Segunda Caida

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

Friday, June 30, 2017

2017 Ongoing MOTY List: Raw Gauntlet

8. Nia Jax v. Bayley v. Mickie James v. Dana Brooke v. Emma v. Sasha Banks WWE RAW 6/26

ER: What a cool breakout performance from Nia Jax, her finally coming into her own as a WWE Bull Nakano, smashing skinny bitches and just plowing into them with her body. She's portrayed as a monster, but hasn't really worked monster until now. There have been flashes, but this was a burst of light. People will complain about how their personal favorites were treated (Bayley lost first, Emma only lasted as long as Dana Brooke, Dana Brooke got...okay, nobody will complain about Dana Brooke's treatment) but this was Nia's show. I really liked her segment with Bayley and Bayley worked smart around her, loved her going after Nia's leg, loved the way Nia established herself as the bully, she even used a bearhug which is just the ultimate irony, the one time Bayley might be opposed to hugs (well, that, and the myriad weird dudes that have now been asking her for hugs for a couple years now). The next few women are non-factors, Nia awesomely shoves Brooke mid-handspring, drops big legdrops, and just literally crashes into them. She has to have been watching Vader or Aja Kong tapes, just running full body into these wimpy women and smashing them to the mat. And it all builds to a showdown with Sasha, and it's freaking awesome. Sasha keeps getting bulldozed, thrown to the floor, chucked recklessly, caught on dives, just wrecked. But Sasha kept chipping and was a flat out awesome underdog, while Nia was a flat out awesome vulnerable monster. Sasha's sly comebacks were great, and those two Banks Statement variations had me flipping out: The standing one off a headscissors and the eventual match finishing one were brutal. That last 30 seconds were great, Nia sold the weight of the entire half hour getting choked out of her, and Sasha's grit was great. Tremendous performance from both, possibly my favorite 10 minutes from any WWE women's match.

PAS: I thought all of the early rounds of this gauntlet were perfectly acceptable televised wrestling business, Nia Jax looked great, beasting her way through Bayley and some other women I had barley  heard of (Mickie James is back? I like her new look, she looks like Weeds era Elizabeth Perkins), still no way this makes a list except for the excellent final fall. Sasha v. Nia was sort of a distaff Morishima v. Danielson. Sasha gets totally tossed around, including taking a fucking nutso bump to the floor, Nia keeps catching her dives, blasting her with big shots. Finish was epic, loved Sasha throwing the Bank statements out of nowhere, the headscissors Bank statement looked like something 90s Rey Jr. would throw out, and the standing one felt like a Negro Navarro hold. Cool stuff closing out a pretty great episode of RAW.


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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Lucha Worth Watching: CMLL 6/16/17

1. Rush/Kraneo/Pierroth vs. Terrible/Vangellys/Shocker (CMLL 6/16/17)

ER: Not a great match, but one I was looking forward to and one that delivered what I wanted it to. Vangellys attacked Pierroth with some great bat shots last week and here's the payback, hopefully building to a hair match. The rudo team is a great pairing, one that's been fairly regular in 2017. They all complement each other really well in this kind of bullshit brawl. It's the kind of match Pierroth excels in, it brings out the best asshole qualities in Rush, and Kraneo...well, Kraneo is just always awesome. I really like all the Rush familia ringside brawl stuff, it's great junkfood, guys getting slammed into the announcer corral, guys getting thrown into barriers, balls are almost kicked, big chops are thrown, anabolics are flowing through Los Toros Blancos, complex carbohydrates are flowing through Kraneo, Shocker is wearing headgear to clamp down on his constant snacking, Terrible throws a beautiful left hand, the rudos juggle an imaginary soccer ball around with Kraneo getting extra ball handling time, Pierroth splats Vangellys with a great senton, balls actually get kicked, it's all great fun.

2. Dragon Lee vs. Barbaro Cavernario (CMLL 6/16/17)

ER: A different kind of junkfood, rewarding in different ways, annoying in different ways. I have little interest in the newer trend of luchadors working faux New Japan style. I hate seeing brainless emotionless forearm exchanges when lucha standing exchanges usually have so much passion and eye contact with the crowd. But these guys are crazy and we get a suitably crazy lightning match. Lee hits a couple nice dives including a bullet tope that just glues Cavernario to the barricade, and Cavernario hits a flat out gorgeous dive from the apron past the turnbuckles. I lose a lot of interest once we go into the "look what moves we can do that are dangerous but don't hurt that much because we can still do a lot of moves afterward" portion, but the blockbuster DDT is pretty damn notable just because it turns Lee into a literal exclamation point. These guys both work matches that have more meat to them, this was 9 minutes of expected flash between two guys who could sleepwalk through some exciting spots. They know how to work some exciting spots, and exciting spots was what we gots. They just tend to excite me more when they mean something.

