Segunda Caida

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

Friday, March 31, 2017

CWF Mid-Atlantic Worldwide Episode 97

Episode 97

1. Snooty Foxx/Dirty Daddy vs. HIM/SIS

PAS: Great little scrap which got me excited about the Kernodle Cup. Fox has looked a little green for singles matches, but is fun as a power hot tag. Really liked HIM and SIS, Him had a nasty cravate where he was kneeing Daddy in the face. I liked how it broke down, really chaotic with HIM wrestling with a fan over a chair and both teams having to be separated.

ER: Short and sweet, really made me want more (luckily we have a massive tag tournament coming up). I was really impressed by SIS in that silly Hardys battle royal thing they did, but that was my only experience with her. And she impressed again here. I really love her whipping headbutts, it's a great worked move and she does it so fast you get the full effect, without having to mush up your brains Kikuchi-style. I really dug the spot where Daddy is running across the ring delivering elbows, and on the third she loads up a nicely timed pump kick. HIM had an awesome cravate while throwing knees to the side of Daddy's head, into a swinging neckbreaker. That's a great spot. Fox gets into the mix with a brutal spear right at HIM's chest, and I agree with Phil that the breakdown to this was pretty mad. HIM fighting over that chair could have gotten real messy, and the pull apart made SIS look like a total badass.

2. Chip Day vs. Otto Schwanz vs. Smith Garrett vs. Aric Andrews vs. Cain Justice vs. Trevor Lee

PAS: Excellent multi-man match which gave everyone a chance to shine and built to some really big moments at the end. I liked how Lee didn't want to tag out at the beginning, proving himself against each of the challengers. I also loved how Cain Justice was initially hesitant to lock up with the guy who trained him but got more confident with each cheap shot. The Lee v. Day stuff was clearly the focus, and was pretty electric, people who saw their singles match said it was off the charts and this got me excited for it. Justice is a great sleaze and I loved him stealing the pin on Day after Lee's KO knee, but also liked how he was sort of babyfaced when he was facing the even bigger scumbag Andrews.

ER: I always heard CWF was good at doing multi man matches, and this was a pretty good testament to that. I didn't always love the actual work, thought some sections got a little too trade-y, but the strengths lied in how they worked several different storylines into the match - advancing existing stories, and bringing up past histories and motivations. You could argue that Stutts was the MVP of this match, as he was on absolute fire for 35+ minutes, with he and Cecil both filling in helpful little details that fleshed the whole thing out. Little things like pointing out Schwanz was the only other Heavyweight champ in the match other than Lee (and how he hadn't held the belt for 15 years), or that Lee/Andrews/Justice being left in the match was the only time the three different fed title holders had been in a match at the same time, going over the history of Justice/Lee, those little things were not just interesting tidbits but actively affected my rooting interests. I liked the little details around tag ins and tag outs, with a lot of psych around who wants to be in and who doesn't, who wants to hang back and let people get eliminated, who doesn't want to face off against who, with Justice not wanting to face Lee and Otto wanting to face everybody, just a lot of fun little character detail. I went in wanting a Schwanz win, but got into Lee as the fighting champ, making sure to start the match out against everybody, not tagging out. Justice was amusingly petty in stealing a pin after a ridiculously pointy Lee knee to Day's face, since it doesn't actually matter who eliminates who, just who is left at the end. Lee was really awesome throughout this and the way he carried himself seemed so cocksure that I was wondering what it would actually take to beat him. Nice match, and I really like all of the things it set up for future shows (which seems to be a major strength for CWF, always making you want to see what happens next).

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Thursday, March 30, 2017

2016 Ongoing MOTY List: Herodes/Heddi v. Zumbi/Bandido

66. Herodes Jr./Heddi Karaoui v. Zumbi/El Bandido Liga Elite 9/14

ER: What a cool little match! Liga Elite is really starting to pull together a fabulous undercard. They got a bunch of young hungry guys all fighting to be noticed, and it's really starting to stand out. This card especially felt like the guy who had the craziest night in-ring got the hottest rat in Naucalpan or something. Herodes Jr. was unhinged, working like a young cross between Terrible and Rey Escorpion. He had nice timing and worked real stiff, and had facial expressions that read "yeah, I know how stiff that was." Heddi is like a lucha Chris Dickinson, a real unlikable mug and cocky presence, but also brings violent throws and holds. Heddi had all these cool subs with a twist: a neat Indian deathlock that saw him also wrenching the knee, a stretch muffler with him standing up to wrench that, always grabbing at something for a throw. Zumbi does a capoeira gimmick and is actually pretty entertaining with it, with crazy handstand based offense, and wrestling barefoot always makes me like a guy more. Bandido had a bunch of cool tough headlock throws, some complicated stuff on shoulders, several cool roll ups. All of it blended into a fun style clash, been awhile since I saw a good style clash. Everybody had their own unique stuff, but nobody got crossed on the others' stuff. Crazy spots, and a bunch of danger without veering into overkill.

PAS: I really enjoyed this, Heddi is a guy who has been around for a while and who I always thought stunk, he was pretty great in this, twisting knees, cracking people, having some really aggressive mat wrestling scrambles with Bandido. I also really liked Herodes Jr., again a guy who I hadn't had an opinion of, but felt like he was in the tradition of guys like Emilio Charles Jr. and Bestia Salvaje, which is a tradition I loved. There was a great spot where Zumbi goes for a plancha, Herodes catches him a bear hug and rag dolls him back and forth like a dog playing with a dead squirrel before chucking him kidneys first into the guard rail. Zumbi's capoeira stuff sometimes looked silly, but a couple of times really turned a breakdance into something violent, he did this headspin where he landed knees first into Heddi's windpipe. Overall a really entertaining undercard tag, and I really want to search out more of Herodes and Heddi.


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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

All Time MOTY List Head to Head + Wednesday Morning War Games: NWA Anarchy Team Anarchy v. Devil's Rejects V. Akiyama v. Inoue

Team Anarchy (Shadow Jackson/Nemesis/Slim J/Ace Rockwell) v. The Devil's Reject's 
(Iceberg/Tank/Azrael/Shaun Tempers) NWA Anarchy 7/22/06

PAS: What a grizzly blood soaked war, Devil's Rejects have to be the scariest faction in wrestling history, they look like a gang of hillbilly cannibals. It really adds something to the danger of WarGames it is one thing to be locked in a cage with Arn Anderson or Sid, totally different thing to be locked in a cage with a bunch of guys who look like they have lost hikers chained up in their basement. Rockwell comes in with a broken arm and Slim J comes with a bad eye and they both injuries get exploited in horrible ways, Rockwell gets crucifix powerbombed arm first into the cage, Tempers drives a fucking meat cleaver into Slim J's eye. The babyface comeback after the sides equalled up was awesome, Shadow Jackson was great in the Nikita/Sting roll of powerhouse babyface roll coming in an powerslamming the 600 pound Iceberg. Rockwell wails on Azreal with his cast, and they end up Russian legsweeping Tank off the top through a table and superplexing Iceberg which might have opened up a crater in Cornelia. Finish was totally legit as Rockwell takes a claw hammer and tries to rip out Tempers cheek. Post match was crazy too, the match was control of Anarchy v. owner getting 5 minutes in the cage with Rev. Dan Wilson (all of these War Games seem to be about control of the fed, fucking McMahon GM nonsense ruined indy wrestling), the owner gets one punch in and then the Reject's stream in and maul that dude, stab him in the head, Iceberg second rope splash, meanwhile the crowd is hurling garbage and wrestlers are trying to scale the cage.

ER: This match completely surprised me. I loved Wildside but really haven't watched much Anarchy. A decade ago I never heard anybody recommending Anarchy matches, it flew almost completely under my radar. And THIS was there the whole time! This match has been sitting around on YouTube for 8 years and this is the first I've heard of it. And it's wonderful. Ace Rockwell turns in one of the finest fiery underdog babyface performances I've seen, blazing in with a cast on his arm and throwing these great right hands all match, throwing his whole body at Azrael, making me root for Team Anarchy right out of the gate. Phil is right that the Devil's Rejects stable are downright frightening. How many times have you seen metal t-shirt face painted wrestlers come off like total jokes ("I am counter culture!"), and here they look like Satanist bikers from I Drink Your Blood. And it's all great! Again Ace Rockwell is an impossibly good babyface warrior here, Slim J enters by flying off the top with a crossbody and doesn't slow down, Azrael and Tempers are great meathead thugs (who end up hitting big bladejobs), Tank and Iceberg (comically billed at 600 pounds, which I suppose would make Tank 560 and Ace Rockwell 350) are big ol' fat guys who will stiff you, splash you, crush your face with a legdrop, and wrestle like you wish Tank Abbott wrestled in WCW. We get some pretty sick bumps throughout, including what I think are the nastiest cage bumps I've seen. Tempers and Azrael press slamming Ace into the support pole of the cage and letting him just drop was nasty, but there are several other moments of guys flying into the cage at awkward angles and dropping terribly in between ropes and cage. Finish is disgusting as Tempers gets a clawhammer jammed into his mouth and thankfully taps before it bursts through his cheek. This was some wild violence right here, the kind of thing that makes me want to go watch all the Anarchy I can find.

Akiyama v. Inoue Review


PAS: I am going with Wargames, easily the most violent of the War Games I have seen, and a match which delivers visceral fear and hate better then almost anything I can remember. I loved Inoue v. Akyama but that is more a quirky indy comedy, Anarchy Wargames is Apocalypse Now

ER: Going in I thought this was just going to be a fun discovery and would make a good challenger for its novelty factor. But goddamn does it get my vote. Akiyama/Inoue is an all time favorite of mine, and this match crashed the party and made itself known as possibly the most violent WarGames match in history. Think about that. New champ.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

2017 Ongoing MOTY List: Park v. Rush 4

LA Park v. Rush Baracal Lucha 3/11/17

PAS: So glad to see these two guys back and brutalizing each other. I am continually amazed by what LA Park is doing at 51 years old, this isn't a guy working slick mat holds or even stand up brawling like Black Terry. This is a fat old man getting rolling drink carts hurled at his head and hitting flying full speed tope and mega height planchas, probably the most impressive post 50s wrestling performances I can remember, not only smart and awesome work, but athletic and dangerous too. Rush is a great foil for Park, smarmy, hateable and willing to bring the violence. I am not sure how much Rush has bladed before, but when Park breaks out the case of beer to the head, and the broken beer bottle to the forehead, Rush starts leaking like an old pro. I am really over lightubes, but an old fashioned broken beer bottle to the head still warms my heart. Finish was a bit of booking overload, but I did love some of the near falls, including Parks great spear. Nasty bit of violence and a real treat.

