Azteca cut 4 minutes of his mat stuff out of the match). I loved the leg bar stuff and that weird freaky Backlund-ish arm lift. Valiente's weird single leg indian deathlock sub looks really painful and I have zero problems with Ultimo screaming the second Valiente leans back with it. I like the direction things take as they spill to the floor, with Valiente wildly getting out there by Fuerza-ing himself, leading to Ultimo tossing him into the crowd and then nailing him with his hip attack. Valiente came off more like a star in this match than I've seen him in some time, and his big moves all looked spectacular. Those fast and stocky topes, that gorgeous Valiente Special moonsault to the floor, even his sometimes silly offense looked devastating, like his tombstone jawjacker that catches UG in the teeth. There was certainly overkill, but I think it built in a far more satisfying way than typical CMLL singles. It really felt like Valiente was pulling out all the stops and he was able to convey that great.

Rey Escorpion vs. Teddy Hart (Liga Elite 7/21/16)

ER: Super flawed but super fun match, with so much overkill that some jersey metal head is blaring it from his 1989 Nissan Sentra. Teddy Hart is a tough bastard who is usually too interested in bullshit to be tough. Escorpion is a guy who likes to punch people and Hart is a guy who you want to see get punched. We do some fun roll-y stuff, and you can see the moment where Rey lets Teddy know what kind of match this is going to be. They're working some arm stuff and Rey is pinning him, and kicks the heel of his boot right across Teddy's face. From there Teddy takes plenty of stiff shots, runs into boots, and delivers a couple nice punches of his own. Teddy comes off like an aloof douche, but he has no problem leaning into shots so who cares! Rey drops a huge leg, and all his covers are extra nasty in the way he grinds his forearm into Hart's face. The overkill gets ridiculous with both dudes getting dumped on their heads with flipping piledrivers and Rey getting powerbombed in sick fashion over Hart's knees. But while the kickouts got silly, I liked so much of their stiffness and attention to little things, that I still really dug the match overall.

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

I Also Watched Omega vs. Okada

So this has pretty easily been the most talked about wrestling match of the new year, with some wildly divergent opinions. Phil watched it last week and didn't like it, and he and I tend to match up on opinion 80+% of the time. But since so many are talking about this match I just had to see it for myself. Also, I wanted to see if I would get one of those giant cardboard checks for being the one millionth person to write an opinion on this match on the internet.

And I ended up liking this match more than I expected to. Also, I hated this match more than I expected to. Instead of writing a couple of supergraphs going over match analysis, I figure I'll just toss out some shorter observations in no order of importance.

Omega put on an athletically freakish performance, the type of performance we may be able to look back on and pinpoint exact moments where he body started to die. His bumps were insane, and not just the epic backdrop through a table, but all of his bumps off of almost any Okada strike. Now, what's really absurd, is the VAST disconnect between Omega's bumps, and Okada's shitty, shitty strikes. Okada's the champ, he's the man, sure. But Omega bumps for him as if Okada were Stan Hansen. But a Stan Hansen who was an astronaut, whose body was rebuilt with bionic parts by OSI. I guess it would have been easier to make a Stone Cold Steve Austin joke right there. ANYWAY, by the end this started to feel like the Hulk Hogan/Shawn Michaels match, with one guy throwing a shitty back elbow while the other guy launches himself 10 feet across the ring, lands on the back of his neck, flips into the ropes and then rebounds off the ropes. It's like Omega was fighting against fucking Iron Man. All of Okada's offense is built around his opponent making it look good. It NEVER looks good otherwise. He needs guys to take dangerous bumps off the top rope from a floaty dropkick, needs guys to dump themselves on their head after a lariat, needs guys to sell his awful strikes. And Omega's bumping was so damn violent the whole match, that it looked almost comical when you watched what was supposedly causing him to get bumped like that. Standard dropkick? Fly backwards as fast as you can into the corner! Omega was killing himself out there, while Okada looked like a guy who would have gotten his jaw kicked in on a WAR undercard.