3. Ultimo Guerrero/Sanson vs. Caristico/Soberano Jr. (CMLL 6/16/17)

ER: A fitting finale to the Gran Alternativa tourney, and a nice job by CMLL for actually pushing a new guy who has made some strides. Soberano Jr. has been kicking around for awhile, and was showing promise as early as 2014, and he's obviously been busting his butt in 2017. I flipped my lid for his Dick Fosbury dive to the floor, that takes some stones and looked gorgeous, and he has a great step up headscissors. I think Sanson worked expertly as a Caristico base, catching a dozen armdrags and headscissors that all looked fluid, and the flip dive catch was pillow soft. Caristico himself appeared to be working harder than I've seen him, maybe since his return, bumping big on UG's baseball slide dropkick, tossing out his largest assortment of ranas and headscissors (his slingshot one to the floor still the best) and also hanging in there to take UG's hip attack that sends him sprawling down an aisle. Sanson and Soberano got a chance to shine and outside of a hinky Soberano lariat I thought they looked good. I hope Sanson still stays with Cuatrero/Forastero, but this was a nice bigger match foray for him, overall very satisfying.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Anarchy Wrestling: End of Days 5/27/17

Cyrus the Destroyer v. Gunner Miller

This match was set up by Gladiator Jerimaih challenging Gunner and Team TAG to a war games match, and announcing Cyrus as his first team member. Cyrus is a big boy, looks like a young King Kong Bundy. Not much of a match, a couple of minutes before a run in, but I did enjoy Miller deadlift German suplexing Cyrus, really felt like a feat of strength. Very excited about War Games of course.

Nightmare Kyle Matthews v. Ryan Vega

I really enjoyed this, Matthews breaking out his awesome Steve Armstrong offense, which mixed nicely with Ryan Vega's 2010s indy shtick. Vega breaks out some big spots including a nifty top rope jawbreaker and a nasty death valley driver. Meanwhile Matthews is throwing out pin point dropkicks and indian death locks. Continue to love Matthews finishing folks off with a nasty octopus hold. The Nightmare continues to be a highlight of these shows.

Billy Buck v. Jeremy Foster

Really good old school style match, with Billy Buck being an impressive regional heel. Good spinebuster, nice punch, good bumping, quality stuff. Foster didn't really do anything to make himself stand out but everything he did looked good. I actually think they may have had a bit of overkill in 80s finishes. Foster pushes off a sleeper and rolls up Buck, Bucks partner distracts the ref and Foster gets cheap shotted, they ran through a dozen ways that would finish a Prime Time Wrestling match in 1987 and it almost felt like a PWG match burning through headrop suplex two counts. Still I really enjoyed this and I am all in on Buck

Rave Approved v. The Lynch Mob

This was a pull apart brawl rather then a standard match. It was a pretty energetic pull apart brawl, lots of guys jumping into punches. This set up a taped fist street fight for Hostile Environment which I am excited to see.

Team TAG v. The Beautiful Bald Besties

Team TAG had some amusing heel stooging in this, not exactly Midnight Express, but a fine Southern Rockers. This was a little short to get much of a sense of the Besties. Would be into to seeing this match get a little time

Drew Adler v. Stryknyn

Another match which was more to set up stuff in the future. Stryknyn had some nice energy early, I dig his mosh pit dancing as wrestling offense. Adler had some really nice stomps, but otherwise I didn't get a huge sense of him (saying that a lot on this show), Dany Only drills Adler with a motorcycle helmet for Stryknyn, to get the pin. This leads to Ashworth and Only getting into it to set up a match on the next show.