ER: Imagine this match running your town and you not going to see it? Too many empty seats in this arena, no way that many people had better plans on a Saturday night. The LA Park touring main event match is one of my favorite things ever in wrestling, as it just boggles my brain that he's still able to do what he does. He's been wrestling 35 years, he's as large as he's ever been, takes tremendous punishment in his matches, does huge dives onto concrete floors, takes big bumps onto hard rings, then somehow drives to the next town. I don't know how Park is possible. But I love what he does, body physics be damned. Park is one of the luchadors I most often go out of my way to watch, so I've seen the various formulas and know his patterns, can tell when he's taking a breather in a 3 way, and have seen enough of his main event epic singles matches to know that while there's going to be some wandering, and some awkward lying around, he also never ceases to be captivating. I just did a word search on Segunda Caida for "captivating", and three other LA Park reviews came up, as well as a review where I described Asuka's live entrance as such, and another where I call a Brutal Bob Evans promo the "least captivating" thing.
So Park is clearly a person I love and am fascinated by. He's able to draw sympathy, while coming across as a violent beast. When Rush is kicking him around an arena I flip out and practically beg for him to stop taking abuse from this punk, and then when he finally flips it and goes barreling high speeds into Rush I practically beg for him to go easy on his body. Rush is an easy guy to root against and draws great sympathy from Park, slapping him, kicking him in the face, whipping him with his own belt, ripping his mask, smashing his face into the ringpost, throwing a large beer cooler at Park's head, Rush being his typical repellant self. Park comes back with a huge dive into the entrance way, disappears into the crowd and emerges with a case of empty beer bottles which immediately get chucked at Rush's face, then expertly breaks one of the bottles on a ringpost the way a man familiar with breaking beer bottles would. He gouges at Rush's head right in the front row, while fans try to not get blood on their soccer jerseys. The home stretch is usually what makes a Park match, as you know he's going to break out some great stuff before that, and you also know there's going to be shenanigans and potential silliness with the finish. And this silliness isn't bad. I could've done without the blatant interference, but I kind of liked the ref involvement. The ref tries to break up the two men and Park turns around and belts him with a real mean shot. The ref sees red and tries to hold Park for Rush, Rush kicks Park onto the ref, and then Rush aims to hit a big senton on both but only hits the poor ref. We get some good nearfalls, more expected shenanigans, and then two awesome killers yelling at each other on the mic after the match. You know, everything exactly as you hoped it would be when you watched it.


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Monday, March 27, 2017

Brian Kendrick Will Lay Right Down in His Favorite Place

1. Brian Kendrick/Paul London/Demolition Davies vs. Chaos/FVN/Michael Schenkenberg (DPW 4/20/14) - VERY GOOD

This was more of that European tour where London and Kendrick wrestled against a bunch of guys who were clearly inspired by London and Kendrick. This feels even more like an old London/Kendrick tag as Chaos/Schenkenberg are basically a German version of the Bashams (not like they're working a German Bashams gimmick or anything, they just wear baggy German flag pants and are generally Basham-y). This started as a singles match between London and FVN, and that was good. London typically goofs around during his (long) ring entrances, and then works hard during the matches, and this felt just as solid as a Paul London singles match from a decade earlier. I'd never seen FVN before, and he felt really polished, coming off like a stoogier Tyson Kidd. Eventually it turns into a 3 way, and while I don't think Chaos/Schenkenberg added much (they were not bad, but were in there to just club on London to build to a Kendrick hot tag), I did like the addition of Davies. I could have sworn I'd written about Demolition Davies before, as he's a big fat guy (with gear similar to Mecha Mercenary) who hits rolling sentons, really great lariats, and an impressive moonsault, but I found nothing on him when searching Segunda Caida archives. Davies is definitely a guy I need to do an indie fat guy investigation on, as he was really fun here. London was a good FIP, although Kendrick's hot tag was a little underwhelming. I don't think hot tags were ever really his specialty though, as he tends to run in and through light fivearms and dropkicks. It's probably my least favorite part of his arsenal. But it does provide energy and while the German guys are kind of bland, FVN provides plenty of personality. After that the match turns more into a Davies showcase (which makes sense, as he actually works there) and he splats some dudes. There was nothing over the top special about this, but it was a match that stuck to a solid formula for the right amount of time, and there's value in that.

2. Brian Kendrick vs. Akira Tozawa (WWE Raw 2/20/17) -  SKIPPABLE

Not really a match. Kendrick demanded a handshake, Tozawa wouldn't give it to him, Kendrick choked him out with the bully choke. This should lead somewhere good, right?

3. Brian Kendrick/Noam Dar vs. Rich Swann/Akira Tozawa (WWE Fastlane 3/5/17) - FUN

I'm a couple months behind on 205 Live but I do plan to skim through it to catch up. Crowd does not care about this, though over the course of the match the crowd gets into Swann as FIP. Kendrick is great throughout at trying to only be in the match when he's got the advantage. It doesn't always work, which leads to him eating a high backdrop while Swann is about to powerbomb Dar, and then another to the floor before eating a dive. Dar is kind of disjointed the whole match, though I like the way he takes Swann's kicks. This match just didn't have enough going for it. Kendrick was fun but the whole thing was rushed. Tozawa didn't get to do much as the whole match was built around Swann. Swann had nice kicks but his flip dive looked soft, and he came up short on his phoenix splash. Everybody seemed like they were trying, but there's this inescapable desperation that comes through during these cruiser matches. It's like the all know the whole thing is going to die soon. Also, I hate Michael Cole saying "Vintage Rich Swann!" Vintage compared to what?

4. Brian Kendrick/Tony Nese vs. Akira Tozawa/TJ Perkins (WWE Raw 3/13/17) - GREAT

What a cool little 5 minute gem. You're tired of TJ/Kendrick? Yeah, so am I. But they managed to be mostly separated and instead everybody worked the match around a bunch of semi-intricate timing spots and neat saves. Kendrick was around to bump, make saves, and keep working his opportunistic schtick. So then you're thinking, "Oh, so it was a match heavy on Tony Nese" which sounds pretty dismal, but he had a really great showing! Kendrick eats a fast tope from Tozawa that sends him reeling back into the aisle, and Nese comes running around to get Tozawa and eats a rana from the apron from TJP. Post commercial break is when it gets really fun as you get these kinda complicated almost lucha spots where one guy has to trip another while another guy is in position to get knocked off the apron while then another guy capitalizes by pinning the first guy. That kind of stuff can get old fast, but they work it smart and most importantly, work it well. Nobody had to wait around for their cues and everybody was on the same page. Kendrick gets a couple perfectly timed saves, Perkins looked good, and Nese actually looked like a guy fighting to be noticed. It all glued together nicely. Kendrick distracts Tozawa from the floor, Nese runs TJ into Tozawa resulting in Tozawa taking a ultra nasty bump into the bottom rope, leading to Nese rolling up TJ. Cool finish, awesome little match.

5. Brian Kendrick vs. TJ Perkins (WWE Raw 3/20/17) - SKIPPABLE

Well, this was weird. 90 second match, Kendrick tricks Perkins into almost running into the ref, then TJ takes awhile to confer with the ref and talk about how crazy it was that he almost ran into him, and then Kendrick just "sneaks" behind Perkins, grabs his hands, and then kind of clunkily pulls him into position for sliced bread for the easy win. I...have no idea what the point of any of this was.


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Sunday, March 26, 2017

All Time MOTY List Head to Head Ikeda v. Ishikawa v. KENTA v. Ki

KENTA v. Low-Ki ROH 12/17/05

PAS: I was a little worried that this wouldn't age well, juniors wrestling is a style which I have soured on the most as a fan, so much of current wrestling is infected by crossfit juniors style, that stuff which looked great back in the day, tends to really show it seams now. I hated the Tiger Mask stuff on the NJ DVDVR set, really didn't like Ultimo Dragon WAR matches, thought Liger v. Pillman sucked last time I watched it. However, while this match was clearly in the Sayama to Okada lineage, Low-Ki will kick a match into my heart.

The hellacious assbeatings laid in on this match really separated it my eyes, Ki and KENTA both unloaded on every shot and Ki especially did a great job of selling concussive force, I loved his selling of the final Go 2 Sleep, he just crumpled in a ball. The nastiness of the shots really helped the momentum shifts, if a guy needs to go on offense one of those face kicks will really do it. Ki was also such an explosive athlete in 2005, watching him leap to the top rope for a Spaceman plancha or elevate for a double stomp is like watching MVP season Derrick Rose. I also really loved all of the slap exchanges, trading slaps is the one of the most played out things in wrestling, but man do both guys throw fast and hard shots, and they also don't just exchange, but perry, block and counter.

ER: I'm with Phil, I was not expecting this to age very well, but it turns out I can get behind a couple of guys stiffing the hell out of each other. I really liked that end run slap exchange, it felt far more FUTEN than New Japan as it had that immediacy to it. The NJPW slap or forearm exchanges always feel so mechanical, so forced, performed with the energy level of a Chevy's employee forced to sing Happy Birthday to a table full of teenagers, none of whom were born on that day, none of whom will be giving them any kind of tip. Here Ki and KENTA throw off balance and don't really take turns, block, and throw any number of shots that would lay me on my butt. I still love modern day Low-Ki, but he's like Negro Casas in that you can watch decade old (or two or three decade old with Casas) matches and see how they moved differently, occasionally did moves differently, and were generally different wrestlers that you loved differently. It's Finaly in Germany vs. Finlay in WCW vs. Finlay in WWE: They're all great, and all slightly different. And Ki now is still violent, but slightly slower. Here he's fast, violent, and seemingly indestructible. He comes off like a pro wrestling cyborg, the way he snags KENTA's arm and yanks over the top rope with his weight, his body jutting out at this extreme horizontal angle as if he were a Cirque du Soleil acrobat doing an armbar. Later he does a double stomp to KENTA that then sends his own body quickly tumbling to the floor, and it comes off like he just thinks about damaging his opponent, with no regard to damaging his own body.

The kicks from both men end with a real snap and thud and we build to some pretty big nearfalls. I think they went a couple nearfalls too long, but the kickouts get a mammoth reaction, and it lead to big moments like KENTA's crazy falcon arrow off the top, and Ki's scrambly Ki Krusher. I also love Ki's great attention to little things, plausibly getting KENTA to wait in the tree of woe by stomping on his knee, focusing KENTA's own attention on getting Ki's boot off his knee, while Ki then double stomps the hell out of him. Crazy match that went long, but never felt like they were wasting their time, and the overkill felt earned. Great stuff that exceeded expectations.