The 6 star rating is going to mean it gets compared instantly with matches like Misawa/Kawada, which isn't going to do any favors to Omega/Okada. When you essentially call a match "perfect" you're practically begging people to look for imperfections, which isn't really fair. And I did not try to do that. But one major thing I noticed about this match was just how often a guy did something only so his opponent could do a move. There were so many moments of Omega running at Okada, only to get hit with a backbreaker or elbow...but Omega had nothing planned himself. Was he just planning on running into Okada? They weren't even attempting to make these things look like a reversal, even though the whole match was built around reversals. It's sloppy move planning, something you never saw in Misawa/Kawada. If Kawada was going to run into an elbow, he wouldn't just run full steam across the ring with his arms at his sides.

For a match built around two guys obsessively trying to hit their finishers, goddamn do they have two of the most convoluted finishers in wrestling. Okada just can't lariat his opponent, he has to do a 7 step polka before doing so; Omega can't just do a Michinoku driver, he has to bury his head up Okada's ass to lift him up on his shoulders in a seated position, fumble around to lock a couple of arms, drape his leg a certain way, it's absurd. This isn't Misawa dropping to a knee and doing everything he could to sandbag a folding powerbomb, this was two guys working together to perform needlessly complicated moves. Do you know how hard it would be to get someone seated on your shoulders, if that person even slightly didn't want to? And this is just talking their awful finisher set up, there are plenty of other moves that you'd really have to think hard to figure out who performed a move, and who was supposed to be impacted by the move. The worst offender was Omega hitting some sort of large leaping leg lariat/bulldog, but just leapfrogging over Okada's head while Okada just kind of fell on his face. I have no clue what it was supposed to be, but apparently it hurt one of them?

We don't need to go into how fucking terrible Red Shoes is. He turned in another all time worst performance in this one. His mannerisms are so distracting. I don't understand them. Omega takes a move and both men are lying on the mat, and he just gets right in between them and waves his arms toward Omega, like he's just saying "Cover him! Cover him! Cover him! Okada! Cover Omega! Omega is on the mat! Cover him! Now! On the mat!" just waving his arms like he's trying to fan away the biggest fart. He gives these hand directions the entire match. "Pick him up! Lift him! Do a move!" He's the absolute worst.

To end on a more positive note, I really liked Omega's kneelifts and knee strikes. Knee attacks can be a tough sell, and Omega's looked as good as Chris Hero's best. They certainly looked more devastating than anything Okada did. Also, for a 45 minute match, I must say it didn't feel nearly that long. I think that's a major compliment. Despite how flawed I thought the match and execution were, the time flew by. That's not necessarily what I look for when watching wrestling ("This thing I watch for fun didn't feel like a chore to sit through!") but it's a definite feather in the cap for the match. 45 minutes of wrestling CAN be a chore, and this wasn't.

I would love to see Omega work someone who could tone him down, as he has a lot of things I could really like about him. And for his own sake, he should tone down the bumps, for his own health and from a match psychology standpoint. Once you bump huge for every move big and small it starts going down that "everybody reverses the Angle lock 5 times in a match" path. Once you're flying across the ring and landing on your neck for shitty Okada strikes, it makes the actual big moves in a match look less important and less dangerous by comparison.

I'm glad I watched it, glad that I saw for myself what was getting all of this hype. I'm excited to see just how much is still memorable to me by the end of the year.