Devil's Rejects (Tank/Iceberg) v. Devil's Rejects(Seven/Brad Cash)

Really fun big boy brawl for the rights to the name Devil's Rejects. Seven really throws ham hocks and I especially liked him and Iceberg exchanging. We get a double count out, and Dan Wilson (who is no longer Rev. Dan, but is now the match maker) restarts the match with Rejects Rules. There are some nasty chair shots, and Seven takes a huge bump getting back suplexed through two chairs. Finish had Tank pounding Cash on the ground until the ref stopped the match. Some of the shots looked really good, and some didn't, it is a hard finish to pull off, I think they mostly did, but I was expecting something big, and this finish was clearly setting up Tank v. Cash, and the huge violence is clearly being saved for that.

This was paced more like a RAW leading up to a PPV then a big show on its own. Still they totally did their job of selling me on the big show, and Anarchy has a bunch of fun guys that I am eager to keep following

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

2017 Ongoing MOTY List: Ki v. Abyss

21. Low-Ki v. Abyss AAW 6/17

PAS: This is about as good an Abyss match as you are going to have. Ki bumps huge for all of Abyss's spots, kicks the big guy pretty hard and they have a bunch of amusing horseshit, plus where are in and out in under 7 minutes. Abyss is the hired gun of the Killer Cult faction in AAW and cost Ki the AAW title in our reigning match of the year. Here the story of the match is the manager paying for his sins. First Ki just wipes him out with a diving through the ropes dropkick. Then they have a fun finish with Ki hurling a handful of thumbtacks into Abyss's eyes, the blinded Abyss chokeslams his manager into the tacks and gets rolled up for the pin. Kind of a waste of Ki (so many more intriguing matchups with the talent booked on the show) but I dug it.

ER: Yeah Abyss is one of the true, honest to goodness terrible wrestlers out there. This right here is definitely the best you can hope for from him, and it was really fun. He stayed away from his always terrible strikes (the ones that are in a permanent competition with Makabe to see who can throw them farther over an opponent's head) and focused on just using his size to smother Ki. I have a weird fascination with seeing my absolute favorite wrestlers wrestle the worst opponent, sometimes moreso than them against an actual good wrestler. It's neat seeing what Finlay can do with Boogeyman (or Davey Richards, a previous AAW match), seeing Lawler or Funk against anybody, seeing Necro Butcher against anybody, it lets them thrive in different ways. There are a dozen people on this card who are indisputably better wrestlers than Abyss, but I'll always be more interested in seeing Low-Ki against a barely mobile blob than against obviously better guys like ACH or Jake Crist. But this match was totally great. Ki stuck and move, brought some great elbow strikes, Abyss smashed him in the corners a couple times, and it had some of the best manager interference you've seen. JT Davidson hit a killer elbow on Ki while he was prone on the apron and later attacking Ki on the floor and violently throwing him back in the ring. The fans hated Abyss, which is great, and Ki played into it perfectly. Davidson got out a bag of thumbtacks and they tease some stuff around them, like Davidson pushing Ki off the top into them, but Ki adjusting his fall and landing awkwardly past them. Ki kicks Abyss around and completely obliterates Davidson with a baseball slide dropkick, totally killer spot. Ki is really good at finding ways to fit his spots in, like Abyss sending him into the buckles, Ki jumping to the middle rope and hitting his double stomp. Eventually we get Ki throwing thumbtacks in Abyss' eyes which leads to Abyss chokeslamming Davidson into the tacks. Normally those kind of blinded, friendly fire spots are silly because how often does your ally feel like your opponent, but here it works pretty terrific as Ki and Davidson are the only ones wearing their suits and dress shirts. Low-Ki is the best worker of 2017, and matches like this are just layers of tasty icing on that cake.


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Monday, June 26, 2017

2017 Ongoing MOTY List: Kingston v. Cobb

31. Jeff Cobb v. Eddie Kingston AAW 6/17

PAS: Pretty simple story based match, Kingston is the old broken down war horse coming in against a young monster (although Cobb is 34 and Kingston is 35, wrestling is fiction). Kingston has a bad neck and the worst thing you can do with a bad neck is face a beast like Cobb. Kingston is one of the best sellers in wrestling history, so a match built around him selling paralysis is going to work great. Kingston is so great at gutting through pain, as he would refuse to back down even as he was getting more and more damaged. Finish seemed a little abrupt, Kingston has a great backfist, but it feels like it should take a bigger shot to drop Cobb. Still great performance by Eddie, and if he is really winding down his career, he will be missed.