Ikeda v. Ishikawa review


PAS: This was closer then I thought it would be, KENTA v. Ki is awesome stuff and easily an EPIC on the C+A Low-Ki, but it was a match built around stiffness and violence, and you can't step to Ishikawa v. Ikeda with that as your attribute. FUTEN reigns supreme.

ER: Great match, a match-up I thought was going to be a total blowout but actually felt like a legit challenger. Ishikawa/Ikeda is arguably the most violent match I've ever seen, and while this match was helped out by a molten hot crowd, the violence and struggle was never quite as real as it was in that FUTEN classic. A hard fought, but decided FUTEN victory.

Complete and Accurate Low-Ki

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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Hops and Monsters Podcast

Hey gang!

This is not wrestling related, but I was a guest on my best friend Charlie's horror podcast "Hops and Monsters" to loosely talk about David Cronenberg. As it goes with drinking and friends, the conversation rarely stays on topic, but is always fun. The episode is titled High on the Fly, and it should be the first part (with more to come). It's an hour, we also talk about Get Out and I'm sure I ramble about plenty of other things. Enjoy it!

Hops and Monsters on Facebook 

Hops and Monsters on Soundcloud


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Friday, March 24, 2017

2017 Ongoing MOTY List: Alpha v. Usos

3. American Alpha v. Usos WWE Smackdown 3/21

ER: A perfectly fine tag match suddenly ramps the hell up with a cool build to a hot tag (which seems to be what these two teams have done best over the last several months). Gable is fighting to tag out, and Uso has his leg and is struggling to hold him back, and Gable finally makes that final leap to Jordan...just as Jordan is getting yanked right off the apron. The rest of the match is hot with a big eventual Jordan hot tag with big suplexes, Usos get a good nearfall off a superkick and big splash, Gable hits a moonsault to the floor and gets launched into the crowd afterwards, an Uso eats a suplex on the floor, and we just keep building to that hot finish. They really had a great way of always keeping everyone busy, separating AA from each other, and not backing themselves into any unbelievable kickouts. Crowd got nice and hot for two teams that they really haven't done much with in the last few months.

PAS: This was really fun stuff, I don't think Gable is a great wrestler yet, but he throws in some fun stuff in every match, I loved his arm wringer here, never seen it done like before and it really looked like it dislocated Jay's elbow. Uso's have been good at putting together hot finish runs for years, they were one of the better Shield opponents back during their run, and this was another example. That suplex on the floor was super nasty looking and I really liked the semi clean finish. One small thing is that I wish the Uso's would dump the basketball shoes, superkick with Jordan's don't look very good.


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Thursday, March 23, 2017

2016 Ongoing MOTY List: Janela v. Speedball v. 2 COLD!!

41. Joey Janela v. Speedball Mike Bailey v. 2 Cold Scorpio C4 5/27/16

PAS: Powerbomb.TV delivers with this barrel of fun 3 way dance. Janela gets a great heel reaction from me by turning a singles match into a 3-way, always my least favorite booking move, but bumps his way into my heart, with a missed top rope senton on the ring apron which looked chiropractic. The low celling was clearly fucking up his flying, but outside of that 2 Cold looked awesome, he is wrestling like an athletic Gypsy Joe at this point, as he mixes in shoot punches and chops with great looking flip kicks right into faces. I really enjoyed all of the karate sparring face offs with Bailey early, and Scorp isn't afraid to take a shooting star kneedrop right to his kidneys. This had some of the 3-way awkwardness, but man alive did I love watching it.

ER: What a ridiculous match, that I very much loved. Janela is an actual weirdo, and I like weirdos, and while I hate 3 ways, I like weirdos getting jammed into 3 ways. And 3 ways with 3 lunatics are probably the best kind of 3 ways. So we get three loons doing loony stuff and it's pretty wonderful. This is one of my absolute favorite Bailey performances, just goofy and nasty all at once, with moonsault kneedrops and dropkicks running from outside the building and on point spinkicks and kicks and kicks and kicks. Scorp had a minor flub that really didn't matter to the overall match quality, and was also wearing some absurdly aggressive dick pants. They may as well have had arrows on the front of them. He's in his 50s now and still really good, and gets tremendous power behind his chops and strikes. I loved all his kicks, his vaulting legdrop out of the corner, and his willingness to lean into both guys' attacks (jeez that shooting star kneedrop to his kidneys!!). Janela worked this smart in terms of the match structure, bringing big bumps and some nice saves instead of jamming himself into convoluted 3 way spots. That somersault senton off the top to the apron was just stupid times ten, and I loved seeing his arm get redder and redder as Bailey kept kicking it. This is a weird instance of the 3 way being possibly better than any combo of singles match between these guys. I'm sure all the possible singles matches would have been awesome, but I don't know if they would have upped the crazy to these levels. Hopefully they test this theory in 2017, because I'd still watch it.


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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Wednesday Morning War Games: CWA - G1 v. The First Family & the VSS

G1 (Tony Givens/Robby Cassidy/Moe Jenkins/Wayne Adkins) v. The First Family (Brian Logan/Beau James) and The VSS (Alyx Winters/Chase Owens) CWA 3/21/09

I thought this was totally awesome, CWA is the most recent iteration of Kingsport TN indy wrestling which is a tradition which goes back decades. I loved the opening section of this with Robbie Cassidy bumping around and busting open Chase Owens. Cassidy was fucking great in this, classic southern punches, big cage bumps, an awesome top rope fist drop, I had watched bits and pieces of Kingsport indies before (Tony Givens used to send me DVD's) , but this match made me want to search out more Robby Cassidy. James and Logan are a classic fat guy southern heel team, lots of great looking punches and cheap shots, sort of next generation Dirty Rhodes and Don Bass. This built nicely to a pretty crazy ending, with the faces locked in the cage another heel group comes out and menaces an injured member of G1 doing commentary, Winters does a nutty plancha off the cage onto the floor to break it up, and then there is a wild brawl on the floor and in the ring. The heels throw all of the faces out of the ring and focus on Givens, until Robbie Cassidy does another nuts dive from the cage to take out Logan, the only thing I didn't love was the finish with Givens getting a stoppage on James with MMA elbows, they didn't look great and they added some unneeded 2000s to a match that was gloriously 80s. Still this was a fucking blast, everything you want a War Games to deliver.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

2006 Match of the Year

Jun Akiyama v. Masao Inoue NOAH 4/23

PAS: Inoue as ineffectual schmuck is one of my favorite wrestling characters. Here he is in his ultimate challenge. Inoue is perfect as the lovable heel loser getting his improbable big match. It starts with Inoue (who has visable indentations from his reading glasses) jumping Akiyama at the bell and hitting a big suplex and a roll up. Akiyama is established as a guy who can get upset quickly and the crowd buys the near fall. Akiyama locks on the choke, and you also buy Inoue going down quickly. Inoue then spends the next couple of minutes with some awesome stalling, and then some really great eye rakes. When Akiyama responds to the eye rakes with rakes of his own, the crowd starts booing him unmercifully. Akiyama is great as a guy who can't deal with the crowd booing him. There is a point where he just decides "fuck it, you want to boo, boo this" and just murders Inoue, including a calf branding into the steel barricade. Inoue is working as a guy with a limited number of options, he can't go toe to toe with Akyama, and he can't out quick him, out wrestle him, or out power him. He needs to either catch Akyama in a mistake or outsmart him. The rolls ups, and the stalling fit into that, and he keeps getting near falls by tricking Akiyama into almost getting counted out. Including a great figure four on the ramp which he just held it until the last possible second and sprints into the ring. Near the end Akiyama is just killing Inoue, but Masao won't go down. It isn't no-selling because he is so tough, it is more like he knows this is his only shot and despite all of his flaws wants to die on his sword. Not a ton of cool moves or fancy sequences, but still the best match of the year.

ER: Ahhhh, the match that made me love Masao Inoue. He's my absolute favorite chubby little loser. You know he has to be tougher than every one of us, but he's so convincing as himself that it's almost impossible to imagine. I would love to see footage of him training in the dojos, and I'm already laughing at the mental image of all the different fatigued faces he would be making. Tons of those faces are on display here, the full color wheel of schlub. He jumps Akiyama at the streamers with a lariat and a big sleeper suplex and gets about the most convincing nearfall of the match. He locks on his torture rack but Akiyama immediately grabs a choke out of it, due to Inoue being a schlub, and you buy that Akiyama could basically just hang out in that choke until Inoue passes out. Akiyama, for possible sportsmanship reasons, let's him go. Inoue spends the next several minutes recovering on the floor, hilariously rolling like a log out of the ring when Akiyama tries throwing him back in, and devotes a great deal of time to having the ref back Akiyama off so he can safely get back inside.

Inoue does all these great eye rakes, digging his fingers into Jun's eyes, and violently scraping his wristbands over the bridge of his nose. The second Akiyama does the same the crowd boos him, and he has this perfectly incredulous face, as the camera cuts back to Inoue rubbing his eyes, like your little brother after you got him to stop crying by saying the word poop a lot. Inoue somehow reverses Jun's attempt at a suplex on the ramp, hits his own vertical, then casually walks to the ring before going "oh shit wait!" and doing a funny run back to Jun, just to lock on a sloppy figure 4. The anticipation building in the crowd was tremendous as they catch on to his plan, as the ref count keeps getting higher and higher, and Inoue breaks the figure four at 17 to rush back to the ring, limping along the way as his own knee was hurt during the submission. But Akiyama makes it back in, and the beating commences. The crowd keeps booing Akiyama in a "why ya gotta pick on him" way, and Akiyama embraces his Legend Heel persona for the match. The calf branding into the guard rail was disgusting, not sure how Inoue came out of that one without a busted nose or mouth. Akiyama is pretty coolly vicious from this point, being cautious to not slip up and allow an opening, but knowing that he can coast. Inoue still surprises him with a couple great cradles, getting a really high scoop and honestly making it seem like Akiyama will be "the doof who keeps losing the title to cradles and roll ups", and nobody wants that moniker. So he starts killing Inoue not because he needs to, but because he can, and he wants that potential embarrassment buried FAR below. We get a bunch of knees to the back of the head, some exploders, and then one final, unnecessary wrist clutch version that we could have gotten a 15 count on. Very unique title match, and we basically owe it to ourselves and the world to go back and review tons of Inoue matches.


