Segunda Caida

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

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

2012 Match of the Year

John Cena v. Brock Lensar WWE 4/29/12

PAS: You often here this match compared to the best Sting v. Vader matches, but rewatching it, it actually reminded me more of the Cactus Jack v. Vader series. The beating Lesnar lays on Cena breaks the boundaries of pro-wrestling, in the opening seconds Lesnar slices open his face with MMA elbows and lands downed knees which look like they broke Cena's ribs. Lesnar felt truly dangerous, something completely other, the MMA gloves and Jimmy John's shorts were like nothing anyone had seen in the WWE, and that flurry at the beginning signaled that this was a different thing. Cena was great as the foil for the monster, he was overwhelmed and destroyed, but you always believed he had a punchers chance. His powerbomb from the Kimura is one of the great strength spots in wrestling history, and I loved how the kept teasing Chekov's bicycle chain, until that final big punch. Lesnar is a total nutball, he leaps full sped headfirst into a fist covered with a chain. Totally crazy one punch KO, Lesnar starts leaking immediately, and is a glassy eyed mess. Great finish, to arguably the best match in WWE history

ER: I don't honestly understand how a lot of this was allowed to happen. A giant man was basically allowed to give brain damage to the company's top money maker, and do all sorts of moves that looked like they could have severely damaged any of Cena's limbs. Cena is a lunatic, and Brock is a monster. This is Batman without his utility belt going up against Bane hopped up on Venom. Cena takes an absolute thrashing, genuinely getting hard to watch at times. Lesnar busts him open early with an elbow to the side of the head, clobbers him around like nothing, and then lands one of the grossest knees to the ribs you've seen. Cena is lying fetal and Brock just rears that knee back and blows right through him, it looked like Cena's entire torso collapsed, then Lesnar pushes him out of the ring with his feet, as if he were shoving a bag of Quikrete out the back of a truck. And it just keeps getting worse. Lesnar continues caving in Cena's insides.

At first the crowd is belting out dueling chants. And at one point it just gets quiet. People are suddenly just watching an elephant slowly drown. A mom is holding her kids in the front row. All you see are open mouths, everywhere. Brock is wiping Cena's blood on himself, kneeing him more, raining down isolated fists that look the same size as my head. Cena takes a couple of lariats that look man-killing. At one point Charles Robinson takes a nasty bump into the ropes and to the floor, which all leads to Lesnar tying Cena's legs with his own dumb chain. Lesnar rips at Cena's arm - and I do mean rips, as it looks like he can literally rip Cena's arm from his torso. With his feet chained, Cena gets hung from the ring post by his ankles, and it comes off incredibly organic. We've all seen lame "tie a guy's hands to the ropes" spots, and they're always a major mental stretch. Here it seems like Cena had no say in the matter, Brock was going to hang him by his fucking ankles. Brock goes on the bang Cena's arm into the apron a couple times, with Cena's pain being palpable the whole time. We get an all time insane moment when Lesnar does a flying hip attack to knock Cena off the apron, and comes in too hot and too high, flying totally protected over the top and crashing HARD on the floor. We rarely witness a flying wrestler not in control of their own body, but here was 300 pounds of mass that had no clue where it was headed. This sounds dramatic, but he literally could have died. Seeing him unexpectedly fall, he just as easily could have dropped straight onto his head. Finish is flat out perfect. Cena's chain has been teased as a weapon all match, only coming into play when Lesnar wrapped up Cena's legs earlier. But Cena eyes that chain on the floor, discreetly wraps his fist, and when Lesnar goes for another leaping shoulderblock Cena just clocks him right between the eyes. Lesnar goes out like a light and the crowd erupts. Lesnar just Wile E. Coyote'd himself into Cena's tunnel-painted-on-bricks. An AA on the ring steps makes this academic, and perfect. I'm with Phil, as at the moment I cannot think of a WWE match I love more. A true, unduplicatable masterpiece.


ALL TIME MOTY MASTER LIST


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Monday, May 22, 2017

WWE Backlash 2017, One Day Removed from Live Blog

1. Aiden English vs. Tye Dillinger

ER: I'm happy to see English doing his theatrical singing again, his whole act and in-ring was one of my favorite things about 2014 NXT. Dillinger's giant collared vest looks like something one of the women might wear for a PPV title match, cosplaying the Evil Queen. Whereas English has some amazing Van Gogh Starry Night tights, which is probably just the second instance of fine art being used on tights, after Rick Rude used Renoir's A Portrait of Cheryl Roberts. And I really dug this match until the exchange of bad looking finishers. The opening go behind stuff was really good, loved English yanking Dillinger's arm and shoulder into the top rope. After spending his whole intro song running down Chicago, I appreciate English yelling "This is my town!!" before whiffing a punch. Dillinger has a bad flying forearm but some shockingly nice corner 10 punches. If your gimmick is the whole "10" thing, you may as well perfect the move most associated with a 10 count. English hits a silly flipping neckbreaker and then starts breaking down afterwards, with JBL saying English is a true method actor, who can turn the tears on and off on command. Obviously JBL has no clue what method acting is. If English was a method actor they would have needed 27 takes on him crying, broken up by a 45 minute call to his Stella Adler-trained acting coach (or, someone who talked to someone at a party once, who they thought was Stella Adler). Dillinger's finisher is terrible.

2. Dolph Ziggler vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

ER: This wasn't really the match I was expecting them to work, but it was probably better than the match I was expecting. Ziggler actually works like a heel and it's not just a Nakamura showcase. He does get to through a bunch of knees, and instead of working a counter-heavy style they work a lot of spots where Ziggler is almost as quick to the shot, Nakamura's shot was just stronger. I never once put it past WWE to have Nak lose his debut main brand match, so the Ziggler near falls resonated huge with me. Did I really think a Zig Zag would end the match? Not totally, but again, it didn't seem unbelievable. I liked Ziggler using actual amateur things here and there, like his desperation single leg that saw Nak sprawl. I don't think people know quite what to make of Nakamura's facial selling, but I imagine it catching on big. When someone takes a superkick to the back of the head, I just don't think most are expecting someone's eyes to cross and body to curl up like they just got pogo'd by Scrooge McDuck. But this was good, thought the nearfalls worked, all the big knee strikes looked good, nice match.

3. Breezango vs. Usos

ER: Anybody griping about the brand extension can just stop. I get to see Tyler Breeze in an actual PPV title match, and no way was that ever happening pre-extension. Here he's undercover bossing as a janitor, and I for one hope he mops the floor with the Usos (*soundbite*)! And if the Nak/Ziggler match was not what I expected, then this match really was not what I expected. WWE likes to keep their bad comedy to the backstage skits, rarely working actual outright comedy matches. Indy wrestling is lousy with comedy matches, WWE pretty much just had Santino and Michael Cole overlaughing at jokes (although Santino was still getting fairly regular laughs out of me through his tenure). Not all of this comedy works, but getting over with comedy is pretty much the only chance Breezango has, and it certainly seemed like it was working. Breeze still brings painful looking bumps, and the fans seemed to buy his nearfall. His turnbuckle head tuck/superkick spot on the Usos is one of the only times I've seen that spot almost work, as he held onto the tucked head until the other one threw the kick, and the kick looked like it was aimed at Breeze. The spot with the Usos catching a Breeze dive and tossing him into the barrier was killer, with Breeze almost crushing a couple kids. Fun match.

4. Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin

ER: This match should have worked better for me, but there was something that didn't click. I think it might have been because Sami was the underdog babyface working an injury, but the match was worked with Corbin almost always fighting to come back. The announcers acted like Sami was the one fighting back, and Sami's body language acted that way, but it felt like Sami controlled 70% of this match. If he wasn't actively doing a move, he was reversing a move. So it took a genuinely impressive selling performance from Zayn, never overdone in an ohhhhhhh my baaaaaaaack kind of way, but more in the way I get up in the morning and carefully pick up a pair of socks from the floor. For all his well played back clutching, Zayn somehow just never seemed that much in danger. He would pull off a move with a bad back, but then when Corbin would counter with a slam it would get rolled up. I dunno. I thought it made Zayn look strong, but the layout didn't work for me.

5. Carmella, Tamina & Natalya vs. Becky Lynch, Charlotte & Naomi

ER: Tamina has been on the main roster for SEVEN YEARS. I'm sure I'm missing some people, but is there anybody else you can think of who's been around for 7 years and still gets a "new phone who dis?" reaction every time she comes out? Now with her new gear she just looks like a less stacked Nia Jax, like when a curvy girl loses weight but it all gets lost from weird areas. Tamina is actually wearing a more slim fit version of Viscera's old gear. That's what it is. Tamina - after seven years - still doesn't seem like she totally knows how to walk through ring ropes. Carmella yanking Lynch off the apron was a great spot, Natalya doing a stomach kick 2' away from Naomi, less so (Natalya has looked really, really awful in-ring the last couple months). My my what a poor match. It wasted so much time getting to the finish, only for the finish to feel incredibly rushed. Lynch was hardly in the match but was apparently completely worn down in seconds by Natalya's sub. Carmella was the only one who came out of this looking any better, and they've already established that Carmella has no chance of going anywhere (which is a shame, as I think they rushed her debut so badly that it ruined what could have been with her).

6. AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens

ER: Really, really good match with a couple of incredibly satisfying spots based around an injury. Styles' knee buckling on the springboard and the finish where his leg gets dropped through a vacant announce table monitor hole while setting up a Clash, were awesome, well played moments. Normally a count out finish would be a major let down, but I thought the set up throughout the match for something like this was so good that it totally worked for me. Owens smothered him nice to start, locking on snug headlocks and trying to ground Styles, and once Styles started to break out I like Owens immediately going for the fat attacks (the big senton, the bigger cannonball, and then the awesome cannonball with AJ's leg prone). The knee gets played up nicely the whole match, the announcers say really bizarre things during AJ's comebacks ("Pele kick to the face of America!" What the fuck!?), they do a couple pretty lunatic spots (that driver off the top and that apron suplex), but all that knee stuff kept this nicely grounded in meaningful reality. Clever finishes sometimes get way too clever for anybody's good, but this finish worked. Awesome stuff.

7. Luke Harper vs. Erick Rowan

ER: I should have been flipping out for this one, but maybe this whole feud just feels way too late. Harper felt like he could have broken out over a year ago, and here he is. Both guys do stuff I like, and Harper is still my boy, that back elbow out on the floor was sick...but this just felt so low stakes. This felt like a Smackdown match that gets cut away from.

8. Jinder Mahal vs. Randy Orton

ER: Well I ended up loving this one more than I thought was possible. Fewer things move my needle less than "Randy Orton main event title match", but I was sold on this match from before the bell. Orton jumps Jinder and knocks him to the floor, and Jinder takes a couple nasty bumps over the table and into the announcer chairs, and the match hasn't even officially started. And once it does it becomes somewhat clear that Jinder doesn't have great offense, but that's okay! We can work around those things. I'll give more credit for trying a nice kneedrop to the chest and not really succeeding, than trying some kind of convoluted offense. Jinder works over Orton's shoulder in engaging-enough ways, and Orton mostly commits to selling it. Things naturally pick up once the Bollywood Boys start running interference, and both of them take insanely stupid bumps on the announcers table, especially Gurv. Orton makes a long and unmistakable "ohhhhhhh shittttttt" face after he watches himself dump Gurv on his head, but he's over it by the time he's DDTing both of them. And then, Jinder improbably gets the win! I have no takes on Jinder, don't care about any of the outrages surrounding him. It's a bold move to immediately push a guy so brazenly on the gas, yes. Wrestlers are on gear. It's a thing. We know that. And Mahal doesn't seem like a great wrestler, but it's a new face in the mix, AND he at minimum knew how to work as an intense heel. That can go a long way. Orton was weirdly motivated here (which he has not been in a year), and I say they just go all the way and work a juice angle. Because right now Jinder has one of those gross 1999 WCW power plant juice bods (though truthfully needs more bloat and HGH belly), like someone who just found a stash of 20 year old anabolics and is now a title winning superstar. Make that his gimmick. Instead of Homer finding a can of Billy Beer in his fringe jacket, Jinder finds a bunch of expired juice in some BodyPUMP gear he picks up at Salvation Army. I hate giving away money like this.

Good show, wasn't expecting much of anything from the listed card. Women's tag was the only outright bad thing on the card, and that match was pretty meaningless in the grand scheme. The card was worth watching a day later, pleased with my decision.

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Boy Super Dragon was a Friend of Mine, Till I Caught Him in My Car Trying to Steal my Alpine

Super Dragon/Disco Machine v. TARO/Mr. Excitement Rev Pro 6/19/02 - GREAT

I had seen Mr. Excitement's name in results before, but I am not sure I had seen him wrestle before. His opening matwork with SD was fun stuff, with Mr. Ex doing some nice rolling kneebars and guillotine chokes. They both tag in their partners and TARO and Disco have an arm drag section with some fun flippy arm drags by TARO. They both shake hands and bask in the crowd applause and Super Dragon comes in to shake Disco's hand and offer a hand to TARO only to crack him right in the neck. We then get a long beat down section on TARO and no one beats a guy like Super Dragon, and few take the kind of beating that TARO takes. No surprise that TARO retired early, because he is hellaciously beaten every time I see him. Some of the suplexes he takes would make Misawa's ghost cringe in horror, during the final run he takes a backdrop driver straight vertical on his neck like Kobashi or Oro, and he takes four or five other really nasty fold up neck bumps on germans. TARO doesn't really have the offense to fire back in this match, although he does use his rana's really well as momentum shifters, and hits a big dive. There was a bit of a lag right before the end where, Super Dragon piledrives Mr. Excitement and then puts on a chinlock seemingly to let him get his bearings together, but otherwise this was a great all action tag with some huge violent highlights.

COMPLETE AND ACCURATE SUPER DRAGON

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Saturday, May 20, 2017

All Time MOTY List Head to Head: Onita/Goto v. Kurisu/Dragonmaster V. Rougeau Brothers v. Super Medicos

Rougeau Brothers v. Super Medicos WWC 7/7/90

PAS: This is basically the Rougeau brothers running through all of their classic heel horseshit while being pelted with a hurricane of puerto rican fan trash. Jaques does a kip up, gets pelted by greasy Wendy's bags and soda bottles. Raymond an Jaques hug and beer bottles and poop diapers rain down. Medicos had some nice punches, but this was all about the Rougeaus enraging the fans right up to the edge of violence.

ER: Yesssss I had no idea this was a thing!! I never realized the Rougeaus worked Puerto Rico, let alone still decided to work a lot of their bullshit. I have no idea where the fans even found that much throwable garbage. At one point a kid throws 8 straight items without stopping to ready them. He just had 8 things, ready to throw. The Rougeau's mere existence drives these people insane, Jacques' kip ups couldn't have been higher arcing or more obnoxious, Raymond's distractions couldn't have been more drawn out, Jacques plants a super high kneedrop onto the back of a Medico neck while Ray had him in a crab, and Jacques probably found out right afterwards just how many people in the crowd had expired A batteries. Both Rougeaus take tons of back bumps into garbage and  exchange several comforting hugs without flinching from garbage, and both of them get the fuck out of Dodge post match when a chair gets hurled into the ring. God bless this.

Verdict: 

PAS: Both matches are super heated tags, but your FMW match is also sickeningly violent, and that will take the cake every time.

ER: I love so much that this exists, and know that it's impossible that whatever payday they got made it worthwhile, no matter how good their mofungo dinner was. But the FMW tag not only had the special weirdness of this match (with every man wearing the worst possible ring gear - except for Onita), and the FMW match had unprofessional violence and the feeling of a deal gone wrong. Wonderful challenger, but champ retains.

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Friday, May 19, 2017

2014 Ongoing Match of the Year List

6. Chris Hero v. Eddie Kingston AIW 12/26/14

PAS: This is one of the great indy wrestling feuds of all time, and oddly this was the only time these two matched up during the time in between Hero's WWE stints, you would think this would be a matchup indy feds would be falling over themselves to book. This was worked very similarly to a New Japan style Shibata/Ishii stiff fest, but I enjoyed it so much more those or their US Indy dopplegangers. That was mainly due to how great Kingston is at selling and conveying hate. Early in the match he is getting pounded and responds by being furious at his body for failing him. Hero is beating him to the punch and he is mad at himself, he has some awesome KO sells too, slumping, glass eyed and defeated. Kingston is maybe my favorite ever slugfest seller, too bad he never got to work Hashimoto, Sangre Chicana or Lawler. Hero is great too as an arrogant star who has always hated this guy and desperately wants to put him down. His popping up after the suplexes was less no-selling and more determination to not let this piece of shit beat him. I really loved this, makes we want to seek out all of their earlier matches and makes me bummed that we didn't get another bunch of rounds of this before Hero went back to NXT.

ER: Strike exchanges are the most played out thing in online wrestling fandom, and this match starts with that very thing. And seeing Kingston and Hero actually express interesting character through body language and facials only illustrated how terrible everybody else is at this played out match function. It really doesn't seem that hard to add some personality or character into guys hitting each other, but seeing every single chest puffing time killing exchange would prove otherwise. Here Kingston is able to effectively show within 30 seconds that he may have bitten off more than he could chew, and the fact that it ends with him splayed on the mat after an awesome Hero tornado pump kick would back that up. Hero flat out hits harder than Kingston. That's it. Kingston has plenty of intangibles, but Hero hits harder. It never stops Kingston from hitting Hero, and the results are always great. Kingston's selling really makes this so much more. Watching Hero eat several chops, only to perfectly time a right jab to the jaw as Kingston goes foggy, or seeing Kingston slump into the ropes after Hero throws a right hand to the temple, you just know Kingston is going to keep coming forward, but his selling brings an extra level of "bless his heart" sympathy that most of these slugfests don't have. Kingston really did a great job of using the ropes as a method of support, that pride of having both your feet still planted on the mat, even if it means your butt is resting on the bottom rope. We get a great little moment of strategy with Kingston throwing weaker and weaker shots, Hero smelling blood and ramping up the strikes, so Kingston yanks the ref in the way to momentarily distract Hero, enough to headbutt him in the guy and hit a nasty Saito suplex. That suplex is what leads to the end for Hero, with Kingston landing some big fists, including a nasty backfist to the back of the dome. Great story, great match, these two never disappoint.