ER: Kingston is probably the best salesman in modern wrestling and I love matches where he's playing the survivor, the guy who is just enduring punishment but has a lot of big shots and a lot of pride. Kingston's neck is in bad shape and he's facing a guy who is an expert at hurting necks. They don't drag this out, this is a quick fight with immediate consequences. Kingston's backfists and elbows land as hard as I've ever seen them land, smashing into Cobb's concrete block skull, and when Cobb finally grabs hold of him it's a huge moment. King tries to get heavy, but Cobb drags him slowly up and over. King sells these germans pretty masterfully, skillfully selling his neck, arm, back and leg all at once, getting over that tingling that comes with a stinger. I was disappointed with the finish as it felt like they got a sudden call to go home, and it felt like Cobb went down too easy. I did like Kingston's hubris leading him to pull off a suplex on the suplex him, but I would have loved another Act to the story, another wrinkle like Kingston hitting that suplex but then further damaging his back. It felt like we are missing the third reel to a great match, but those first two reels are damn entertaining wrestling.


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Sunday, June 25, 2017

2017 Ongoing MOTY List: Shibata, Okada, Brain Trauma

7. Katsuyori Shibata v. Kazuchika Okada NJPW 4/9

ER: Yes, this is the infamous likely/hopefully last match of Shibata's career, as he's a super tough man who coconut clonks other tough men in the head as hard as possible, and because of that almost became a vegetable. But overall I thought it was his greatest career performance, at times masterful, and we also got the best Okada performance I've seen. Were there still problems? Yes, but the peaks far outweighed and made for some pretty great moments. Shibata works this like he's the Terminator, and Okada makes for a game Sarah Connor. Every strike Okada would throw at him, Shibata would emotionlessly brush it off as Okada's eyes would widen in disbelief. We start with some fun and engaging matwork, with Shibata almost always a step ahead but not wanting to finish, worked as if he just wanted Okada to realize how he could snap him if he wanted to. Shibata looks like he's hardly breathing and Okada looks like he's barely hanging on, Shibata easily maneuvering into chokes and an armbar, and later working over Okada's knee. I've been a consistent critic of Okada's convenient selling and poor placement of damaging moves, but I thought his selling was good here. There were still moments where he had to get his shit in, but even on his omnipresent dropkicks it's not like he would be hopping up afterwards, usually he would act like he immediately regretted doing a dropkick, and as the match wore on he wasn't able to throw out moves at full strength, allowing Shibata to stay standing through a couple of rainmakers lariats. I wish he hadn't done a pop up dropkick after the devastating sleeper suplex spot. I'm so over the pop up fighting spirit, and that suplex was such a colossal spot, Shibata choking the life out of him and then tossing his body away like trash. It should have been a bigger moment.

Shibata's attitude carried the bulk of this match. He wasn't just going along and having an Okada match, his smug attitude made all rote strike exchanges feel different, getting inside Okada's head by showing him how much more effective his strikes were. I have no clue how Okada's face and neck weren't bruised and swollen by the end. Shibata was great throwing out these condescending punts, not going for the kill, but swatting at Okada's spine, smacking him in the back of the head with a boot, just picking away at him in painfully annoying fashion. The headbutt is what it is. It's no grosser than any clonking headbutt you've seen Ikeda or Kikuchi throw, but it is admittedly troubling knowing what we know happened to Shibata post match. If you found out several tape submitters died of testicular cancer from ball shots, you probably would have laughed a little less at those episodes of America's Funniest Home Videos. The headbutt is gross, made somewhat better by Shibata finishing the final 5 minutes of the match, locking on sick octopus holds on Okada, but never able to put him away. I do think they had Okada take a bit too much damage, as it didn't seem like Shibata took enough to go down for the count (if we only knew how badly damaged his body was...), but I liked how Okada was able to convey his fading strength through his weakening rainmakers, and I think this is the best conceived version of a "main event New Japan style" match that I have seen. Shame about the effects of that style, though.