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Monday, March 20, 2017

2017 Ongoing MOTY List: Boyce v. Fatu

Boyce Legrande v. Jacob Fatu Phoenix Pro Wrestling 3/10

ER: Phoenix Pro Wrestling is a local Bay Area fed that I have been involved with since its inception, over two years ago. My good friend Josh is the owner/operator, and my good friend Tim Livingston and I do commentary/play by play, respectively. It's the only fed that regularly operates in Sonoma County, and it's exciting to have our own little pro wrestling fed. This was our biggest show in our 2+ years, both in importance and attendance. We had a year long build to a main event cage match, and the fans turned out in droves, shattering our previous attendance high. It was a really special night.

Boyce has been wrestling in the Bay Area for almost 20 years (well, with a 6+ year break in the middle), and was part of some pretty pimped "indy wrestling boom" matches of the late 90s/early 00s, I think even landing on a Schneider comp or two, and he's been on almost every PPW show. Fatu is the son of Tonga Kid, and I think he's only been wrestling a few years, but already looks ready for prime time. The crowd was hot all night and this match put everyone over the top. Both guys worked stiff, and Fatu has some ridiculous speed and leaping ability, totally unexpected if you haven't seen him before. The way he whipped over the ropes to land on the apron blew my mind, but that springboard lariat? Forget it. Boyce has spent the last 2 years getting over his big falling lariat as his "PPW finisher", so Fatu kicking out of it was a pretty big deal in our fed. Crowd wasn't expecting it. Fatu building to hitting his handspring moonsault was big, and I flipped for the pop up Samoan drop. I thought we were getting a legit title change, and couldn't think of a good way for Boyce to come back, so I quite liked the almost desperation "get the knees up" finish, with the more inexperienced Fatu beating himself and Boyce escaping with his title. My personal favorite PPW match so far, from a fed I couldn't be more proud of.

PAS: I came at this match without any emotional investment and really enjoyed it. I missed the middle 18 years of Legrande's career, saw him as a skinny rookie enjoyed him, and am now enjoying him as a more solidly built veteran. Fatu has some fun spots, is really agile for such a big guy, but this was clearly Legrande building an exciting match around those spots. Really loved both near falls and the finish was a great way for a crafty veteran to escape with the belt. Makes me want to watch more of both guys.


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Weekend Wrap-Up: Matsunaga! Otsuka! Dibiase! Freebirds! Casas Family vs Ola Blanca '97!

I watched wrestling this weekend. Here it is:

Alexander Otsuka vs Mitsuhiro Matsunaga (BattlARTS 11/09/1999)

This is probably the most Segunda Caida-y match I've ever watched and I'm amazed it's never been on the site before. It's been out there (being on the 99 Yearbook, for instance), but doesn't seem to have gotten a ton of talk over the years. I'm watching this at the prompting of PWO's Elliott, who just covered it with Stacey on their podcast. Check it out. While I enjoyed this as much as they did, I had a slightly different take on it (and I'd insist that people watch it before getting spoiled by my take. You deserve to be surprised):

So Matsunaga comes down to the ring, sword in hand, terrifying the businessman-laden BattlARTS crowd, attacking the seats, and knocking one guy out of his chair and onto his ass. He's full of bluster. Otsuka comes down and immediately begins killing Matsunaga with a multi-front attack. He leads with forearms, chokes him with his own belt, posts him on the outside, gets revenge for the furniture by tossing him into the chairs, bites his burgeoning forehead wound, and brings him back in to suplex him. If life was a video game, Otsuka would be a create-a-wrestler who was the recipient of some sort of cheat code that gave him full attributes in every area. All of this is brutal and highly uncooperative. The suplexes are borderline deadlift. At one point on the outside, Otsuka slams his own forearm into the metal while trying to post Matsunaga and he just shrugs it off and keeps going. He's a force of nature. At this point, he wasn't even playing to his distinct advantage by going to the mat. He's just a force of nature.

What can Matsunaga do in the face of this? Really only one thing. He goes full Memphis. They reset and he garners a handshake. He makes a clean break. I'm expecting some wonderful bit of heeling at this point. What I'm not expecting is a fireball followed by minutes of hide the object with a giant "Asiatic Spike." That's what we got and it was glorious. He's up against this wrestling dynamo and he basically sheiks him as the only possible equalizer.

Otsuka quickly becomes a bloody mess. When he comes back, it's because he's able to duck a shot and lock in one of the world's most dramatic abdominal stretches, key because it locks up basically all of Matsunaga's limbs. How does he follow it up? With the god damn craziest flip dive to the floor, just because he had to check off that one last pro wrestling attribute he hadn't shown off yet. It turns his comeback into an impassioned hope spot though as he does as much damage to himself. Matsunaga's able to take back control, still utilizing his object, which builds to an even bigger comeback where, of course Otsuka gets the spike, which is absolutely perfect retributional pro-wrestling. His revenge is swift, bloody, and decisive. And this is a truly special match.

Ted Dibiase vs Terry Gordy (Steel Cage)/Ted Dibiase vs Michael Hayes (Steel Cage Country Whipping Match) (UWF - 10/17/1986) NWAOnDemand

The latest gem from NWAOnDemand. We'd had the cage match JIP, but this is the whole package: pre-match mic-work to set things up, the cage match, the crowd buzzing afterwards as Ted heads to the back and then comes back out, the whipping match in the cage, and then post match backstage promos (including some pre-post interview moments that serve as outtakes). Thirty-two minutes of great Watts-style wrestling.

This is the penultimate encounter of the Freebirds vs Dibiase/Doc feud, which also included some really great Doc vs Gordy matches and the awesome Hayes vs Doc cage match, which people need to sign up for the service and see if they haven't yet. Doc is supposed to wrestle Gordy here in the cage but Ted claims that they injured him. I assume he's on a Japan tour instead. Hayes wants them to give the match to Gordy but Ted takes it for himself, even though he's booked right after in the whipping match.

The cage match is pretty much everything you'd want it to be. Gordy, like always, is an absolute beast in using his body mass to control the match. He uses the ring, and in this case, the cage, so well, bullying Dibiase around, fighting out of the corner, using the turnbuckles as weapons. He has such a natural physical presence. Dibiase, on the other hand, is such an ideal mid-south babyface, a triple tough brawler who can take punishment, who can and will sell (both his back to Gordy's offense and ring utilization, and his face from the sheer power of Gordy's blows), but that'll come back with his fits and guts alone. I had never realized until watching this match that the true, absolute point of Dibiase's signature fistdrops is to work over a bloody wound. They're amazing here.

In the end, he escapes to the back with the win and the belt, causing Hayes to rant and rave and the crowd to buzz elatedly for the few minutes before Born in the USA comes back on and Dibiase makes his way back out for round two. This is simple, straightforward, and effective. Hayes wants to steal back the belt and escape the cage and whatever punishment he can muster is just to allow enough space to manage that. It (along with the fact that Hayes is seen as much as a manager as anything else) helps rationalize how a worn down (and ambushed) Dibiase can fight back. Every time Hayes gets a real advantage, he goes for the belt. Every time he does, Dibiase recovers and battles back. It's short, sweet, and effective and leaves the fans buzzing and happy, all preparation for the Gordy vs Dibiase blow-off match on Halloween night.

The post match Gordy promo is a horrorshow of blood and fury. It's great to watch on its own and very cool to see the few seconds of him getting ready to talk in the "outtake." Just classic stuff all around.

Dr. Wagner Jr. & Silver King vs. Felino & Negro Casas (CMLL - 5/9/1997)

Here's another one that was bouncing around but that just got uploaded in a more complete form. This is "sangre contra sangre," the Casas family vs the Sons of Dr. Wagner, and there's a lot of pomp in this version of the footage. There's a video recap to set it up, pre-match promos, shots of the family, Bestia Salvaje in a wheelchair carted out by Black Warrior for some reason. It all feels like a big deal and is a cool presentation.

The match itself is very solid but not quite as good as the other ones I watched. Here's something it has going for it, though: Negro Casas is always brilliant, but when you give him specific things to work with, he can take them so, so far. Here he has the family situation and Felino to protect, but he also has a gaping wound on his knee. Wagner and Silver King are absolutely game rudo bases, both of them going the extra mile, Silver King with his over the top expressions and Wagner by making sure to take wonderfully overdramatic bumps into the crowd to make sure everyone is paying attention to him.

Structurally, this has a few fun wrinkles, with both Felino clowning the rudos and a full heat segment and comeback/elaborate rudo cut off in the primera. There's maskwork and revenge maskwork, more beatdown heat into the start of the segunda that culminates with a fiery Casas finally recovering enough to burst into the ring to save his brother and a finish which keeps the feud going by making the Casas brothers look strong even as Wagner outsmarts Felino.

Oh, and like just about every Casas match I ever see, he pulls out something I haven't seen him do before (that doesn't mean he hasn't done it before, just that I hadn't seen it in the hundreds of matches I'd seen with him). Check out this little rope running exchange with Silver King:

Very fun novelty that felt special; definitely a good way to spend a half an hour.

Now I need to get back to watching Lucha Underground S3 so we can catch up before the show comes back in a month or two. We're lagging because of me, not Eric.

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Sunday, March 19, 2017

All Time MOTY List Head to Head: Misawa v. Kawada V. WAR v. FMW

Atsushi Onita/Tarzan Goto v. Genichiro Tenryu/Ashura Hara (WAR 3/2/94)

PAS: Epic match with everyone playing their parts perfectly. Onita replaces his normally psychotic masochistic hurling of his body into barbed wire, with psychotically and mascochistically allowing himself to be toe kicked in the temple by Tenryu and shoot headbutted by Hara. Tenryu is a mean nasty prick roaming around the beginning of this match unloading on both guys. Both Goto and Hara are awesome as the bruiser tag partners whose job is to beat on the opposing teams big hitter. Hara brutalizes Onita early with headbutts busting him open, while Goto cracked Tenryu with lariats, superfly splashes and a a face first piledriver on the table. Then they clear out and let the two megastars match up. The finishing run may not have been the smoothest wrestling I have seen, but holy shit are Tenryu and Onita pair of charismatic motherfuckers who know how to draw you in a match. Tenryu's selling was brilliant here, at about the ten minute mark of the match he gets caught with a big DDT from Onita, and he is never able to shake off that shot. He goes back on offense, hits some big moves, but he has this awesome thousand yard stare even when he is firing back. When he finally goes down, it is a huge monster deal, but I buy Onita getting the win, even without explosions. The main event interpromotional WAR tag is one of the greatest thing in wrestling history.