2014 MOTY MASTER LIST


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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Most of EVOLVE 83 4/23/17

1. Tracy Williams vs. Chris Dickinson

ER: This was no good, real disappointing. These two looked half asleep out there, had no plan, did some stuff, much of it poorly applied. Half nelson suplex forgotten a moment later? Check. Obligatory apron fight? Check. Having an epic war elbow exchange? Check (with bonus "forehead resting on opponent's chin because we're dead on our feet from warring"). The build was non-existent, the light behind the eyes was turned off, their focus seemed elsewhere. Perhaps, they were accomplishing something deeper. Perhaps, both realized that Catch Point was nearing a conclusion. Perhaps this was two partners, nearing the end of their relationship. The good times had been great. Later, long after both of you had moved on - willingly or unwillingly - you'd find an old archived email, with the two of you expressing written, verbal, courtship-like impossible love and devotion the likes of which you didn't ever remember happening. The desire to make small-but-necessary changes to appease the other, those changes both important to the longterm standing of your love and maybe also early unacknowledged cracks in the foundation of your at-the-time genuine love. Those words you were now reading seemed to be from another lifetime. The feelings were too much, making your body temp rise that you actually moved someone to feel this way about YOU, while a pit formed reminding you of all the bad times that came after. The fights were sometimes easier to remember than the beautiful, shields-down adoration the two of you had for each other. Both painful to think too long about. This match, these two partners, having this by the books argument, the kind of argument we've all had, the perfect microcosm of a failed relationship. Two people so beyond saving that they can't even get it up for their arguments any longer. Their words are meant, but the teeth are removed. Nothing can hurt them now, because - perhaps without even realizing it and DEFINITELY not ready to admit it out loud - there are no longer any stakes, and they've both begun the process of moving on.  These two have done this before, and they've done it better, and they both know they've done it better. But the listless, failed relationship ennui that they captured was breathtaking. This, the gorgeous sadness of still caring enough about someone to just be willing to go through the fucking motions with them. If they didn't care, they just wouldn't do it. But both have been hurt, and both are still hurt by the idea of hurting the other, even as they're hurting the other. Love is rare. It shouldn't be a surprise that true love ever dies, but it does. And we should celebrate that love, no matter how brief. We should celebrate that we've ever had someone that loved us enough to go through the motions with us. 10 stars.

2. Keith Lee vs. David Starr

ER: YES! This was what I wanted. Lee acted cocky without really acting too cocky, and Starr went right at him like Lee wasn't 120 lb. bigger than him. There were nice little things by both guys, and I really liked how they accurately sold shots: If a shot was supposed to hit the face but landed shoulder,  each guy sold neck and shoulder. It brought an honesty to things that helped things as it escalated. Starr hits Lee hard, throwing nasty chops and elbows, dodging a couple Lee punches and then surprising the big guy with a slap. The two lariats that follow are brutal, crashing into the side of Lee's neck. That neck takes a major beating as Lee eats a backdrop into the buckles (crazy bump) and then gets planted in gross fashion with an apron DDT. It looked like his head disappeared into mat. And after that DDT Starr just runs through Lee with another lariat, finally taking him down. But Lee is mammoth and he does not quit, and before long he remembers his size advantage, running through another lariat attempt as if he was trying to rip Starr's arm off his body, pulling off an awesome/silly/surprising/probably ill-advised rana, and flat out crushing Starr with a couple of impressive slams. Starr impressed the hell out of me here, tons of guts, real fearless, and Lee is just a physical freak. Great stuff all around.

PAS: This was pretty nifty stuff, I think Starr is kind of a goof, but facing a guy this big keeps him from falling into too much indy move trading. I could live with out ever seeing his elbow smash/chop combo again though. Both apron moves were huge and nasty, Lee absolutely murders Starr with a powerbomb on the apron, which led to Lee in control for a long time, and the apron DDT by Starr gave him a plausible run on top as well. If you are going to do crazy stuff like that it should matter. Lee is really good at selling for such a big guy, and he really makes me buy a little guy like Starr could hurt him, if only briefly.

3. Fred Yehi vs. Kyle O'Reilly

ER: This was a good showing from both, with O'Reilly attacking Yehi's arm and Yehi going after O'Reilly's knee. The knee stuff was the most compelling work in the match, some of those early knots Yehi was tying were pretty sick, really looked like a guy with dozens of ways to take apart a knee. I don't love O'Reilly doing the Catch Point grappling, as there are always too many cracks, too many moments where Yehi has to hold still waiting for O'Reilly to get to where he's supposed to be. O'Reilly makes up for some grappling clunkiness by throwing some really nasty shots, raining down on Yehi from mount, and starts trying to yank that arm off. They lose me once they start going into some strike exchange stuff, the exchange came off a little too silly for what they were going for, and for how hard they were hitting each other. We hit bottom once we got to a Scooby Doo spot where both men backed into each other, startling each other, and turned to slap the other. The spots seemed really contrived. O''Reilly also isn't good at selling nuance. Working an early bum knee was probably a mistake. He does overall much better than I expected, but when he does something like trying to run and just faceplanting because "his knee gave out", it just comes off too ham. But they win me back with some pretty nasty shots, really liked O'Reilly stubbornly holding an armbar while Yehi is realigning his jaw with knees, dug O'Reilly choking him to his knees with a standing front choke, liked the finish with a brainbuster into some nasty arm twisting. Overall I liked the match, just wish they had dropped a couple things.

4. Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Lio Rush

PAS: I really like 8/10ths of this, it was worked kind of like a 2010s version of Mysterio v. Malenko, with Sabre grounding and torturing Rush. Rush is really flexible and gets twisted into some nasty violence pretzels, he does some especially nasty things to Rush's ankles, violently wrenching them and stomping on them in weird nasty ways. Sabre was a real nasty prick in this match, which he is actually pretty good at, his contemptuous sneer is much better then his goofy babyface faces and torturing a tiny guy is a pretty mean thing to do. Finish run lost me a bit, no reason for this match to have a tough guy elbow exchange, I hate the fact that is in every indy match, and it is especially dumb here. Rush had some cool flying spots, but he could have been more explosive, I did like Sabre escaping with a roll up pin and cutting off Rush's big offensive run.

ER: I really loved Sabre in this. I didn't have a whole lot of use for Rush's offense, so I was a-ok watching Sabre bend him around in all sorts of evil ways. Rush was pretty great at getting 4 limbs pulled in different directions at once, and for that I thank him. Sabre breaks out some of his best stuff here, the octopus hold was ridiculous, the drop toe hold on left leg/ankle lock on right leg/crossface choke was sick, plenty of nasty wrist manipulation, always digging elbow points into tender muscles while locking in holds, all really great stuff. I thought the set ups for everything were really well played, a lot of stuff that could have flopped came off organic, like catching an ankle lock when Rush tried a Pele kick. I've never seen that spot (I'm sure it's happened somewhere), and it came off unexpectedly and well timed. The fighting spirit strike exchange was silly (even though I liked Sabre's shoulder shrug uppercuts) and felt just totally out of place, but the finish was killer with Sabre just locking on a tight roll up and holding the pin several seconds after the bell. Loved that.

5. I Quit: Drew Galloway vs. Matt Riddle

ER: Quite a violent spectacle, that kinda comes undone in the final few minutes. I think the match would have greatly benefitted from being a No DQ or Texas Death Match, as Drew Galloway's strategy didn't make a whole lot of sense with the I Quit stipulation. He kept going for KO offense and then making the same shocked face when Riddle would just gurgle into the mic. At one point he hits three future shock DDTs and then a 4th on a chair, and then just lies there while Riddle gurgles. You'd think with Riddle selling being barely conscious that Galloway could have just kneeled on his balls or something to get the quick "I Quit". The violence is at least big up until that point, with both guys throwing super nasty shots all match, Drew taking a suplex on the floor, Riddle getting bounced off the mat with a gorgeous snap piledriver...but then we hit a kind of goofy patch. We have a too long "Drew tying Riddle to the ropes" moment, with Riddle apparently being so beaten down that he couldn't struggle, and then Drew delivers tons of great punches to a tied up Riddle (the headlock short punches were so great they would make people forget about Nolan Ryan/Robin Venture). But then...Drew for some reason sells more than Riddle, apparently tired from beating his fists against Riddle's skull. Riddle gets untied by the ref and goes on a rampage, despite being so beaten down that he couldn't struggle against getting tied up moments earlier, and took nothing but damage since then. Drew is tired from dishing a beating, and Riddle is moving with more energy than he has all match. It all felt very dumb. Galloway ramps up the dumb by pulling out a sledgehammer (We know what that means!!!), hits Riddle in the balls with the handle, but Riddle's balls recover and he makes Drew quit with the bromission. I dunno. The violence was real and I liked the first 75% of the match (despite, again, thinking things would have been so much better with a simple No DQ stip), but they lost me pretty good by the end.