PAS: I was actively irritated at Eric for making me watch this, I have no desire to watch New Japan main event wrestling, and as someone who played high school football, college rugby and boxed in the golden gloves I am a little squeamish about brain injury (I am sure my brain scan looks like a bunch of old hot dog buns). Still I enjoyed this and Shibata sure went out on a hell of performance. Really dominant Shibata match which forced Okada to work from the bottom, which is where someone of his questionable offense belongs. Shibata also works better as a merciless killer, then as a guy doing 50/50 forearm exchanges. I loved Shibata tooling him on the mat, breaking out shootstyle submissions, and even British stuff from his Progress tours. This forces Okada to be the first guy to throw hands, and man does Okada get tooled. I loved the part where Shibata throws thirty or so short punches right to the jaw, and the kicks to the brain stem were grotesque. That headbutt was actually a great bit of wrestling drama, although man it is hard to watch with hindsight. I did like how Okada stepped it up with his shots, his forearms looked mostly good and that final rainmaker is the first time I have actually liked that move. I hated the no sell, and Okada's elbow drop is more CM Punk then Macho Man, but this was still about as much as I am going to like a 2017 Okada match.


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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Lucha Worth Watching: Fresh Casas Match-Ups! Tournament Lucha?

1. Negro Casas/Canelo Casas vs. Valiente/Astral (CMLL 6/9/17)

ER: Leave it to Casas to make a 1st round tournament lucha match something approaching meaningful. It's 5 minutes but plenty enjoyable, with Valiente breaking out weird World of Sport matwork that he doesn't normally break out, and Astral getting a big chance to shine against normal sized people, while Casas has a long showdown with the former/current mini. This is the first time Casas and Astral have ever had reason to be in the same match, and fresh match-ups/new allegiances are the one saving grace of tournament lucha. Casas hypes it up all match and make it feel like a huge deal that he's going toe to toe with this kid who's half his age. He stooges around for him, keeps pace, and gives Astral moments to shine. Astral makes the most of it, hits a wild double jump tornillo, Casas set him up to look like a big deal and he did. Canelo isn't great but he spends his segments dedicated to being a rudo instead of shoehorning highspots, and I appreciate that. Tournament lucha should be a little more like this.

2. Negro Casas/Canelo Casas vs. Caristico/Soberano Jr. (CMLL 6/9/17)

ER: Another fresh Casas match, as Soberano has been lingering in the undercard for a few years, prior to his 2017 push up the cards. At his best he's shown to be a bump freak with some cool movement, at his worst he's a bad Volador clone. But he's never squared off with Casas (they were in a decent Cibernetico in 2014), and that's obviously the money combo here. Casas is great throughout, and I loved his stiff body/timberrrr selling of Caristico's superkick, loved his stiff forearms and lariat on Soberano (and Soberano lands some nice kicks to the chest later). Casas brought interesting character to strike exchanges, we build to a fun moment of Casas snapping off a nice 57 yr. old rana, but Soberano cartwheels out of it and hits his nice long-legged version. The home stretch was really wonderful: Soberano finding multiple ways out of La Casita, with Casas getting more and more desperate as he became more obsessed with beating him. Casas starts with a simple drop toehold to lead to La Casita, but Soberano yanks his arm out, so Casas dropkicks his knee to get him back into position but Soberano shoves him away, back off the ropes and Casas dropkicks him to the knee again, but Soberano rolls through to his own pin! Generous performance from Casas here, truly the theme of the day.

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Friday, June 23, 2017

2017 MOTY LIst: Togo v. Sasaki Ultimate Submissions

14. Dick Togo v. Daisuke Sasaki DDT 4/14

PAS: This was a 30 minute submissions iron man, and was a real chance for Dick Togo to stretch it out. Sasaki isn't a guy with a ton of stand out attributes, but he is a solid guy all around and fits nicely around an ambitious Dick Togo match. This reminded me of the Togo retirement match run, where he would take a guy take everything he can do and build a classic around it. I don't normally think of Togo as a mat guy, but did some especially slick counter wrestling, especially grabbing at crossfaces and chokes. Togo gets an early lead until Sasaki goes after the knee, and the rest of the match is Togo trying to fight off an aggressive Sasaki with a bad wheel. Loved Togo's selling here especially how a his bad knee kept him from hitting his senton on the first try. I don't love draws in wrestling, but both guys got reasonable near falls off of scrambles. Overall great stuff and I am so glad to see Togo back at this level.