ER: This was so great, and so different than what I was expecting! FMW coming into WAR's turf, yet Goto is the never say die bullied babyface, Onita makes puppy dog eyes, and Tenryu is the guy wandering around being a stoic asshole. I love this match though. It's so messy, really not pretty, but builds so cleanly and satisfyingly. Goto and Hara are the bulldogs being sicced on the opposing side's big dog, and the way we get there is classic. Stiff headbutts and lariats to the side of everybody's neck ensue, and Tenryu kicks Onita in the eye and forehead a dozen or more times. It's fairly routine in the beginning, until Goto has the nerve to break up a pin, and then Tenryu flips out on him, tosses him to the floor, and slaps and chops him into a pile. And it's a tasty moment, because Tenryu flying off the handle and getting so distracted by Goto doing his job leaves things wide open for Onita to recover a bit and DDT Tenryu as he gets back from jumping Goto. Just as Rick Rude sells an atomic drop finer than any other man before or since, Tenryu has always done the same glory to DDTs and piledrivers. His body always curls up a little as one hand holds his neck and the other focuses on the hot pain on top of his head. He eats another, manages to kick out, and also manages to tag Hara in. And brother, Goto does NOT forget about that beating that Tenryu gave him for saving Onita. As Onita is tangling with Hara, Goto storms into Tenryu's dwelling and blasts him with a chair, and spends the rest of the match making Tenryu pay for that early extra aggression. He really targets Tenryu and leaves him softened up for Onita. That piledriver slam on the table was ridiculous. I never even considered that the FMW boys might pull this off, but the longer this went I kept thinking "man a WAR comeback at this point would be just silly!" but that Onita pin was still super shocking.

PAS: Verdict, I loved this, WAR inter promotional tag is a style which resonates way more with me then All Japan main event puro classic. Still Misawa v. Kawada is the apex of that style, while this is an awesome interpromotional potato WAR, but a step below the incandescent stuff between WAR and NJ. 6/3/94 by a hair

ER: This match felt really unique, with some great strategy and several little stories running throughout. It's messiness was part of its shaggy charm, but it was also going up against something trimmed of fat and immaculately executed. So very different. But 6/3/94 is the peak of its own style, whereas we have seen better interpromotional wars (basically all of which I love), and I have to give respect to the king. 6/3/94 wins again.

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Saturday, March 18, 2017

CWF Mid-Atlantic Worldwide Episode 96

Episode 96

1. Otto Schwanz vs. PB Smooth

PAS: This was a fine big guy battle, Smooth is tall which will get you pretty far, it is unclear whether he has much else at this point. I really like Schwanz as a big boy veteran, although this had less stretching then the last time I saw him, really want to see Schwanz versus either Justice or Garrini, at some point I will review a WarGames with PB Smooth in it for WarGames Wednesday morning, hope it is better then this.

ER: This was what it was, which was basically Schwanz muscling around a limited guy his own size and setting up some decent spots for him. I really like Schwanz, he has a really timeless style and I think his look is even better now than when he was an actual mainstream guy. He's a little too nice to Smooth here though, as you get the sense before the match that he's going to make an example of this other tall dude coming into his turf. I don't really understand the point of billing Smooth at 7 feet tall. Schwanz is a really big guy, probably 6'3" to 6'5", and we can all see with our eyes that Smooth has maybe an inch on him. It's weird to be billing one guy as 7', while not in the same breath billing the other guy as 6'11". Is Redd Jones now the 6 feet tall referee? Is Statmark the 6'6" camera man? We all have eyeballs, and 6'6" is huge! No shame in calling a man 6 1/2 feet tall. So, I don't see the point, but I liked Schwanz, and Smooth at least cuts low on lariats and falls properly on slams. That might seem like low praise, but it's a good start for him.

2. Dominic Garrini vs. Cain Justice

PAS: Holy hell, what is this match? I have loved Justice before, but this felt like him taking the next leap, and fuck is Garrini fun to watch. For two rookies, this was off the charts, it felt like watching Minoru Suzuki and Masakatsu Funaki in their first UWF and Pro-Wrestling Fujiwara Gumi matches. Justice has Judo training and Garrini is a ranked Brazilian Ju-Jitsu competitor and they do an awesome job of showcasing those skills in a prowrestling context. The early mat rolling was really cool, I loved the kneebar countering and how smoothly Garrinin shifted from a rear naked choke into a twister. This was still a prowrestling match, and they both did cool things where they would be rolling for submissions, and one guy would catch his opponent in a cradle for quick pin attempt, getting small packaged isn't something Garrini has to worry about in Abu Dhabi grappling tourneys, and I liked how Justice threw in some pro-wrestling flavors. Justice nearly gets finished by a bunch of submissions and decides to get a little dirty, by banging Garini's arm off the ring post, and then we get a thrilling end run with Justice baring down on the arm while Dominic tries to catch him in chokes.

ER: During Garrini's hype vid last week I was getting really excited for this match, and I wasn't sure what to expect, but I wasn't expecting this. This was awesome. I was excited for the match, but didn't want to hype it up in my head too much, but it delivered far more than I could have expected. Both men try to roll the other's ankle, plant knees in calf muscles, hyperextend knees, a bunch of nice looking rolling that looked like it would be far too easy to end in an accidental achilles injury. Both guys twist in and out of danger, and we get some surprises. I loved Garrini pushing Cain off him with both feet and grabbing him in an armbar on the way down. But I really loved Cain being the one to start integrating pro wrestling elements into things, turning the probably more skilled Garrini into a fish out of water. Cain swinging Garrini's arm into the post was a great turning point, and we still got some great arm work from both guys after, with both forcing the other's arm behind their back. Everything looked extremely painful here, and outside of a sorta hinky running corner charge by Garrini, this was some unexpectedly high end stuff. These guys need to form a stable and call it UWF Mid-Atlantic.

3. Alex Daniels vs. Chip Day

PAS: Really fun workrate sprint match. Both guy unloaded with big shots from the start, Chip Day damn near split Daniels nipple with a chop and Daniels hit a great spin kick. Daniels is working a Ben Affleck gimmick where he yells out Affleck film names when he does moves, it is a little try hard, but I enjoyed his work. He hits some insane looking brainbuster into the turnbuckles which landed Day right on the top of his head, match falls apart a bit there, because there is no way that shouldn't be a finish, and Daniels had to take an inordinately long time setting up a top rope follow up just to get rolled up for this pin, it was similar the one problem in the Dirty Daddy/Cain Justice match at Battlecade, especially in a fed like CWF Mid-Atlantic huge head drops like that should be finishes, if you aren't getting the finish, leave it at home. Still I really dug most of this, reminded me of a fun first round Cruiserweight Classic match.

ER: I'm not sure I understand the Ben Affleck gimmick, as Daniels doesn't really look like Affleck other than being a white male. But it probably gets him more laughs than working a "young David Morse" gimmick. Just as Chip Day shouldn't start working as a vinyl shorts Chris Eigeman gimmick. But this was good, until the ending which Phil already covered. And I think it was good because this is typically a style we see worked in 14 minute matches, and it turns into boring overkill, and here we got it for a hot 6 minutes. The 6 minute length worked, and we got some cool stuff that didn't have time to wear itself out. Chip Day gets a little bit hand clappy during certain strikes, but he throws a nice double knees and his strikes at least look good, and I REALLY like Daniels' spin kicks. That headdrop move into the turnbuckle was ridiculous. Stutts says it's one of the craziest moves he's ever seen in a ring (and he's right...which only highlights how stupid it is to not be the finish), and they ably work some fast sequences. Quality match.

4. Arik Andrews v. Cool J

ER: They do a fun "fan draws Andrews opponent out of a fishbowl" gimmick before the match, and I love CL Party announcing "Cool J" to silence and groans, with one man audibly groaning and eyerolling out a "what the christ". Cool J is super tiny and I believe this is his debut. Announce crew does a great job of putting over just how tough it is to even get to a CWF debut, going over actual numbers of just how many people drop out of the dojo, how many people quit the grueling school because it's too hard, and how there are far more people who quit than people who make it to their debut. It's a way more interesting and honest way of putting over someone's debut than saying rote things like "He brings a lot of skills to this and is very talented" while he's getting massacred. This is an Andrews squash though, as it should be, and Cool J takes a nasty slam on his shoulders.

PAS: Cool J takes some big bumps which is what you want out of a rookie getting squashed, and I did really like the commentary, but this was a 3 minutes one sided squash, not much to say about it

5. Xsiris vs. Smith Garrett

PAS: Short heated brawl which nicely moves along this feud. They kept it intense, and I liked how Garrett used Xsiris's aggression against him to get the roll up. I think I may have liked some of the pull aparts better, but I am sure this is leading to a big blow off, which I am excited for.

ER: This was so awesome, Xsiris is one of my favorite current guys and his aggression is off the charts. All his simple stuff looks great and super painful, and I've really enjoyed everything these two have done so far (except Garrett's weird lip licking thing. That really needs to stop), and this was more good stuff. I know it's going to lead to a killer blowoff. Xsiris has been messing with Garrett, jumping him and beating the hell out of him, and then turning around and leaving, and when Garrett got the roll up win here I instantly thought "Xsiris is going to go nuts eventually". CWF has several of these larger bruising bully puncher types, with Attitude and Schwanz and CW Anderson as well as Xsiris, and it's one of my absolute favorite styles, and one of the reasons this fed is so appealing. Great stuff all around.

ER: Well, Cain Justice vs. Dominic Garrini pretty much blew both of us away, easily earning a spot on our 2017 Match of the Year List. And, after talking it over, Phil and I both decided that it's our current #1. People should be on the lookout for these two.