PAS: I agree that the stip hurt this match, way too much stuff with the ref holding microphones in peoples faces, it made it very hard for the match to have any pace or structure. There were some individually cool moves, I loved the snap piledriver, and the DDT's looked good, but all of it was followed by Riddle lying there while Galloway yells at the ref. The sledgehammer was too clever by half, although I really liked the final finish with the twister being so violent that it can force a submission from any point.

ER: Decent show with a couple standout matches. Lee/Starr and Sabre/Rush were good enough to land on our 2017 Ongoing MOTY List. I had higher hopes for Galloway/Riddle. The action was there, but the stip was a flop.


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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Wednesday Morning Wargames: NWA Anarchy: Team PCW v. Team Anarchy

Team Anarchy (Shadow Jackson/Bobby Moore/Stryknyn/Logan Creed ) v. Team PCW (BJ Hancock/Jon Williams/Lars Manderson/Brian Blaze/Geter) NWA Anarchy 8/22/15- FUN


This was stip laden as these indy Wargames matches tend to be, if team PCW won Stephen Platinum would win control of Anarchy (I love the indy wrestling universe where these money losing indies are so valuable multiple nefarious outfits are always trying to wrest control), if Anarchy wins Jeff G. Bailey (Babyface Jeff G. Bailey!?!) would get five minutes in the cage with Steven Platinum. Match itself was solid violent stuff without any real standout performance or huge memorable moments. Creed gave Hancock a full nelson slam off the top rope which was nasty, and Strykynyn spit a fireball which was cool. Geter is a huge fat dude, basically a black Iceberg and he was fun throwing splashes and clotheslines, there was some booking with him turning on his partners leading Anarchy to get the tap. The Bailey v. Platinum stuff was fun when they weren't doing wrestling moves on each other and just punching. Lots of horseshit and runs in there, and the match ends with Jeff G. Bailey giving a rah rah babyface speech thanking the fans, what a world. 

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

1987 Match of the Year

Yoshiaki Fujiwara v. Riki Choshu NJ 6/9/87


PAS: This is a textbook example of a simple match performed by ridiculously charismatic performers, and how great something like that can be. Hardly any wrestling moves are performed by either guy. Fujiwara does headbutts, punches and a Fujiwara arm bar. Choshu throws kicks, one back suplex, a scorpion deathlock and Choshu lariats. It isn't about what they do, it is how and when they do it. Fujiwara jumps Choshu in the aisle and just destroys him for the opening five minutes. Completely one sided the way opening falls of great lucha apuesta matches are one sided,  Choshu is bleeding and Fujiwara is smirking and strutting, Choshu finally takes some control with a back suplex, and Fujiwara has an awesome "Oh Fuck" look on his face as he goes up. It gets a little more back and forth after that, but Fujiwara still controls most of it, until he makes the mistake of getting cocky and removing the ringpad. Choshu reverses the whip, Fujiwara takes a bump, they spill to the outside, and Choshu just smashes Fujiwara's head into the ringpost. Fujiwara has a traditional comedy spot, where he no-sells getting his head smashed into the ringpost, so Choshu really has to crack open his skull to make it work. Then it is all about a repulsively bloody Fujiwara trying to survive incredible looking Choshu lariats. Both guys come off as such superstars, it was like watching Hogan v. Rock with contact actually being made on the moves. This was a Riki Choshu style match and it is a real credit to Fujiwara that he went ahead and played in Choshu's sandbox and delivered the greatest Choshu match of all time.

ER: Phil does a pretty tremendous job of covering why this is so great. It's wrestling boiled down to its barest, nothing unnecessary, no bloat, loud crowd, tons of blood, efficient. And I really love that it was Fujiwara having a Choshu match. I've gotten so used to seeing "the Fujiwara match", a type of match I've gone out of my way to see a lot over the last decade, and 6 minutes into this it hits me that I'm watching Fujiwara have the greatest "Choshu match". So naturally I hop on this post to write about it and see that Phil has come to the same conclusion hours before. And it's awesome. Choshu charges through the crowd to his propulsive entrance theme, and like a huge unexpected record skip 30 seconds in, Fujiwara is waiting to jump him on the floor, then starts headbutting away. The crowd is insanely hot for Fujiwara, and it's very important to note that this is Choshu's big match return to New Japan, having been away in All Japan the prior two years. It wasn't his first match back, but he returned earlier that week and this was his first big singles match test. I'm so used to seeing smirking old man Fujiwara that it's wonderful to go back and watch a slim, spry Fujiwara (who is just a couple years older than myself here). His facials tell a million stories and are pure wrestling joy, seeing him reverse a suplex into a Fujiwara armbar and practically scream in glee is a tremendous moment, and I love the way he crumbles on those Riki lariats. We get so used to seeing flat back bumps or rolling neck bumps on lariats, that watching Fujiwara kind of turn into it, actually acting like he's futilely trying to dodge them at the last moment, but still absorbing them. You can hear the crowd tiring themselves out wanting a Fujiwara win, and you can hear them all sounding like they took a Riki lariat after Fuji takes a second one. Great match.


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Monday, May 15, 2017

Berzerker's Tunic at the Rumble After Party Left the Crowd Speechless!

62. The Royal Rumble - 1/24/93

What a weird, sometimes fun/sometimes dreadfully boring Royal Rumble. It started out pretty awesome and almost felt like a love letter to fans of the territories, as all these different world and regional champs started off and the star power felt big. Within the first 10 we had Flair, Backlund, Dibiase, Lawler, Tenryu and Perfect. Flair and Backlund starts off, and none of the announcers talk about what a historic showdown it legitimately was. When you think of early 80s WWF champ, you think Backlund. When you think of early 80s NWA champ, you think Flair. As best I know, this is the only recorded footage of these two facing each other. There was an early 80s "title unification" match at the Omni but I don't think footage of that was ever shown on TV. So you get a fairly decent chunk of a Flair/Backlund match, later than you would have wanted it, but they work it like an actual match (as opposed to spending the time trying to left a guy's leg over the ropes). Papa Shango interrupts as the 3rd entrant but gets disposed of immediately. So we get a 4 minute Backlund/Flair match, and that's pretty neat. But within that first 10 we get a couple other cool little showdowns, like Lawler/Backlund, or Lawler/TENRYU! Gosh, the prospects of a Lawler/Tenryu singles match just makes me angry that they were even in the same ring and it didn't happen. At one point, Carlos Colon is an entrant, which just REALLY feels like they legitimately were trying to bring in a bunch of regional champs. What would Carlos Colon mean to a 1993 WWF audience (and you better believe Monsoon referred to the mid-40s Colon as a youngster)? So we get cool, historic, unexpected match ups.

We get weird stand out performances from Virgil and Brian Knobbs (among the hardest I've seen Knobbs work, if only for 3 short minutes before elimination), nice moments like Max Moon's huge spinning heel kick on Lawler in the corner (and Lawler's lowrider car show screenprinted tights!!). But then there's just so much of this match that nobody could have wanted: Long runs from Damien Demento and IRS. A bunch of tag guys (though I liked Natural Disasters going at each other), an absurdly long Jerry Sags run, Repo Man in the final 5, Koko really really trying to get High Energy's pants over (though loved the part where Koko went after Lawler; again, the match had a lot of neat nods to older territory feuds both real and dream match), just a weird layout. Big peaks and low valleys. Berzerker's run was criminally short. He got to eliminate Virgil, but he was only in for a few minutes, mostly paired with Backlund (who he had a house show run against right before the Rumble). Best elimination was easily Lawler dragging Hennig to the floor after Hennig eliminated him. Lawler takes a great elimination bump (there were several of those, actually, from unexpected guys like Knobbs and Repo Man). But once Lawler goes to the floor, Dibiase and Koko start shoving Hennig over, and Lawler begins yanking him by the head, really making it look like Hennig was desperately trying to hold on to that bottom rope. A really violent elimination. The finish run is Macho vs. Yokozuna, which was better than I remembered, but the execution of the finish is as bad as I remembered. They work a fairly long singles match, and it's good. Savage eventually hits the elbow and then goes to pin him...in the Rumble...and Yoko kicks out, sending Savage over the top to the floor. I kinda get it. The pinfall attempt used to bother me because it's the Rumble match, but I can buy that they worked together so long at the end that Savage went into singles match mode. But that elimination? One man just cannot press a man from his back, over the top rope, and make it look like anything other than a man jumping over the top rope. What a strange - and long - Rumble.