ER: This is an interesting premise that can make things difficult for traditional wrestling psychology. In a traditional wrestling match you tap out when you can't take any more punishment and you lose the match. Your limb or breathing gets pushed past the point of comfort, past your pain threshold, and you give up. In this match, if you get pushed past that same still have to continue working a match. So it's a weird concept, and you'd think the psychology in this match would be to tap early in a submission, when you know you're in trouble but before big damage has been done. It's better to go down 0-1 than severely weaken a limb to leave it susceptible to more tapouts. So it bugged me out of the gate when Sasaki let his arm get completely worked over before tapping out, twice. What bugged me even more was after he went down 0-2 because of his wing...we never saw a whisper of arm trouble for the rest of the match. Togo stayed away from the arm - the same arm that got him up 2-0 - until the final 4 seconds of the match. Sasaki just acts like those two tap outs never happened and never even gives a hint of the screaming pain he was in when tapping out both times. It infuriates me the more I think about it. The final 20 minutes is worked as if the prior 10 minutes never happened, and it's easier to just pretend that first 1/3 didn't happen.

Because Sasaki taking apart Togo's leg was a blast, and Togo's selling was sympathetic and satisfying. Sasaki breaks out some of his best stuff, including a killer middle rope elbow drop to Togo's leg (later doing the same in the crowd off one of the seating tiers). The leg injury is compelling stuff, and I loved Sasaki playing dirty, knocking the ref into Togo on the buckles, sending Togo bumping nasty to the ropes to the apron and to the floor. I'm with Phil in that I don't really think of Togo as a mat guy, but his mat stuff here was killer. I could watch him roll into crossfaces all damn day, and his cannonball dive through the ropes is easily one of the best spots in wrestling. The draw finish was disappointing and I think the placement of the tapouts was poorly planned, but the work itself was excellent. Still, those psychology issues and at times total disregard for the actual match stipulations is going to keep this from the top tier MOTY level.



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Thursday, June 22, 2017


Tarzan Goto/Ryo Miyake vs. Shinichi Nakano/Masayoshi Motegi WDF 7/16/1997

PAS: What a sleaze soaked pleasure this match was, the wrestling equivalent of eating a giant roadhouse bacon cheeseburger. Goto is a treasure in this, I can't believe I ever used to diss this dude. He basically works this as a fat grotesque Tenryu as he beats the bricks off of Motegi with chair edges, meaty punches right to the nose and thick headbuts. Motegi bleeds a ton and was pretty great as a fired up babyface, by far the best I have seen him look. Nakano and Miyake were really fun as the secondary dudes too, they would tag in and slap the shit out of who ever was in the ring. I really miss this kind of dirtbag Puro indy, now all Japanese indies seem to be about telling jokes, there was nothing funny about this match at all. 

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Matt & Eric, Two Men Discussing Virus, Separately

2017-03-25 @ Arena Coliseo San Ramón, Puebla, Puebla
Virus vs. Prayer

MD: This dropped a few days ago even though it's from a Lucha Memes show back in March. I couldn't tell you the first thing about Prayer, but Virus was, of course, my #10 on the GWE poll last year, which felt crazy at the time and still feels crazy, but was very much a testament to the power of footage (we've got him almost weekly for the last many years, even if he's just in low card trios). I'll say this: after watching this match, I feel all the more validated with the placement.

We're lucky to have as many maestros matches as we do. In those, what they do is so logical and so intricate and so interesting and (probably most importantly) so full of struggle and commitment, that we forgive the half speed nature of so many of them. We see it as part of the fight, that locking a hold on to someone as expert as Blue Panther or Negro Navarro just takes that much more pressure and effort. It takes longer. In some ways, it's a testament that they can go that much more slowly but still make none of it seem collaborative, like playing a song very slowly and thus having to perfect each and every belabored note. 

This was not that at all. For the first two thirds of the match, they were primarily on the mat. There was struggle. There were intricate leverage moves. There were counters and escapes. It was done at far faster pace, was utterly believable, and didn't miss a beat. They were able to portray that same level of mastery but turned up about three gears. So much of this was Virus. You watch him and you wonder just how he sees the world, if time slows down and he can extrapolate out the ways limbs might twist and contort like an sculptor envisioning a masterpiece or a chess champion looking forward six moves. Prayer kept up well enough; he had to do his part, for Virus just manipulating him wouldn't have allowed for this level of speed or sharpness. Ultimately, though, this was a showcase for El Pequeño Gran Maestro, and since he no longer gets as many singles matches in CMLL as he did a few years ago, it's one we're lucky to have.