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Saturday, January 14, 2017

All Time MOTY List HEAD to HEAD: FUTEN War V. IWRG bloodbath

Black Terry/Dr. Cerebro/Chico Che v. El Hijo Del Diablo/Avisman/Gringo Loco IWRG 3/7/10

PAS: Black Terry Jr. HH are one of my favorite things in the history of wrestling, and this was one of my favorite examples of the art. His filming style is so great, especially for this kind of out of control bloody brawl. You get these great close ups of bloody faces, with each shot looking like it could be a pullout in one of those grittier non-Apter wrestling magazines I used to read at DeLauers newsstand in Downtown Oakland. The Gringo team dominates the first part of this match bloodying up all three luchadores. Nasty stuff including pulling out cacti and digging them into the open wounds. We get a great fired up technico comeback with Chico Che looking especially awesome. He had this one year or so run in IWRG where he was incredible, and then he disappeared. It was right up there with Hiroyuki Ito's U-Style run as one of the great short periods in wrestling history, he was like lucha John Cazale. Che has these super heavy right hands that look like he is putting all of his considerable weight behind each shot, he also ran through this incredible signature run of headscissors and armdrags, nothing I love more then fat luchadores who can fly. This was another awesome Terry performance as well. He is so emotive in brawls, he is amazing as the old broken down warrior who keeps fighting because that is all he knows.

 I can just see him retired on a ranch somewhere, and Dr. Cerebro showing up "we have some American's down here causing trouble", "I don't do that anymore Doc, I am done", "They are calling you out Terry, saying you don't have the guts to strap on the boots, I came down here looking for a legend, I guess an old story is all I found, I leave you be." "Wait Doc, you bastard, let me get my trunks."

ER: This is a flat out lucha classic, a true gift to the community from BTJr. His handheld work is majestic and makes this feel more out of control than it even was, and it was plenty out of control. To use an already sadly dated reference, the whole match felt like that amazing chaotic tracking shot from season 1 True Detective, just chaos and brutality lurking around every turn of the camera. When I hear people say they don't get lucha, or just don't like lucha, I have to assume they haven't seen matches like this. Bloody brawls are like the universal wrestling language and this had it all. The disrespectful foreigners, valiant hometown heroes, a fat guy, an old guy, and blood. If you take any 3/5 of those things and throw them into a match, I'm probably going to love it. My favorite in this was Dr. Cerebro. Chico Che brings the awesome fat guy moves, Black Terry brings the old man grit, but there's Cerebro having the best brawling segments, gluing all the transitions together. Every time the camera would pick up Cerebro brawling with Loco it looked like some of the best wrestling brawling you've seen. There was zero light between their shots, and they always mixed them up in cool ways; you wouldn't just see turn taking punches, you'd get punches and slaps and kicks all thrown at different angles at odd timing. PLUS, he gushed twice the blood as his partners. But Terry was great at rallying the troops and bringing every awesome thing he always brings to these matches. To think even just 6 years ago that he would still be having these wild brawls today would have sounded nuts. Chico Che was real unique, and this match was a great example of his peak. He really moved differently, didn't throw punches like anyone else I've seen, and had some great agility. His missile splashes were both painful and gorgeous; seeing him get launched off the top with his arms by his sides was an amazing visual. The rudos could have really coasted here and the match still would have come off pretty classic due to the strength of the tecnico side, but none of these rudoes coasted. Diablo came off like a lanky cheapshotting creep, Loco turned in an excellent brawling performance, and Avisman brought great execution to even the most basic things. The match didn't necessarily need them to be this great, but a great rudo performance in something like this just elevates it sky high, and we got three of them. A true gem for lucha and wrestling fans.

FUTEN Review


PAS: I loved this match, bloody brawl lucha is one of my favorite things, and this a great example of it. However the FUTEN match may be one of the few matches I would give 5 stars to, it is pretty perfect and will be damn near impossible to beat.

ER: Sadly this match is a victim of our calendar endpoints. If we were doing half years, this would likely win for the first half of 2010, with FUTEN tag winning the second half. If we were doing March to March, this match would likely win March 2009-2010. But we use calendars and it drew just a brutal opponent. I could see this match eventually winning, if we revisit this in a few years. Who knows, Ikeda and Hashi could die of concussion related causes and we'd feel super bad watching them clunk their brains together in gross ways, and a straight up bloody war would make us feel better about vampiric selves. As it is, it's easily good enough to be #1, just drew a brutal opponent.