63. 15 Man Battle Royal - WWF Raw 2/15/93 (taped 2/1/93)

Man what a bummer of a final appearance in WWF for Berzerker. He's always such a presence in battle royals, but this one doesn't have much to offer him. IMPORTANT: This project gifted us with TWO Damien Demento appearances in a row. So...kewl. We get a brief Iron Mike Sharpe sighting but Backlund gets him out of the way pretty quick. High Energy have my least favorite wrestling gear of all time, but both of them take pretty great elimination bumps, with Koko taking a high backdrop from Michaels, and Owen took Berzerker's finisher to get eliminated (you know, Berzerker picked him up and just tossed him to the floor). Sadly, Berzerker vanishes from WWF not long after, as he and Kamala square off (which was a match up I had been dying to see, for the sheer goofy spectacle of it all), and Berzerker takes his final backwards bump over the top off a Kamala dropkick. Svona er lifio.

COMPLETE & ACCURATE BERZERKER


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Sunday, May 14, 2017

2016 Ongoing MOTY List: Park Familia v. Rush Familia

77. LA Park/Super Parka/ Hijo de LA Park v. Rush/Pierroth/Toscano Liga Elite 4/27

ER: This was great. It was worked at Arena Mexico, but worked as if they were playing a county fair to people who had never seen lucha before. It was great. Everybody brawls into the crowd in the primera and the crowd gets suitably riled. Park Jr. gets whooped around ringside, taking a great post bump, Pierroth walks up to the skeleton crew and throws a full beer in their face; Park and Rush are always the stars in this kind of act, they're larger than life and it's impossible to look away as they stiff the hell out of each other among the fans. Park and Jr. get run into the metal announcer nest, and soon Park disappears and comes back with a box of beer bottle empties and banks it off Rush's head. Broken glass flies onto the announcers desk. Park hits one of his huge dives onto Rush, and Park Jr. hits a huge plancha on Toscano into the front row, crashing Toscano painfully into the seats. We then settle into more county fair work, with Park working comedy chop sequences with all the rudos, starting with he and Rush chopping each other (and Rush winning the battle with nasty knife edges to the throat, but soon Park was chopping them all. The ones between he and Rush felt sinister. This felt like Super Parka's best performance since returning to Arena Mexico. He's 60, which only made those armdrags on Toscano more impressive. Rush also has a primo dickhead performance, my favorite moment being where he pins Park, but Park kicks out, rolling Rush right onto and over the referee. As they both stand up, Rush shoves the ref in the back of the head. I love how these teams match up, and any time Rush/Park are on opposite sides it's must watch.

PAS: I am not sure whether anyone in this match besides PARK and Rush was any good, but those guys are so great it really didn't matter. PARK has gotten so fat, I have no idea how his tope is still as graceful as it is, how do an obese man in his 50s fly like that. There was a great spot which Eric didn't mention in the beginning of the first fall where Rush and Toscano were using a midget as a weapon, it was sort of an awkward camera angle and it really looked like they were using a 10 year old as a bludgeon, before chucking him into the seats. This kind of Tijuana style match is still a total anomaly in Arena Mexico and it was really fun to watch someone get brained with a case of beer in the temple of Lucha Libre once again.

2016 MOTY MASTER LIST


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Saturday, May 13, 2017

2016 Ongoing MOTY List: Young Bucks v. Cobb/Riddle

18. Young Bucks v. Matt Riddle/Jeff Cobb PWG 12/16/06

PAS: Young Bucks matches have some problems baked in, you are going to get winking goofiness, some contrived spots and way too many superkicks, however both guys are big bumpers, have some nice looking offense and good timing. This was a match where the good outweighed the bad, Riddle and Cobb are a fun Steiner brother tag team, and really chucked around the Jacksons. I loved Cobb just throwing them both like sacks of wheat into a truck bed. Meanwhile the Bucks did a nice job timing their superkicks, I especially loved the superkick on Riddle's bare foot, which is a really nifty way to work a bodypart. I really should dislike the Young Bucks, but man are they in some good matches.

ER: My god I loved this. Bucks are usually a no middle ground team with me. I think I'm overall higher on them than most people, but I also recognize pretty early in a match if a particular Bucks match is going to work for me. So I love peak Bucks, and bail early on the stuff I recognize as not working. But this worked. It was like a Steiners/PG-13 match that never happened (wait did the Steiners ever face PG-13!?!? No that's impossible...unless it happened like a year ago at a Gathering of the Juggalos or something). Riddle and Cobb dominate so convincingly (tossing both around as you'd expect) that you start wondering how the Bucks will convincingly go on offense...and then Matt gets the boots up in the corner, suckers Riddle into chasing him around the ring, right into a beautiful Nick blindside superkick from the apron, and shit is ON. The rest of the match is a wonderful off the rails sprint, with unexpected double teams, neat move set ups, and tons of superkicks. People are weirdly offended by the Bucks use of superkicks, but I like it. It's an adjustment of thinking, no longer treating them as a KO blow but more as a thousand tiny cuts. I think they're effective because while they use them constantly, they use them in different ways and to different degrees. Sometimes they use them the way Lawler uses a punch, other times they're more devastating (like when Cobb is going for Tour of the Islands and takes one to the back of the head, and crumples beautifully), or when they're used specifically as a blindside cut off, or when they're used specifically to set up an opponents offense (the several times they get caught by Riddle and get used against them). They take it to the next level once they start stomping Riddle's ankle and then hold it up on a platter to superkick it. Great, great spot. They also avoid the Bucks mugging while the opponents have to sit around and sell. All Bucks mugging leads directly to Riddle/Cobb getting the momentum back: Nick mugs to the camera while punching Riddle, leading to him getting popped in the eye; both doing cocky superkicks to kneeling Cobb/Riddle leading to them getting caught in ankle locks.

This match is just a great confluence of styles, within the tag structure. From there we get unique Bucks double teams (Matt powerbombing Riddle into the corner while Nick hits an enziguiri, Matt hitting a cannonball while Nick hits a sliding shotgun kick), neat subtle taunts (Matt Jackson hitting a more vicious version of Riddle's running corner knee than Riddle hit earlier in the match), clever quirks (Matt pulling the ref towards him to hide the fact Nick is tapping to an ankle lock), big bumps, great nearfalls, and a satisfying, logical finish. I would have flipped my wig had I been there live.


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Friday, May 12, 2017

CWF Mid-Atlantic Worldwide Episode 102

Episode 102

1. Chip Day vs. Trevor Lee

PAS: This match had a lot of hype with people who watched it live calling it the Match of the Year and giving it five stars, I enjoyed their interactions a lot in the six way, and was looking forward to seeing if this lived up to the hype. I think it both lived up and didn't live up to it for me, this was an excellent match, but a very 2017 style match, and 2017 style wrestling isn't the thing I have loved about CWF.  This was long, but I felt like they kept both the audiences interest and my interest throughout. Early matwork was nifty, felt more like Lee was trying to force his shoulders on the mat, looking for pins then working a body part. I loved the gator rolls and how Lee always kept connected with Day's body. I also loved the announcers talking about the pace difference, how Lee wanted to keep it deliberate while Day wanted to speed it up, Scott and Stutts are the best around and inserting those kind of in match storylines. I also really liked how Day kept missing the early kicks with Lee really selling it like it would be a KO blow. The later stuff is where it got a bit modern for me, it seems like every match in wrestling has to do tough guy "you hit me, I hit you" sections, this was one of the better ones I have seen, the match was worked like a battle for respect and everything was sold well, but I am so sick of that spot and would have liked something more creative for the finish run. This was a match with a ton of shots to the head, and at some point these big shots lose their impact, they were treating Day's kicks like killers at the beginning of the match, but by the end he must have hit 25 of them. I loved the last two minutes, with Day laying in this huge run of offense, including stomping Lee in the back of the head, Lee firing back with a big run of his but only getting a one count, a great fast slap exchange and an awesome brainbuster into a guillotine choke. I just thing that finish run would have had a bigger impact if they hadn't had 10 minutes before that of both guys absorbing KO headshots . Still a hell of a match, and I enjoyed it way more then WWE main event or NJ main event versions of the same style.

ER: I'm kind of bad at rating matches like these, and kind of bad at talking about matches like these. It's too reductive to say "They did many things I liked, also other things I didn't like, and it went long enough that I managed to lose the narrative several times." Those things are all true, but it doesn't feel fair to these two. I really really like Trevor Lee. He was a guy I liked on the indies  but loved once I started watching weekly CWF. He carries himself like a major star and has a great almost regional star charisma. And when working this long kind of epic match, you need that kind of charisma, and a lot of guys I see working that style do not. They want to have the matches of prime Misawa, without any of the character qualities or years long build of Misawa. But Lee brings a bit of sobriety to things and it makes it better. There were so many individual moments I loved, like Day kicking Lee's legs out from the middle rope, resulting in Lee smashing his face on the buckle; or Day kicking out Lee's legs on the punt with Lee faceplanting the apron. Lee is really good at faceplanting things. I liked all the....well, I don't know if I'd call all of it matwork, but all their work around arm wringers was really cool. I've been a big fan of the Catch Point grappling resurgence of the last few years, and this standing arm wringer stuff is like a modern alternative to a grindy/grapply style. They still hit the mat a bit and I especially liked Day's big cocky build to a wrenched in surfboard, only for Lee to roll right through it into a pinfall. Where these matches can lose me is during the post-peak peak. There's always the moment about 20 minutes in where it feels like things are climaxing, one guy is on his last legs...and then things ramp back down and the guy who was just almost beat goes back to being normal for the next 10. Chip Day looked like he had Lee beat and things were getting hot, but there's that 8 minute dip where it becomes clear Day isn't winning, and we get the march to Lee's inevitable win. Lee's finish run was killer (that brainbuster!) and looked like the finish, but it seemed a little lost in the wilderness for quite awhile leading up to that. And maybe that's me, maybe I got lost and distracted, but I think a good long match always holds my interests and drags me along for the ride. This lost me at a certain point, and while it never kicked me too far away and got me back, I can't discount those moments that seemed more unnecessary. So I'll enjoy something like the Ducklings sprint from last week more, while recognizing that these two were going for something bigger. It's a hard thing for my wrestling review brain to reconcile. So these two deserve a lot of credit for what they did...but I also think they have better things ahead.