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Friday, March 17, 2017

Thinking of Installing Solar Panels? Read This Berzerker Review First

"Berzerker! Mr. Fuji! It's Summerslam, and Mr. Fuji if you try to interfere, the great spirits will let me know, and I will get you! And Berzerker, I am going to scalp you with a tomahawk chop!" ~Tatanka

53. Berzerker vs. Tatanka - WWF Summerslam 8/29/92

The war between two different historical savages, both fighting to prove whose God is more powerful. Berzerker, representing Odin, versus Tatanka, representing....well, I have no idea what specific God Tatanka's tribe worships so we'll just assume Tatanka is a godless savage. Odin versus NOTHINGNESS! Noted lovable Romanian scamp Emil Cioran once said "The deepest and most organic death is death in solitude, when even light becomes a principle of death. In such moments you will be severed from life, from love, smiles, friends and even from death. And you will ask yourself if there is anything besides the nothingness of the world and your own nothingness." Holy shit! That's what Berzerker is up against!?!? AND I didn't even realize this match existed until today! And this makes me feel real bad for Berzerker, as it means his Bulldog match got scrapped from Mania, and THEN his Tatanka match got scrapped from Summerslam! That's cold shit right there. There are four PPVs a year and he's the only guy to get scrapped from TWO of them! But the match was taped and it's a hoot! It's only 5 minutes, but they use the time well and craft a super fun match. Tatanka was insanely protected during his WWF run, so Berzerker spends much of the match putting over Tatanka. Berzerker was very generous when he was against a top babyface. They open with a knucklelock test of strength, and it ends awesomely with Tatanka muscling Berzerker back, leading to his fast backwards bump to the floor. Later he gets his leg kicked out and does his splits bump that fills me with such joy. His control segments are a blast as it's in Wembley so there's tons of people and the ring is up on a platform, so Berzerker drags him to ringside and down the platform into the aisle and slams him (and then later on gets slammed himself), and in the ring plants him with his great falling slam. When Tatanka starts being filled with the strength and spirits of all his vanquished ancestors, Berzerker is great about flopping around for tomahawk chops, but once Tatanka goes into his Indian trance in 1992, brother there is zero chance he's being beaten.

54. Berzerker vs. Bret Hart - WWF Wrestling Challenge 10/13/92

This match could have been so much better! I mean, they had a great match a year before this, and this was a matter of not just time constraints (it was 4 minutes, the other match was 11), but also Bret being fairly lazy with the match structure. He didn't give Berzerker a lot of offense, but had to get all of his trademark shit in: the atomic drop, the back breaker, flying forearm, russian legsweep, elbow off the middle, Sharpshooter; he got all of it. Berzerker got hardly any of his shit in (though he did get in a wicked delayed piledriver, which was admittedly the best), but he bumped like Bret was a king. His best bump was early on when Bret grabs him by his mane and throws him out backwards over the top to the floor; but it's easy to appreciate how he bumps for moves, like the way he arches his back in pain after taking the back breaker, flopping for a forearm, held his balls after the atomic drop, etc. He could have been much more selfish with his size, but he's just too much of a nice guy. No. No, Bret's the selfish jerk here.

55. Berzerker vs. Buck Zumhofe - WWF 10/26/92

Classic AWA rivalry resumed! After six dormant years! They retired it, buried it, but the fan demand was TOO HIGH and they practically OWED it to the fans to revive it. It would have been rude to NOT give them this match, this match what they wanted so devastatingly. Also, this officially makes Berzerker the Conqueror of the Child Molesters. We saw him beat down ginger kid diddler Dave Millison in July '91, and now he puts the boots to an arguable Top 3 shitbag in pro wrestling history (#2 tops)!! Buck Zumhofe can die a miserable death, and it made me wish Berzerker had stiffed him more. Berzerker goes fairly gentle on him, as it's probable that they are friends from AWA, so Berzerker throws him a bone by not doing his meanest moves to him. It must be tough to go from being treated like a top guy, to a few years later losing 2 minute matches. Berzerker was too nice. He did slam him back first into the ringpost, but that's a meager concession.

56. Berzerker vs. John Paul - WWF Wrestling Challenge 11/22/92

If you showed up to these reviews for as much HUSSing as you could possibly handle, then this is the match for you. I'm confident that this is Berzerker's highest HPMS (Huss Per Match Second) I've seen. John Paul is merely handsome window dressing, there to eat a couple of big boots to the side of his face. No, this match was much more about Berzerker fully engaging the crowd with HUSSes, almost getting to a WHAT level of call and response, just working that free jazz call and response aesthetic with his HUSSing. John Paul would get pinned by a long delayed falling slam (I wonder if certain jobbers informed the office or Nord that they couldn't take a bump to the floor, and that's what lead to them being pinned? Who knows!? I need to figure out a way to interview Nord for this project), but the fans wanted the HUSS action, and the fans got HUSSed. Tonight, HUSS was for the people.

"My Berzerker is ready for YOU Crush! He's made to crush you apart" ~Mr. Fuji

"YEAAAHH CRUSH! You really like to crush things! Well I'll tell you what I'm gonna do to you, is I'm gonna slam you on that cement, and I'm gonna crush your back, and we're gonna see if you can get up! And if you do get up Crush, I got a sword, and I'm gonna use it!" ~Berzerker

57. Berzerker vs. Crush - WWF Smack 'Em Whack 'Em 11/23/92

Oh my god this was GOOD! Kona Crush was one of my least liked guys in WWF. I hated his look, hated his fluffy frosted mullet, hated his chubby baby fat face. Crush was not a wrestler I looked forward to seeing. But this was arguably the most I have enjoyed him, and we can point directly to Berzerker as the reason. Berzerker put over Crush's strength HUGE, and it was great. They do a couple tests of strength, one ending with Berzerker getting thrown backwards and taking his fast backwards bump over the top to the floor, and then a shoulderblock exchange sees him also quickly whip himself over to the floor. I love that bump. Berzerker comes back in with a big boot and the Crush admirably takes his own bump to the floor, opting to go out through the middle ropes but taking it more like a luchador, which looked weird but cool. Berzerker controls things with these great annoying boots to the head, not letting Crush get to his feet, just stalking around him and needling him with these push kicks. He hits a big delayed piledriver, and it's a shame (and also logical) that he didn't break out the piledriver more as he has a nice one. He misses the big kneedrop which gives Crush an opening, and Crush hits a really nice atomic drop and a side slam, before squeezing Berzerker's head until he passed out. I was realllllly hoping for one minor Berzerker comeback during the head squeeze, such as him looking as if he might fight out of it, before eventually succumbing. It did take Crush awhile to finish him with the vice, so perhaps we were supposed to be interpreting that as Berzerker fighting through it, but I would have liked that visually represented better. Still, this match was so good, which is a strong upgrade over every single online review I found. Those reviews collectively described this match as essentially the saddest fart sound in the world. And they were wrong. If anything, this was a joyous, confident, trumpeting fart sound, delivered in front of your friends and family, who would go on to share in your joy.


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Thursday, March 16, 2017

CWF Mid-Atlantic Worldwide Episode 95

Episode 95

1. Ethan Alexander Sharpe/Dr. Daniel C. Rockingham vs. Mecha Mercenary/Aaron Biggs

PAS: Rockingham is a guy from AIW, he is fine, but I am not sure why they are importing comedy guys, when they have plenty of their own. This was an extended squash, which is pretty literal when you have the Sandwich Squad. Thought this could have been a bit shorter, but I love watching fat dudes smush guys.

ER: So Rockingham is a spitting image of young Bob Mould, Sharpe is a spitting image of Greg Norton, and frequent Sharpe tag partner White Mike Jordan is pretty close to looking like Grant Hart. I'm not sure what to do with this information, but at minimum they should enter a costume comedy Halloween battle royal (I assume there are several feds in the area that run costume comedy Halloween battle royals) as Husker Don't, or as a Husker Du/New Day parody trio called New Day Rising. Is Bob Mould still a wrestling fan?

Anyway, this match was really fun. It was longer than I expected, which just means we got more time for big fat guy elbow drops and giant avalanches and fat dudes standing on guys. My favorite part was actually pretty early, as Sharpe squared up against Biggs, and Biggs just popped him with a jab. The jab was beautiful, and Sharpe milked the sale for everything. I liked Sandwich Squad not treating them like 100% jokes, as Biggs seemed to laugh off the shoulders to the gut in the corner at first, but as Sharpe kept them up he started grimacing more. But this was the Sandwich Squad show, and it was a good one. Both dudes have those classic One Man Gang tapered butts, so you know they're good fat dudes.

PAS: They have a bunch of interviews and video packages, individually all of them were good, and they got me excited for next week, but it was a long time between matches.

ER: I also got pretty hyped for all these upcoming matches. The Xsiris stuff especially was really good and the package on his upcoming fight with Smith Garrett was tight, simple, showed all the relevant parts to their story, really solid stuff. I'm not buying 7 feet tall on PB Smooth. I mean, unless Eddie Kingston is like 6'6". Still, I'm happy they keep finding random tall and/or fat dudes. The clips of Dominic Garini (sp?) looked really cool and it looks like Justice will get smoked. Excited to see how they work that match. 

2. Nick Richards/Chet Sterling vs. Arik Royal/Roy Wilkins

PAS: Lots of this I really liked, although I am not sure if every came together completely. Royal and Wilkins are an awesome team, I love heel Royal in CWF he is such a great shittalker, he is talking trash from the moment the bell rings, and even steals a ladies fedora and does a moonwalk. That works really well with Wilkins more deliberate asskicker style. I liked Richards in this too, he is a fun brawler and really goes toe to toe with both guys. I continue not to dig Sterling, and I though he looked kind of awkward when he was in, and I it seemed to fall apart a bit during the end run. Still the right team went over and I am excited to see Royal and Wilkins in the Kernodle Cup.