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Friday, January 13, 2017

MLJ: 8/1/1997 Torneo Cibernetico

1997-08-01 @ Arena México
Torneo Cibernetico

There was a moment where I thought we were looking at a MOTYC here. Then, after a major detour, there was yet another moment where I thought the match could still pull it out. Ultimately it didn't but it's still well worth watching. In some ways it's late 90s CMLL at its best.

First of all, look at the talent involved. For tecnicos, you had Negro Casas, Felino, Ultimo Dragon, Shocker, and Fiera. For Rudos, it was Hijo del Santo, Scorpio, Jr., Bestia Salvaje, Dr. Wagner, Jr., and Satanico. Shocker and Wagner weren't fully developed yet (though they had years under their respective belts). Fiera wasn't what he had once been. Dragon has some definite flaws as an all-around wrestler, but ciberneticos were made to smooth out all of those things.

More importantly, there were two major feuds here, and there would be, in the subsequent weeks following this, two major apuestas matches, the Fiera vs Bestia Salvaje one a couple of weeks before the Anniversary show and then the long-overdue Casas vs Santo match at the Anniversary itself. That brought the heat and the structure of payoff, with Salvaje dodging Fiera until the very end (mainly using Scorpio as a shield), and with Wagner and Santo targeting Casas. It's what's so often lacking in modern cibeneticos. They're all action and usually worth watching, but they're rarely grounded with any sort of substance to them.

Here there was plenty of that, on top of a lot of fun pairings. Satanico looked great as a base for Felino. Dragon was at his explosive best. Santo and Casas differentiated their feud with that of Salvaje and Fiera by actively going at it. Fiera, on the other hand, seemed amused by Salvaje's stooging cowardice:

Great action and quality workers buoyed by two storylines is more than you can ask for from any CMLL cibernetico. Unfortunately, it veered too far into the realm of story progression. Just before the commercial break, Wagner dropped Casas with a brutal sit-out martinete. He and Santo continued on him in the corner and then as he was being brought to the back as Felino and Dragon tried to provide interference. It was super heated but both took a number of the best wrestlers out of the match and caused a distraction where we didn't see the action in the ring for a few minutes. Casas continued to sell it on the ramp but with Felino's help, he fought back enough where he was able to appeal to the crowd and make it to the back on his own power.

Even then, I thought everything would work out because we'd have a string of falls followed by some assuredly heated Salvaje and Fiera exchanges. They both had it in them after all. We did get the former, but the latter was a non-starter. They went at it a bit before an inadvertant ref bump ended the match. Fiera wanted things to continue and Salvaje, having tasted blood and also knowing that he had a DQ loss if things stood as they were wasn't playing chicken anymore, but they only got a few shots in before the ref separated them again. Deferring gratification is part of what makes lucha tick but in this case I wish they had been allowed to go at it a bit more first.

So this wasn't an all-time classic but it is a solid cross-section of what CMLL had to offer going into the Anniversary show. If nothing else, you'll get to see a deranged Lucky Charms commercial if you watch it (I'm sure Phil will love this gif being on the site):

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

2016 Ongoing MOTY List: Casas/Ultimo/Euforia v. Atlantis/Mistico/Valiente

63. Negro Casas/Ultimo Guerrero/Euforia v. Atlantis/Mistico/Valiente CMLL 5/20

ER: Really fun Arena Mexico semi main, with Mistico getting to shine more than ever, Ultimo and Euforia putting on a catching clinic, and Casas showing off more of that criminally underseen matwork that we saw in the Hechicero match. I loved Casas and Atlantis rolling in the primera, with Negro showing off a couple variations on that neat pop up spin ankle pick that he used on Hechicero, here he keeps getting pushed off of Atlantis and every time Atlantis uses his legs to push him off Casas hangs on to an ankle. It's fun seeing a couple old dogs fighting and still coming up with new tricks. Segunda starts with some rudo bragging as they bend Valiente into a pyramid photo up, and as Euforia is standing on his back flexing Mistico springs in with a big rana. The rest of the match is a blur of wild Mistico spots with Ultimo and Euforia catching crazier spot after crazier spot: a springboard rana to the rampway, a HUGE leaping rana from the top to the floor (he really leapt crazy far too), a major flip dive that Euforia totally absorbed; none of them were easy catches and these two made them look flawless. Mistico doesn't get to have all the fun though as Valiente plasters Negro with a huge dive as well, and this was just a fun, consequences-free trios.