2. All-Stars vs. Sandwich Squad

ER: This wasn't bad, but felt like they were stretching out the runtime to justify it being the finals of a tournament. Everything seemed slower, some sections felt like they were repeated, and it just didn't click like other matches throughout the tournament. We got treated to a lot of short sprints from both teams, and I think this would have benefitted from being all killer no filler 8 minutes. We start out slow, but things never really felt like they ramped up. My favorite moment of the match was actually the Kernodles coming out to stiff up Gemini and the other All-Stars second. Kernodle threw a big meaty fist and it was the first time in the match I got excited (although I guess we've written up enough matches on this blog with us flipping out about Social Security eligible combatants that this isn't too surprising), but things within the match felt too set in their ways. The ending with Wilkins getting a chair taken away by the ref was odd, as Red pulled the chair away and then Wilkins just had to stand still in the middle of the ring, selling damage from...a chair being taken from him. It felt like we got several of those moments, moments of poor set-up to get to a spot that everybody involved typically find better ways to get to.

PAS: I liked this more then Eric, I really liked all of the sections with the All-Stars trying to chop down the big trees. There was a great spot where Royal keep pounding at Mecha Mercenary only to met by a huge clothesline which looked like it cleaned Royals teeth. I also really love the golf swing as a strike and Wilkins hits a bunch of times including wasting the referee with it.  I did think the finish may have had a few too many pieces of horseshit. Feels like you can have a Kernodle brother run in, or a ref bump, or a Brad Attitude run in, or a Nick Richards run in, or the ref grabbing the chair, but you really should have them all. It is like the old piece of advice about dressing well, look at yourself in the mirror and take off one accessory. The booking need to look themself in the mirror and remover one bit of business.

ER: Reading it back, and my portion of the review sounds more negative than my actual feelings watching the show. Maybe I'm a grouchy person. I don't know (but I do know I was definitely more disappointed in the Kernodle finals than Phil). BUT we both thought the Day/Lee match was good enough to land on our 2017 Ongoing MOTY List, and I'm sure they'll show up again before the year is out.

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Unicorn Gimmick Matches - No Punches Allowed

Steve Austin v. Ric Flair WWE Raw 6/3/02

ER: It's been years since I'd seen this but thought it would be a good fit as a unicorn match (there was a Lawler/Bockwinkel "Each Punch Costs $500" match, but I think it only made tape in music video form). The angle setting it up is silly and gross, with Austin wanting a match with Flair, beating up Arn (and then urinating on him with this beyond lame ecto-cooler neon green fake piss), then rushing to sign a contract with Flair (without reading it) that stipulated all kinds of things like Austin must wear a dress if he lost, be Flair's personal assistant, and most importantly - couldn't throw a punch in their match. All of these things would have made for some pretty spectacular build over a month leading to PPV. Month long build wasn't really a thing they wanted to do (which is an understatement, considering one week later was when they wanted to run the infamous Lesnar/Austin match that lead to Austin leaving and basically retiring. Sidenote, what I would give to see any of the few 2002 Austin/Eddie house show matches that happened in the last of his 2002). But we get this match as the main with one episode of build, and it's really fun. We get a lot of fun moments with Austin trying to use his primarily punched-based offense and then having to stop, forcing him to rethink his offense: He does his Thesz press, but can't punch, so just starts choking Flair on the mat; can't punch? Just throw tons of chops! And for a guy who I never remember throwing chops, Austin has some great meaty chops. Spot of the match is Austin going to punch Flair in the corner, but Lil' Naitch catching his arm, then Flair sneaking in a punch while Austin is staring bug-eyed at Robinson. Awesome moment in the middle of a super fun match.

PAS: This was basically Austin's wrestling swan song, and a really fun match. The secret to these Unicorn matches is solid use of the gimmick, and I loved how Austin kept getting frustrated by the rules and how it threw him off his game. Also Flair throwing the sneak punch when Robinson grabbed Austin's arm was a classic bit of sneaky wrestling horseshit. Austin is a formula guy, it is classic formula and it fun to see him forced out of that formula. Flair is a fucking nut bar for taking that backdrop on the floor as a regular spot into his 50's like this. Setting up a Flair/Eddie/Benoit trio with Arn as the manager vs Austin was a great wrestling what if. I don't blame him for bailing when he did, but man that feud would have been awesome.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

2017 Ongoing MOTY List: Callihan v. Kong

17. Sami Callihan v. Kongo Kong AAW 2/4/17

PAS: You don't usually see David v. Goliath matches with heel Davids. This was booked by the Philistines, with cheating ass David using all kind of tricks to avoid getting smashed. Callihan is really good at sticking and moving, all of his sticks land with real force and he avoids Kong in cool ways including Kong missing a rolling senton into a guardrail which is a nutty bump by such a big guy. The finish was also crazy with Kong taking a DVD on a chair, honestly I can't remember a superheavyweight taking a bump this nuts.

ER: I love the heel David comparison, a slimy David with bad hair loading up his sling with ill-advised topes and stupid bumps and minimal strategy. Callihan starts with a couple of boots that do nothing, and from there we go into maul mode, Kong the pursuer, throwing Sami into rails, chopping him into the crowd, eventually missing a mammoth cannonball into the guardrail. That's an insane spot for someone his size to be doing, and my god did it look awesome. Sami hits a successful dive, gets caught on another and slammed on the apron. Everybody gets slammed grossly on the apron, the Crists run out to interfere, Kong hits a sloppy fat dude dive onto everybody, then gets planted through a chair. It is indeed a crazy bump for a superheavyweight, only thing I can think of comparable would be any of the nutty suplex bumps Vader took. This was just what I wanted out of this match.


2017 MOTY MASTER LIST


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Tuesday, May 09, 2017

All Time MOTY List Head to Head 1991: Fujinami v. Vader V. Santo v. Brazo

Brazo de Oro v. El Hijo Del Santo UWA 1/13/91

ER: I wasn't expecting the primera to be such a Brazo mugging, but he destroys Santo. Santo is always great at taking a beating. He always falls around in dramatic ways and always seems like he's just trying to get to his feet, knowing right when to lean into a punch to send him another way. He's always great at showing that desperation, shooting in for a single leg that Brazo just rolls into a crucifix before continuing the beating. One glorious 10 second run has him throwing a brutal left to the body, attempt to run Santo into a ringpost, Santo blocks, then gets paid back with a straight right hand and a headbutt. They do a bunch of really engaging stuff around avoiding that ringpost, better than any "avoid the barbed wire" stuff you've seen, really treating that ringpost like death. Both guys threw violent strikes, Santo punching to the neck and Brazo headbutting away. By the start of the segunda Santo's mask is filling with blood and brother there are few things cooler in wrestling than bloody masks. Santo does on of his classic snap Santo comebacks, catching Oro with a knee, dropkicking him to the floor and hitting a huge dive. Back in Santo locks in the grossest camel clutch you've seen. And now Brazo is busted wide open from hitting the rail and he's spurting blood, and Santo is throwing huge bombs, fighting over submissions, a couple big dives, the best victory roll ever, a mean double stomp to Oro's stomach followed by his always nuts rolling senton, a great momentary Oro comeback and a beartrap rollup for the Santo win. Gorgeous match, with every little thing I love about lucha.

PAS: Man alive is Brazo a killer in this, most of the classic Brazo stuff is really great comedy wrestling, with the two older brothers working around Super Porky, but they started out as Los Mosqueteros del Diablo (The Devil's Musketeers) and the Devil was back for this match. Brazo was throwing these headbutts to Santo's neck which were just vicious stuff and he had great liver lacerating body shots.. I always love the rudo domination first fall and this was a dominating first fall. Santo's comeback was awesome too, I love how he can explode with big dives and attacks and his tope is one of the most gorgeous moves in wrestling history. That caballo to end the second fall may have been nastier then the famous one in the Dandy hair match, gross river of blood and a true chiropractic destruction. Finish run was really exciting and the finish felt like a finish.