A few words about the escalation in the match, too. When they went to spots towards the end of the match, none of them were too excessive. None of them needed to be. Staying on the mat (even while increasing the level of peril) meant that a springboard low dropkick could mean as much as a headdrop or a giant dive. It created believable near-falls when that might not work at all with a less disciplined match. Just the testament of someone who really understands how to imbue meaning into his craft. 

I'm glad Virus is still getting opportunities to have matches like this, even if only on the indies, and I'm glad this dropped, even if it dropped a few months after the fact. Check it out.

ER: Virus has to be the king of noteworthy performances in throwaway undercard matches. This falls apart a bit in the segunda/tercera, and Skandalo kind of stumbles around and gets in the way through much of this, Sagrado is really quite good as a rudo so I enjoyed all of his moments (his rudo offense is really great, especially that sunset flip counter, a double stomp into a few elbowdrops, hell yes)...but this was all about Virus. The Virus/Esfinge mat stuff that opens the match is really cool, subtly flashy, all of it compelling; but him picking on Soberano is the money of the match, as they work some fast sequences that end with Virus hitting a stiff shoulderblock that sends Soberano bumping backwards and upside down to the floor, then we cut to Sagrado clotheslining Esfinge's shins out from him on the apron, and then back across the ring to catch Virus hitting the mother of all baseball slide dropkicks on a just-waking-up-on-the-floor Soberano. We get another fun Virus/Soberano segment in the tercera, but it's a shame the rest of the match couldn't hold up the level of the primera. But a match with a floor of "So how good is Virus, right?" is still something with value.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Nothing Can Stop Ki, He's All the Way Up

Low-Ki v. Penta El 0M Tier 1 Wrestling 6/11/17 - FUN

PAS: Penta 0M is an interesting case, he looks cool, has a ton of charisma, but I am always slightly disappointed by his indy dream matches (still think his best match is that Vampiro LU brawl). I always wish it was LA Park. Low-Ki however does not disappoint, and is just killing it in the last couple of years. Here he comes out in the Hitman outfit and wrestles this match with holstered guns. Pretty much a 12 minute moves exhibition, but luckily Ki has some moves, he still is cat quick and gets great height on his dropkicks and double stomps. There was also a great spot where he leaps recklessly into a superkick that looked like it broke his larynx, totally crazy stuff. There were a few too many flippy piledrivers for my taste, but I did love the finish, Ki's double stomp is Togo Senton level beautiful now, and he crushes Penta with it.

ER: Lucha Underground Season 1 : Pentagon :: ECW : Taz. This dude has been exposed for a year + now, but he had me going all the way. He's a guy I could see putting at 25 on the 2015 SC500, and then the next year we go "what the fuck is wrong with us!?" and have him at 430. His Chi Chi Rodriguez fist pump "Woo!" is one of the lamer things done by a supposed wrestling badass. I've heard some people make fun of Ki in the suit, which is silly to me as I think the suit and gloves and wild offense looks awesome, but I gotta say the double holster looks even more awesome. That is a cool fucking look. He looks like a henchman in No More Heroes. The match devolves pretty quickly into move trading, and PentaGroonXXX's strikes are sorely lacking the LU gunshot sound effects, but he still leans into all of Ki's craziest stuff. One of my favorite things in wrestling is watching Ki recoil after delivering offense. He'll get crazy height on a dropkick or double stomp, and then go banging across the ring like a cueball slamming into the 8 ball. Him flying bent legged into a thrust kick looked great, but I'm getting sick of Penta and his Adam Cole offense. Still, it's Ki, it's gonna be worth watching.


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Monday, June 19, 2017

CWF Mid-Atlantic Wrestling's Superstars of Worldwide Episode 106

Episode 106

1. Dr. Daniel C. Rockingham/Ethan Alexander Sharpe vs. Dirty Daddy/Rob McBride

ER: We talked about the deep talent roster last week but goddamn EAS has been on half the shows we've reviewed. I need more CW, more Xsiris, more Attitude, less 10 minute EAS matches. McBride is a guy I haven't seen in ages and his is a shtick I can sit back and enjoy: no bumps, meaty chops, an eye rake, full weight elbow drop, yes please. I really dug the few minutes where Sharpe and Doc worked over Daddy's knee, the shots to the hammy were rough and I liked Sharpe's mule kick to it. It didn't really go anywhere, and Daddy's comeback didn't look great, but I liked the hot tag, and Sharpe/Doc were game to stooge around, so this was fine.