ER: I also liked this, while also thinking it fell apart towards the end. But I'm not sure things fell apart, as much as they just threw out traditional tag structure at some point. Right around when Sterling hot tagged in (and hit a nice shot on Wilkins as Wilkins charged across the ring), structure kind of went out the window. I can't say it hurt things, but it did feel a little more messy, chaotic. But I liked all 4 guys in this, and love the Royal/Wilkins tag team. Royal is a beast, and super charismatic, and I loved all his offense on Sterling, that mean ass tackle to end the match and that big Thesz press off the apron. He kept seeming like he would do these big moves to Sterling when Sterling was not expecting them, like Sterling's focus would be on Wilkins and then he'd get leveled. But I like Sterling's energy, really liked his reckless cannonball/blockbuster, and I think Phil may just dislike him because of his muttonchops (although he likes the very awesome Tyler Bateman so he's not opposed to silly facial hair. Hmmmmm). Richards always breaks out a new trick every time I see him, and here I loved him riling up Royal in the corner by just smooshing the palm of his hand all over Royal's face, getting him to charge at him. Wilkins does this spot that shouldn't work, where he yanks his opponent hard into the middle rope while he leaps through the ropes to the floor. And it shouldn't work! It looks like some garbage convoluted Marufuji spot, but I totally dig it. Meant to mention it in his match last week against Dirty Daddy, but forgot. But yeah, this was fun, really enjoyed everyone, and Royal/Wilkins should go really far in the Kernodle Cup,

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Wednesday Morning War Games: NWA Anarchy - Azreal and Hate Junkies v. UAS and Kimo

Urban Assault Squad (Nemesis and Shadow Jackson)/Kimo v. Hate Junkies (Stryknyn and Dany Only)/Azrael NWA Anarchy 10/29/11

This match only had one ring and was 3 on 3, so it stretches the War Games definition a bit, but it delivered in the gritty violence area. Anarchy has run a bunch of War Games matches which fits with Atlanta metro area location and the seedy violence of the arena. I loved the Stryknyn and Nemesis opening section really intense brawling with Stryknyn especially laying in some brutal stomps, Stryknyn also wins the Tommy Rich award as he is leaking all over the ring. Azrael stood out too, as he is a big guy who took some wild upside down bumps into the cage. Match didn't have too much of a story, for a while the heel team was working over Jacksons bad ankle, but Kimo slapped on a submission without a ton of build. Still this felt like a street fight between a death metal band and a bunch of Crips, and it is hard to not love that.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

1997 Match of the Year

El Hijo del Santo vs. Negro Casas CMLL 9/19/97

ER: What an awesome scrap. One of the fascinating things about this match is for the first 15+ minutes one man is fighting off his back, and it's usually not from matwork. These two were basically scrapping and rolling around in the dirt and throwing mean shots, but in a beautiful nasty lucha way. This match may have set the record for upkicks, with both men taking turns on the defensive, scrambling to avoid strikes while throwing nasty strikes of their own. Casas kicks Santo around the ring and immediately has him on the ropes, and builds to one of the grossest knee attacks I've seen, as Santo's leg is draped on the rope and Casas just jumps butt first into the side of it, and I have clue how Santo's knee just didn't get dislocated. And from there Santo just decides to keep that knee active, and the best way he comes up with is by kicking Casas, a lot. When I think of who has my favorite stomps in wrestling, my brain instinctively thinks of some big hoss, they don't think of a man who is essentially built like a several inches shorter version of myself. But Santo's stomps are perfection, just these short little lightning bursts, prodding Casas in the face and ribs and back of the head. And so we get matwork all throughout this war, but it's not what I think of when I think "lucha matwork". This whole match felt vaguely uncooperative. It wasn't, obviously, these two men are pros, but that struggle was there that is often missing in lucha. Nobody was offering up an arm and getting into position, Santo would grab an arm and get punched in the face. Look at both struggles over Santo locking on the camel clutch: Negro Casas was struggling the way you would struggle if your older brother was trying to actually put a camel clutch on you. Santo locking that clutch on was like my girlfriend and I trying to put our cat in his pet carrier to go to the vet. He would lock one arm, then try to grab Casas' face while also trying for the other arm, and then the initial arm would break free, just a constant struggle. Later in the match he comes up against the same thing and after struggling to give this cat his medicine just opts to surprise Casas by going exclusively after his arm, and that wins it. And the whole match has little things like that, one guy trying a move and the other person not "cooperating", so just improv-ing another way to inflict damage. It's beautiful in this great messy way. We get a couple of big Santo dives, with that vault over the top being especially impressive (I've stood next to this man, and he cannot be more than 5'6"), but this whole thing was just a tangled, glorious scrap.

PAS: I really think this is a truly unique wrestling match. It isn't a traditional lucha brawl, no tossing into the seats, no big blood, it isn't a title match, the matwork here was completely uncooperative and violent and the strikes were ungodly stiff. I have heard it compared to BattlArts (maybe by me, in an early review I can't remember) but I was actually thinking more of one of those hellacious Hara WAR matches. This wasn't shootstyle as much as a match where every little move seemed a little too rough, a little too hard. This didn't feel like it was based in martial arts, it felt based on the Dan Dority v. Captain Turner fight in Deadwood. Everytime someone was on the ground the other guy would be trying to kick his eye in or stomp him in the temple. I loved how the match would shift from violent to beautiful, one moment Casas would be throwing dirty boxing uppercuts and the next Santo would be flying through the air like a soaring seaside silver gull. I loved the finish so much, Casas is squirming underneath Santo avoiding the Camel Clutch, so Santo decides to rip his arm out of the socket, I honestly don't know how Casas didn't really dislocate his shoulder. What a match, my goodness.

All Time MOTY List

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Monday, March 13, 2017

CWF Mid-Atlantic Worldwide Episode 94

Episode 94

1. Cain Justice vs. Montana Black

PAS: Montana Black is a huge guy, probably 6'3 350, and it is fun to watch Cain as a sneaky heel bumping around for a monster. I especially loved the finish as he snatched an arm out of the air and yanked it into a submission. Really got him over as a dangerous guy who can tap you from anywhere. Justice is turning into one of my favorite guys to watch, he just needs to dump that cornball indy name.

ER: Black really is huge, and has a good face, not too hard to imagine him showing up in NXT sooner rather than later. The Mark Henry-cut singlet looks good on him and with his size he could be a big deal. He's got a ways to go but they limited his stuff so they never ended up in trouble, and he showed a couple nice "little things" moments, like when he pinned Justice close to the ropes and tucked Justice's arm so he couldn't grab it. Positioning mistakes are things that 15 year pros make so him doing little things like that is a good sign. There were some moments where both guys were working inside themselves a bit too much, ducking a clothesline that never happened, Justice bumping a lariat before it happened, stuff that's less forgivable from but more understandable from them. I did love both attempts at the arm, with Justice grabbing it and Black powering through to a suplex, and then the one that ended the match. It looked cool and was a believable way to cut the size difference. And I agree with Phil about a name change being necessary. How about....Shane Justice.

2. Patrick Scott vs. Cam Carter vs. Jacob Ryan vs. Ian Maxwell

PAS: This is a rookie 4-way with ever trope you might expect from a rookie 4-way. Tower of doom spot, dive train, every guy hits his finisher run. I thought Cam Carter was probably the stand out, he had the most ups on his dives and bumps, still it was hard to get a sense of whether any of these guys are going to be worth following

ER: This was fine enough for what it was, but it was a bit much to debut four rookies, from four training camps, with four sociopath "two first names" names. I thought Cam Carter was actually the least of the bunch, he had those real floaty Killshot/Petey Williams bumps, and looked totally lost during that final minute segment (though I liked how he bumped an inverted STO on his chin). I'm backing Patrick Scott as the stand out; he kept the flash low but clearly looked like the best base of the group, and glued that dive train together, seemed like he had the most effective bumps and knew when to take his turns. Ian Maxwell felt like he had the most confidence, trying out some unique strikes and some bigger bumps, some of which didn't worked but he did everything assuredly and that goes a long way for me. Jacob Ryan has an unfortunately soft body for a smaller guy, but I did like a running knee he broke out late in the match. I was expecting to like a rookie 4 way scramble a lot less than I did, and each guy did at least something I liked without doing anything egregious, so I think that's a win.

3. Roy Wilkins vs. Dirty Daddy

PAS: I really liked this, I am not sure how much I enjoy Wilkins cerebral gimmick is because of the good job the announcers do in getting it over, but I really enjoy Wilkins cerebral gimmick. Dirty Daddy is a fun fired up babyface, and this a cool Bockwinkle v. Tito Santana style match. I loved how Wilkins kept Daddy close, constantly staying connected grabbing an arm or a leg. I even liked his Flair style cheap shotting and cheating. Great TV match.

ER: I liked this too. Dirty Daddy feels like someone who wouldn't work for me, but I like his weird strikes, he has a killer jab, and his selling is ace. I also liked the Misawa throwback tights. I *do* think Phil is onto something with Wilkins' character getting a lot of help from the announce crew. I think in this match a lot of his motivations were really a Stutts creation, and I'm totally okay with that. We write about pro wrestling and often project motivations or story where they may not be, and I love that part of the game. I really liked when Wilkins tricked Daddy into a punch exchange, and then sidestepped and grabbed an abdominal stretch. Great spot. Coach's interference was also effective, as Wilkins grabbing the towel for leverage looked like legit leverage. You can easily see these two guys working fun matches on syndicated WCW Saturday Night.

4. Rising Generation League Battle Royal

PAS: Aric Andrews comes out and says he will give whoever wins this match a title shot, and I loved how exasperated he got as a bunch of veterans entered the rookie battle royal. It was a battle royal, some nasty over the top rope bumps, but not much else, I did like the quick match with Andrews and the CZW kid, fun bit of wrestling business, but nothing memorable.

ER: I'm a big battle royal fan, especially live. And my god that moment where Cain Justice comes out to see if he could be in the royal, and Andrews hasn't caught on to what is happening but then starts realizing? Gold. And the speed the wrestlers come out from the back is awesome, just a stream of dudes suddenly pouring out. But I think Phil is really underrating this segment. The battle royal was really fun, with Mecha Mercenary wandering around uppercutting people after tossing some rookies, Donnie Dollars also doing some fine punch and wander, and then several really nasty rookie eliminations. The final four eliminations get a little sloppy but up until then we got some pretty great bumps. I thought the Arik Andrews/Tahir James match directly after was pretty awesome. I had never seen James before but liked what we got, and thought it was a really solid "underdog survives longer than expected" singles match. Andrews jumps him with a nasty shot to the back of the head and drags him to a decent beating for 5 minutes. Andrews showed some ass while also looking like a sadistic prick, and I got really into James' comebacks. This whole segment (battle royal/match) was my favorite thing on the show.

5. "The Southern Savior" John Skyler vs. Snooty Foxx

PAS: This match reminded me of Flair v. Sting from the Clash, solid veteran heel taking on a young green powerhouse and making a match of it. Foxx has a ways to go, but he has good energy and a connection to the crowd. Skyler is a great southern indy hand, works in some cheap shots, some nice punches, shows vulnerability and sneaks out a cheap win. I liked Wilkins v. Daddy better, but both were good examples of heel veterans plying their craft.

ER: I also liked this one although I felt it went a bit too long, and both guys looked a little sluggish down the finishing stretch. The crowd is obviously into Fox and he connects with them, and his stuff is coming along nicely. He'll throw a bad looking punch, but then follow up with a nice one, so you get the feeling that things are going to come together for him sooner rather than later. Skyler facilitated him nicely, with a highlight being his massive spit sell after running face first into a Fox back elbow. I liked Fox starting out just steamrolling Skyler but maybe working too hard too fast, leaving an opening for Skyler to ground him and wear him out. I thought the finish run punch exchange was a little silly, as Skyler works at grounding him for 10 minutes and then just decides to stand and strike. Still, this felt like a really good Power Plant rookie vs. southern vet match, and that's a match up I always like.