Verdict:

ER: This match has it all and wastes no time giving it to us. Blood, brawling, drama and tremendous execution. This one takes it for me.

PAS: Fujinami v. Vader is a really fun discovery and a great brawl, but the added stakes of mascara contra cabellera and the all time legendary Brazo De Oro performance give this the nod


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Monday, May 08, 2017

2017 Ongoing MOTY List: Togo v. CHANGO

16. Dick Togo v. CHANGO GUTS World 2/21/17

PAS: Awesome all action sprint from my new favorite Puro fed GUTS WORLD BABY!! Togo is a master at working as a base for fun high flyers and this was my favorite of his unretirement run. This is a part of singles match series between feuding teams and Togo jumps him at the bell and beats his ass for a bit, including cutting off a dive by jump kicking CHANGO in the mouth. Togo is such a vicious prick in this, at one point instead of whipping CHANGO into the turnbuckle he just yanks him by the arm face first into the mat. CHANGO's offense wouldn't have been anything special against a different opponent, but Dick made him look like a killer, flying around for every armdrag and dropkick. Finish run was really exciting, with lots of rolling in and out of crossfaces, until Togo rips off a super nasty version for the tap. Great stuff GUTS World delivers again.

ER: Hot 10 minutes, felt like a Tajiri/Super Crazy TNN match. Togo mauls CHANGO for the first 3 minutes, lobbing great downward angle punches, suplexing him on the floor, smacking him with a chair, getting in the face of Guts and Kageyama, trying to yank his arm off on an Irish whip, and then goes and makes CHANGO's stuff look great when the tables turn. Togo leans into the superkicks, whips his face into the mat on CHANGO's axe kick, absorbs the flip dive nicely; The end stretch was my favorite part, with both fighting over a go behind, and the whole thing looked like a couple dogs fighting over a steak. The reversals into and out of the crossface were cool, dug the pedigree getting reversed and Togo flying back to his knees, and that final exclamation point crossface (with the necktie arm choke) was killer.


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Sunday, May 07, 2017

Unicorn Gimmick Matches - Gulf of Mexico Match

Chavo Guerrero v. CM Punk WWECW 2/5/08

PAS:This is a Gulf of Mexico match, where the only way you can win the match is to throw your opponent into the Gulf of Mexico. This was a really fun brawl with Chavo looking totally awesome, he opens the match by taking a huge bump to the floor and is great both brawling and bumping throughout. Early WWE Punk was really hit and miss, but this is one of his better matches. They brawl out into the street, a sedan slams it's breaks on only to have Punk hurled onto the hood. They also smash the windshield of a truck and Chavo scares away some guys fishing and hurls the tackle box at Punk. The current looked really strong every time they showed it, which really added to the danger of the match, this wasn't chucking someone into a swimming pool, the loser really could get swept under. Great hidden gem of a match, and a fun way to spend 10 minutes.

ER: This is a total hidden gem! I had never heard of this match before, and the stip is straight out of the silliest one off gimmicks. When Phil told me about it I thought he was confused and thinking of that Rey/Swagger match where Swagger gets rana'd into the ocean. But this was totally great. It would be pretty great for its crowd brawling alone, without the stip. They spill to the floor almost immediately, but they don't fill the time with Irish whips or walking into place, they punch each other all around, they're wearing bad jeans and shirts - the kind you save for come-as-you-are street fights and mowing the lawn - and they awesomely punch out into the street. The rental car slamming on its brakes was some terrific bullshit, but the best was yet to come as they fight over to a malecon and tease getting tossed over. Well Chavo does go over, and Punk foolishly acts like he's going to dive onto him (great camera angle showing how far he would have plunged). The best stuff is by the water though, with that fast current, Chavo trying a freaking vertical suplex right next to the water, a bunch of great moments of one trying to dunk the other, like someone's face getting forced into barbed wire, and then Chavo finally gets dropped in. The was a joyous and perfectly ridiculous 10 minutes. I need to go back to watching more WWECW.

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Saturday, May 06, 2017

2017 Ongoing MOTY List: Yehi v. Cage

27. Fred Yehi v. Brian Cage FIP 2/11

PAS: Really fun compact cat v. mouse match. Whole thing was built around Yehi using his odd angles and off kilter offense to avoid Cage, and Cage catching him and smashing him. Loved how Yehi used all of his stomps and foot smashes to pester Cage and put him off his game. I didn't buy Yehi german suplexing him, but all of the other offense made total sense. The run of Brian Cage offense was expectedly brutal, that powerbomb on the knee was really gross, and I totally bought Yehi taking advantage of the relaxed FIP rules and getting Cage tied up in the ropes with the Koji Clutch for the win. Also 12 minutes is the perfect amount of time for this match, if it had went much longer it wouldn't be plausible for Yehi to take that many big shots.

ER: This was exactly the kind of match I was hoping they would work, Yehi surprising Cage with some of his weird strikes and off balance offense, and Cage catching him with some massive slams. Things weren't worked quite as tight or mean as I've seen these two get, but that's a silly quibble ("these guys didn't put themselves in enough danger!"). Cage overpowers him through much of this, but Yehi would always come back with his stomps, or his weird way of always landing on his feet or avoiding offense (like getting knocked into the ropes, and catching the ropes, then smoothly moving to the apron in time to jam a shoulder into Cage's stomach). But once Cage starts catching him with stuff, things get nasty. Cage hits his 360 clothesline that always looks great, crushes him with a swinging uranage, then drops a couple devastating powerbombs (including one on his knee that dumped Yehi on his head). Yehi manages to tie him up in the ropes with the Koji clutch, and while I thought Yehi took a bit too much damage to pull things out, but I can buy Yehi as a guy who can lock the clutch on using muscle memory while totally brained.


2017 MOTY MASTER LIST

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Friday, May 05, 2017

2017 Ongoing MOTY List: Navarro vs. Sabre

15. Negro Navarro v. Zack Sabre Jr. Lucha Memes 4/28

PAS: I have seen Navarro work this Maestro match against a wide variety of opponents, from fellow oldsters like Solar and Panther, to indy lucha scuzz like Electroshock and Angelico, it was cool to watch him work that match against an indy fake WOS guy. I thought Navarro looked awesome, as he found interesting ways to counter all of Sabre's spots, into really painful looking twists and pulls. I also loved how when Sabre started to throw hands Navarro escalated and cracked him even harder. Finish was cool with Navarro putting on some nasty arm lock and Sabre throwing a hissy fit after getting tapped. Really showed the difference in craft between a guy like Navarro who was trained by Florintino Martinez in a garage in a slum in Mexico city, and a guy who watched a bunch Johnny Saint tapes.

ER: I saw people talking about how Sabre got tooled by Navarro here but that really seems like wishcasting, as there was nothing close to unprofessional, Sabre didn't need his hand held, it was just a bunch of fun call and response mat counters. The whole match Sabre came at Navarro with flash, and there would be that moment where it was working, and then Navarro would find some trippy way to clamp down on Sabre's leg with his leg, or trap Sabre's arm unexpectedly; I thought Sabre did a great job getting slowly more and more frustrated, as Navarro always had an answer to anything Sabre would toss out. Sabre starts finding cracks in the armor and I especially liked him making Navarro yelp by bending his wrist back in gross ways. We've seen some of these Sabre subs before and it was a blast watching Negro get out of them or twist the leverage in ways that nobody else has done.


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Thursday, May 04, 2017

Braun & Goldust's European Vacation

Goldust vs. Braun Strowman (WWE House Show 9/9/16)

Last year Goldust and Braun fought on three overseas house shows. I think this is the best of those three matches (the other two were shorter, with the same spots done in the same order). Goldust doesn't get to work singles matches on TV anymore, so usually the only time we get to see him is teaming with one of the worst wrestlers on the roster. House show Goldust is always a marvel, and while I wanted a couple more minutes out of this, it's still a great 4 minute sprint. Goldust comes hot with a yakuza kick and starts punching Braun into the corner, and fans always get so behind Dustin at house shows. He starts throwing leg kicks that he never does, then hits a nasty face wash to knock Braun to the floor, and follows up with his rolling senton off the apron. He slaps him around some more and Braun maniacally crushes him into the ringpost in gross fashion. But back in the ring Goldust goes right back to kicking him in the face, but Braun takes over with a big back elbow and avalanche and works a cravate, and Dustin knows how to work sympathy in a long hold. Every time Goldust gets a chance to fire back, he makes it count, he pulls off that style of punch so well. They hit an awkward cross up moment in the ropes, but Dustin makes up for it by absolutely blasting Braun with a lariat. Braun wins shortly after with the standing side choke. Take 4 minutes out of your day and watch the house show master at work, who knows how much more we'll get.