PAS: I enjoyed this as well. Nueva Mistico isn't a guy I have seen a ton of, and is clearly the least of his brothers, but I thought he was pretty great here, hitting nutty dive after nutty dive with some very impressive height on all of them. I especially loved his springboard rana counter to the pyramid spot, really flew out of nowhere to take Euforia down. Casas is really fun to watch even in small roles like this, he is amazing as both a star and a character actor, and this was the equivalent of Dennis Hopper coming in to True Romance for two scenes and stealing the movie.


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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

2016 Ongoing MOTY List: Dick Togo Busts in your GUTS

56. Dick Togo/Masao Orihara/Ryan Upin v. CHANGO/Guts Ishijima/Michio Kageyama GUTS World 11/15

PAS: Dick Togo is back doing what he does, rocking out a six man tag. This took a bit to get going but the last 10 minutes or so are pretty freaking great. Guts Ishijima (who I guess is the ace of GUTS? Fucking Japan is weird) is an amusing fat dude with a nice leg lariat, CHANGO had some nice energy, I enjoyed Upin as a scrawny creep who will rub the toe of his boot into your eyes. This was Togo running through his stuff, we had moments of great athleticism, nasty violence and a cool finish which had your heel team running wild. Orihara didn't do a ton, but had really great basic stuff including a nasty fistdrop, and also looks like such a dirtbag that he adds something big to the gimmick. I hope we get lots of GUTS title defenses for the new champs.

ER: I'm somewhat opposite of Phil as I really loved the earlier parts of the match. I also came away from this wanting to see everything that Masao Orihara has been up to the last couple years. We all loved him as a scrawny young punk doing absurdly reckless flying and wishing death upon himself in WAR, but now he's a violent thug button man and wrestles accordingly. His two great stretches in the above-linked video are 9:00-10:30 and 13:00-14:30, and he just comes in and beats the hell out of dudes. I definitely get the strong vintage SUWA vibes, but at minimum he comes off as the world's best Okumura. He oddly works like an effective WWE heel, simple strikes, but he doesn't bite off more than he can chew. He just comes in and is aggressive as hell, then fully wins me over with a perfect fistdrop. His biggest "high spot" was probably a double stomp off the buckles, and he hit and and kept walking past his opponents, almost in a dismissive Minoru Suzuki way. I now want a regular team of near-50 year old Togo/Orihara. Phil will call me a buffoon but I loved Orihara more than Togo in this, even though Togo wrestled just as well as we've become accustomed to Togo wrestling. His slingshot senton is maybe the most impressive spot in wrestling; the way he vaults over and then gets full extension WHILE pushing himself off ropes, it's quite the sight. Upin is a little twerp whose offense never hits hard, but succeeds in being an aggravator. Someone in the US needs to steal his rope running spot where he bounded back and forth, stepping on CHANGO's face each time. Guts Ishijima had some nice fat offense and a fun laid back personality, seems like a perfect candidate for my indy fat guy investigations. This whole thing is really fun. We get early crowd brawling where you wish you had a camera on each pairing, a table gets launched off someone's head, hierarchies and little stories emerge, and most get their moments. I do wish they had played off Togo flipping off Guts. Down the stretch Guts catches Togo on the top rope and I REALLY wanted him to shove him off to the floor, but instead he just kind of tosses him to the mat. But trios matches are basically impossible to screw up as nobody has to be exposed, and this one featured a stand out Orihara/Togo performance, so it's an easy win.


***ER: Also I hate Phil's pun in the title***

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