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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Lucha Underground Season 3, Episode 11: Aztec Warfare III


feat. Matanza, Johnny Mundo, Son of Havoc, Jeremiah Crane, Pentagon Jr., PJ Black, Mariposa, Rey Mysterio, Dr. Wagner Jr., Marty "The Moth" Martinez, Jack Evans, Sexy Star, Ricky Mandel, Mascarita Sagrada, Famous B, The Mack, Joey Ryan, Mil Muertes, Kobra Moon, Drago

ER: Ugh. I knew it was happening. The second Matanza got eliminated I checked my notes to see who was still left in the match, and even though I was watching alone, I groaned aloud "Oh, nooooo," into the darkness of my living room. I don't think anybody can make a reasonable argument that she looked better than one person in this match. There were a couple guys like Mascarita and Mandel who got eliminated immediately, but we've seen those two before and know that not every piece of offense they do looks like garbage. You cannot say that same thing about Star. She looked so bad in this, botching the simplest roll ups and looking completely ineffective. I have no idea why LU is going all in on Sexy Star. I haven't known for the entire duration of LU. And they really should have had the few Sexy Star superfan plants sitting separately, and not so obviously cutting to their reactions. Bush league move from a fed who often gets those little details right. But obviously they lose all logic when it comes to her.

It's also weird how much of a non-factor Wagner is. For a guy who cares about his image so much, it's weird to see him treated like he was essentially Super Calo in WCW. And my do some of Mundo's flips look bad. At once point he vaulted off PJ Black's back, flipped, and landed on his own head.

The rest of the match had plenty of nice moments. Matanza adding an extra spin to his Wrath of the Gods. All of Crane's kicks. Rey yanking Famous B into the ropes by his necktie and Famous B's subsequent selling of the 619. Jack Evans perhaps with the performance of the match, flying into things like a lunatic. Shout outs to Matanza's chair bumps. Moth's huge dive. Mack's giant flip dive. I even enjoyed that fun run in from Fox Force Four. But shit man, that ending.

MD: This is all Johnny Mundo's fault. He originally had 12. I really liked that initial skit bit too, with Taya playing the moll with the camera and Dario ripping up the number. It was especially great that Melissa still called it random draw too. That said, it meant he became 2 and Sexy Star became 12. Now, then, the counter point to this is that she could have been in the entire first half of the match too. While I'm harping on the beginning, Striker is the worst. Yes, we get it that we see the backstage stuff and he doesn't, but the idea that he's just getting word that Mundo isn't cashing in when Dario, basically the only other person who can give him word is accounted for is just goofy. What, the Lucha Underground Championship Committee sent him a telegram?

Look, Eric bitched about Sexy Star for a paragraph and then spent like, five other sentences talking about the rest of the match. You can see it right there. I have to lean into the pre-match detail here.

In all seriousness, I agree about the nice moments. There were a ton and Matanza was behind a lot of them. Him dragging Mundo in to the ring to give him a German; him grabbing Son of Havoc's (who can often wrestle bigger than he is) beard and then some of the choreography between the two just before Crane came in; him taking out everyone pissed off after Pentagon ambushed him on the floor; the tease with Mariposa; the way he just killed Crane with that German (even if that meant Crane left too early); getting slapped(!) by Marty; the double twist Wrath on Sagrada; the spinout Belly-to-Back to get Wagner and the double pin and stare off with Mil that followed; and him just destroying Rey. This was Matanza's match.

In general, I love the amount of thought they put into this. There was always another set piece, always another bit of action, always interaction between wrestlers, and frankly, even for as small a group as LU, a lot of these match ups did seem fresh. Marty, especially, getting to interact with all sorts of people, or just a little bit of Pentagon and Wagner trying to work together against Rey. The Rey/B stuff was tons of fun. The ninjas vs Pentagon bit was fun. The problem is that they didn't manage the negative space well. They kept things moving along at such a pace that nothing ever set in enough to mean as much as it should.

Striker was pretty terrible throughout this. For instance, calling Worldwide Underground "One Powerful Luchador" together was a great way to undercut one of their lead heels and title holders in Mundo. Then there was the post-match spiel as he carefully read his pre-written book report on Sexy Star winning. Brutal. They didn't frame the moment well either. They faded to black way soon. Good booking decision or bad booking decision, the value in putting Sexy Star over is in milking the moment. They're usually good at that, but here it just faded to black, so that the last image you saw was basically this:


I know I associate this miraculous title win with bagel bites. What about you?

ER: I like to think that I did less bitching, and more "writing justified complaints".


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Saturday, March 11, 2017

All Time MOTY List Head to Head: WarGames V. Vader v. Fujinami

Tatsumi Fujinami v. Vader CWA 12/21/91

PAS: Nothing I love more then when a classic match like this shows up out of nowhere. Until a couple of weeks ago I had no idea these guys even matched up in Germany, and here it is. This is on par with the best singles matches either guy has had. Fujinami is really aggressive, taking it right at Vader including opening up with a slap in the mouth. Vader smashes him with some of those slightly harder then expected blows but Fujinami opens up his eye with a post shot and then really works over the eye including an awesome looking flying forearm right to the socket. My only real problem was the finish as Fujinami kicks out right at three which takes some of the steam out of the pin. Still a big time main event fight between two bad ass dudes.

ER: Wow. Right out of the gate I expected to not need to watch this match, as Vader enters through the crowd on a cherry picker, and then postures at the top of the cherry picker in his mastodon helmet as horror movie monster noises play over the PA. That's pretty much all I personally needed to call this the best match of 1991. I have never seen this match before, and was totally blown away. Had no clue they matched up in Germany, and I totally agree with Phil that this is on par with each man's best work. Fujinami is a guy who I acknowledge is a great pro wrestler, but he's not a guy I actively seek out. There's only so much wrestling time in the day. But this Fujinami? This was a Fujinami that I could get comfortable with. Not only did he stand up to Vader's absolute shit kicking like a boss, but then he brought it right back. Vader turned in an all time performance, lashing out at the crowd, beating the holy hell out of Fujinami, and leaning into all of Fujinami's comebacks. Vader flying body first into the ringpost was an incredible image, just this giant man barreling at an improbable speed and crashing into pressed steel. Fujinami blasts Vader with a hard plastic chair, both men throw some of the hardest lariats I've seen, the work all around Vader's arm and shoulder was awesome (and I also loved Vader powering through the arm work and throwing a lariat, just to boast), and I actually like the finish. Vader does a huge butt splash and eeks out a pin and then lies on the mat exhausted, while Fujinami is immediately apoplectic that he was this close to beating Vader, and came up short. Both men looked like the most violent kings.

War Games Review

PAS: This was really close, I think the War Games match had a couple more memorable moments, but this match didn't end with a failed center prospect cradling his little pal like a baby, this was an entire match with the big fight feel of the first part of War Games, and a hell of a discovery.

ER: I thought the WarGames was an extremely strong champ, and I wasn't expecting to knock it down to #2 in the first challenge. But this match was pro wrestling to me. This was all violence and passion and hoss absurdity. That should take nothing away from WarGames, as that match is incredibly special, and it's not like this is a blowout. But for me, Vader/Fujinami in Germany baby.


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Friday, March 10, 2017

Lucha Worth Watching: Liga Elite Undercard! Blue Demon as Zandig!

1. Imposible/Peligro vs. Ciclon Ramirez Jr./Leon Dorado Jr. (Liga Elite 9/30/16)

I'm continuing to dig this Liga Elite undercard, with Imposible especially standing out. I've never seen Peligro or Leon Dorado before this, but Ciclon has been impressing me as well. Dorado seemed really green, hitting some kind of sloppy flying offense, but he took a nice post bump and got dragged around nicely by Imposible, gets blasted by an awesome Thesz press while stuck in a chair, basically seems up for a beating. His big moment comes later in the match where he hits a nutso balcony dive, just plunging into the crowd. They filmed it from underneath and from behind, so you get the angle of him diving into nothingness, and him crashing onto dudes. Imposible runs the primera like a great rudo, all building to Ciclon's big comeback in the segunda. Imposible takes a big Fuerza bump, knocking Peligro into the crowd, then Ciclon hits an out of control dive that plasters Imposible into the barrier and sends himself into the crowd. Tercera continues the wild end of the segunda, with Ciclon tying up Imposible in a trippy submission, then Imposible hitting him with a flapjack chestbreaker. Dorado and Peligro aren't as good as their partners, but they aren't in for nearly as long, and I loved how Ciclon inserted himself back in the match by breaking up a pinfall with a huge diving dropkick. Both tecnicos hit big suicide dives, then Peligro nearly dies hitting his own dive, catching his heels on the top rope and thanking the heavens that Ciclon rushed up to save his bacon. Imposible puts down Dorado with a tricked out rolling armbar for the match. They tried a lot of stuff, and not all of it worked, but the energy was high, Imposible and Ciclon are legit, and the undercard of Elite is busting their collective butts.

2. LA Park vs. Blue Demon Jr. (Liga Elite 9/30/16)

Park is a fat, out of control original Sheik at this point. Now that Elite is touring through other towns and not allowed (?) to use Arena Mexico, they're hitting up these smaller cool arenas, and Park is just kicking in the door, kicking balls, throwing chairs and garbage, wresting trays away from vendors, tearings masks, bleeding, and then soaking it all up before leaving without a decisive victory or loss. Is he killing towns? Or is he bringing chaos and excitement to lives? I think the latter. Blue Demon's transformation is still a shock to me, and I have no idea what brought it on. He takes such furious beatings now, and now that he's 50 he tries harder in his matches than I've seen previously. Park jumps him in the aisle, which is how these things go now, and he beats the hell out of Demon, throws him into the crowd as Demon lands grossly on chairs, powerbombs him through a couple of folding chairs in a way no 50 year old man should be powerbombed, whips Demon with his belt, yanks a wooden beer tray out of the hands of a vendor who looked like he did not want to lose his beer tray, and before long Demon is busted open. It's a great visual as the blood is running down his arms and on his hands and chest. But Demon's walking tall comebacks have been great, and Park knows how to facilitate them. Now Park bumps wildly into chairs and Demon hits a big dive, and the crowd is hot. Before long the match devolves into several ref bumps, both men bleeding and kicking balls, trading nearfalls, Park taking his corner flip bump, Park hitting a big powerslam, and upon getting DQ'd Park starts flipping out and undoing the ring ropes. This was a real blast. Park is arguably the most charismatic man in wrestling, and Demon has put on them working boots as best as he can. Great old guy battle.

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