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Wednesday, May 03, 2017

23 Things Berzerker Should Never Apologize For

58. Berzerker vs. Mr. Perfect - Superstars 12/14/92

In which Berzerker outbumps the guy whose most widely known skill is "athletic bumping". And this is really good, even with a long Ric Flair interruption in the middle of it. We start out with some classic Berzerker criss-cross rope running, ending when Perfect hits a gorgeous and stiff dropkick that sends Berzerker flying backwards at dangerous speeds over the top to the floor. Berzerker rolls back in and throws some elbows, rope runs some more, and ends up hitting a nice high kick on Perfect. Both guys try and outbump the other, with Perfect missing a fast charge in the corner, Berzerker taking a backdrop to the floor, Perfect getting dropkicked off the apron, all awesome stuff. Flair comes out to distract Perfect for awhile (the Rumble was in just a couple weeks and we were setting up some stuff) but Berzerker and Perfect were really great at continuing to scrap while Perfect also gets separated from Flair by the refs. There's chaos between Flair and Perfect, and Berzerker is flying all around it, working spots into the match while Flair and Perfect are arguing, running into a back elbow during the melee. After Flair is gone Berzerker gets a nice near fall off the world's strongest slam, but then makes the mistake of ducking for a backdrop and getting Perfect Plex'd. After the match, for good measure, Berzerker takes another giant bump to the floor off a Perfect lariat. This whole thing was awesome, and even played in the Flair interruption really nicely.

59. Berzerker vs. Virgil - WWF UK Fan Favorites 12/15/92

Very fun match, and I should reveal that I've also secretly been loving Virgil during this project, seeing a few of his matches while watching shows for their Berzerker matches. I already knew I liked WCW era Vincent/Curly Bill WAY more than anybody else (writing numerous glowing reviews of him and defending him on the internet even!), but for some reason it never crossed my mind that I would also like WWF Virgil more than anybody else...but I think I might. He's looked really good in some of this era stuff...Would a Complete & Accurate Virgil just be WAY too much of a stretch? Is the Berzerker C&A just perfectly on the button nose of our blog, to the point where it's both acknowledged as ludicrous, while also being beloved by our dear readers? But a Virgil C&A would just be "Aren't there some other unwritten parts of the wrestling universe you could be writing about isntead? Who the fuck are you people?" But I kind of want to do it...Thoughts?

Anyway, the match is fun. Both men are treated equal, so they both take it to the other. Virgil hit a stiff clothesline, Berzerker hits a stiff clothesline. Virgil had a clothesline-heavy moveset, which is pretty cool I think. Berzerker takes a big bump to the floor for him, and they also work a super fun sunset flip spot, with Berzerker desperately holding the ropes, and Berzerker breaks out his first ever camel clutch. Virgil had a good showing here, and after awhile Berzerker got sick of that good showing, and went for his sword. Virgil won by DQ. Once the referee saw a man swinging a sword in the ring, he was like FUCK IT. I don't care if no weapon was used, there's a fucking giant man swinging a sword and that has to be illegal as fuck just on principle. Ring the bell. Ring the goddamn bell. The second I see a sword we're done. We're done.

60. Berzerker vs. Bobby Perez - 1/4/93

I had no money riding on Bobby Perez, and for that, my pocketbook thanks me. Bobby clearly did not do the extensive tape room viewing, all of the advanced scouting, that I am doing. But I appreciate Perez's gumption in trying to sneak up on Berzerker while Berzerker was taking off his vest. OH SHIT, IMPORTANT: Berzerker has a giant white fur vest now. I forgot to make note of the vest when he first started wearing it, but I believe I first saw it during that SWS trios match. It's a big, majestic white fur vest. His now-long curls and impressive beard mingle with the wooly vest fabric. And while he is removing this vest, Perez wanted to start the match. And, so, Berzerker wheeled around and pump kicked Perez right in the chest. Those steps Perez took toward Berzerker's back were the last time Perez had the advantage this match. The kick to the chest was one of Berzerker's very best, ever. Perez had no chance. He eats a flying shoulderblock, Berzerker sinks the big kneedrop, big legdrop, wins with the falling slam, pinning Perez by simply kneeling on his chest. Today, Bobby Perez works at his brother-in-law's carpet installation company, probably.

61. Berzerker vs. Bob Backlund - WWF 1/8/93

Thank you, Philadelphian with a camcorder. The idea of lugging my family's circa 1993 camcorder to a pro wrestling show sounds like an awful chore. But somebody did that, and didn't bother to stop taping during an extended bearhug segment. This cameraperson would have been a fool to do so, as bearhug spots are the best. But it's great that this match got taped in the first place. Battery life on camcorders was LOW in 1993, and I'm positive this person brought a camera to tape Flair vs. Hart and Michaels vs. Jannetty. The Flair match is listed as a 27 minute match, and the Michaels match got 13+. But this kind soul used his battery to record a Berzerker match, against an opponent who he never faced on an actual officially recorded show. I would love if someone was taping this match, and then Jannetty/Michaels right after...and then ran out of battery during the Flair/Hart match. For two decades after, tape traders would be shitting all over this person for botching the recording on Flair/Hart - two guys who think their matches against each other are awful but in reality always matched up really well. "So we don't have a Bret/Flair match, but some dude taped 10 minutes of freaking Berzerker humping Bob Backlund??!" It would be mocked on tape lists. And I love it. I love that someone out there thought to experience the utter pain in the ass that was to secretly record a live wrestling match in 1993, and specifically chose this match. Who is this person? Would I know them, if I saw them on the street? Would we understand? Would our eyes meet, and would our hearts tangle with alliteration: Berzerker. Backlund. Big Boots. Bodyslams. Bearhugs. Besties. BAE. What are these feelings? Is this real?

Match itself was wonderful and worked entirely different from other Berzerker matches. It's a great fusion of Berzerker and Backlund. Berzerklund. What a missed tag team opportunity. We start with Berzerker stalking Backlund, and Backlund sweeping at Berzerker's legs with his hand (similar to what I've seen Kerry Von Erich do), and these sweeps allow Berzerker to do a banana peel bump and then his great splits bump. This was a really smart use of the splits bump, as Backlund was directly sweeping that one leg, and coming this early in the match was unique, but was a nice way of showing that Backlund could get to the Berzerker. And here's where the match can potentially lose some people, but I was hooked: we go into a long knucklelock/test of strength spot. It's long, but I thought it was always engaging. I'm always fascinated by Backlund's strength and I weirdly got into the battle. Unexpectedly, Backlund rolls back through it and spins into a wristlock. I love it. Backlund can't go toe to toe with this guy, but he finds his ways. We also get a long, engaging bearhug. I love bearhugs. Many people don't. This match isn't for those people. But this was an awesome bearhug, and Backlund was great at milking the pain. Great faces from Backlund and I loved the moments he would rear back to punch Berzerker, only to have the hold clamped on tighter. Finish was great in that it played into both men, with Berzerker throwing him into the ropes and lifting Backlund into a bearhug, but Backlund shifting his weight and falling onto Berzerker with a makeshift Thesz press for the (quick) pin. A fun, unique match in the Berzerker canon, filmed by a mystery.

COMPLETE & ACCURATE BERZERKER



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Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Jamie Dundee Wrestled in Puerto Rico

Jamie Dundee vs. Mike Anthony (WWC 1993)

I never realized Jamie Dundee wrestled at all in Puerto Rico. Up until a week ago I just assumed "Jamie Dundee Wrestled in Puerto Rico" was an unused and poorly received A Tribe Called Quest b-side. But Jamie Dundee wrestled in Puerto Rico, and it was pretty much exactly what you would expect (though I was hoping for more flagrant race baiting and/or exaggerated ball selling). Mike Anthony is enough of an opponent, but nobody is watching this match to check out what Mike Anthony was up to in the early 90s. You want 10 minutes of Dundee calling for timeouts, threatening to quit, complaining of rattail pulls during moves that involved hands nowhere close to hair, high back body drops, nerve holds barely applied, a great punch off the middle rope, that back body drop on the grass that I could probably just base the entire review around, Anthony dropping a couple really nice legdrops on Dundee's arm, Dundee rubbing out his balls after missing a bronco buster, Dundee hitting a huge falling lariat almost all the way across the ring...obviously these are some things you want to see. I watched this in an airport. A mustachioed middle aged man across from me had a navy crewneck sweatshirt on that said "Nantucket", the same way your brain forms the image on a Yale crewneck. I couldn't help but picture Jamie wearing that same sweatshirt, paired with his spraypainted jorts.


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Monday, May 01, 2017

Unicorn Gimmick Matches - Dungeon Match

Owen Hart v. Ken Shamrock WWF 7/26/98

This is a submissions match held in Stu Hart's dungeon which is a small paneled basement. Really violent in a way I didn't remember Attitude era WWE being. Both guys spent much of this match viciously slamming each other's heads hard into wood panelling. Shamrock also had some really nasty looking grounded punches, and there were some hard throws onto a thin mat. I liked how Owen used the plumbing pipe for a hurricanrana, felt like something he developed wrestling Bruce when they were kids. They did do some of the dumb movie filming tricks I hate when the WWF did, but otherwise this was a killer five minutes. I even liked the finish with Severn getting cold cocked and then Owen drilling Shamrock in the head with a weight, and Severn being too groggy to see Owen tapping Shamrock's limp arm.

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