PAS: I really think Dirty Daddy is good, just a natural babyface with awesome timing, and I could imagine I would like the team with McBride more against a better squad. I could also live with a break from Sharpe matches, especially if he isn't with White Mike or getting beaten by SIS.

ER: Hadn't thought of that Juicy Fruit commercial in years and it's crazy how I remember all of it. There are so many important things that I don't remember anymore. There are actual friends from school - friends who I have fond memories of - whose names I don't remember. But the second I saw that dude stepping into his skis I remembered every word of a Juicy Fruit jingle.

2. Donnie Dollars vs. Kool Jay

ER: Ummmm...holy shit. Did anybody see the same finish that I saw? Everybody acted totally normal, but Jay got his fucking dome press slammed hard right into the mat. He got whipped into the mat at an insanely dangerous speed, at an insanely dangerous angle, and people acted like it was a pretty normal finish. The match was a really fun squash, thought Jay's step up enziguiri and running elbow looked great, Dollars had some mean offense. But good lord that finisher. When you take something more painfully than the worst Darby Allin bumps, I'm not sure that's a threshold we need to further cross.

PAS: Holy shit that finish needs to be gif'ed right now. Feel like it should be a meme, every time Sean Spicer says something dumb they should show Dollars press chokeslamming Kool Jay. Man Jay is great as a bumper, that kid has a future if he has a future.

ER: I had no clue there was a Muppet Babies Live. I know my folks took me to Sesame Street Live, but Muppet Babies Live seems like something they actively hid from me to save themselves from having to attend. I'm sure if that commercial had come on they would have leapt in front of the TV to distract me, like Peggy Hill not letting Bobby find out that competitive eating is an actual thing. Man I loved Muppet Babies. And the Von Erich Pizza Inn commercial is a stone cold classic.

3. Keith Mac vs. Joshua Cutshall

ER: Cutshall does unhinged nutcase really well, he looks like Reverend Smith from Deadwood and has good size and presence. Mac dances around a bunch and Cutshall starts dancing with him and  just as I was thinking "Man I wish Cutshall would punch him in the face", Cutshall unloads this pin straight right hand right to Mac's chin. Sold. Wrestler of the year. Mac hit a nice pancake slam (which might be the first actual piece of offense I've seen from him), and while I thought the straightjacket set-up was a bit much on the finish, Cutshall really cracked him with that elbow. I like that we've established his elbow as a killshot.

PAS: I enjoyed this when Mac was dancing around and Cutshall was killing him for it, but I think it fell apart a bit when Keith Mac tried to do some wrestling moves. Cutshall is one of my favorite CWA guys to watch, and I would like them find something to do with him.

ER: Very excited for Cecil Scott vs. Cain Justice and I really dug Cecil's promo, guaranteeing Cain that he might not be going into the match at 100%, but Cain wouldn't be leaving at 100%, and the story of challenging above his head while Cain picks low fruit. It was all good stuff.

4. PB Smooth/Colby Redd vs. Dave & Zane Dawson

ER: Dawsons are always going to be guys I like, so I'll focus on the other two. We got more of a look at big man PB Smooth, and I gotta say working as a babyface giant is not an easy spot to be in, and when you're as agile as he clearly is, it's tough to not come off "smaller" on your hot tags. It can be argued that working FIP would actually be easier for a babyface giant, much easier to hit a few big spots and then show vulnerability through a knee injury or something. I had never seen Redd before and he seemed fine, but he also seems like a guy I've seen a dozen of on various indy cards. He threw out a couple cool enziguiri variations, but even "nice enziguiri variation" is something I've complimented another wrestler on during this episode. Smooth has some nice offense that integrates his height and leaping ability, loved the high kick on the apron and the slam dunk rope choke from the floor.

PAS: I didn't like this much, no reason for this to go 10 minutes and I didn't think Smooth and Redd looked very good and the Dawsons are better as quick hit guys then working 60/40 in a long tag match. Smooth is big and has some really agility, but is aways away for being a compelling wrestler to watch. I am interested in what Smooth v. Cain Justice would look like.

5. Snooty Foxx vs. The Blue Devil

ER: They really need to make up their minds on whether it's Fox or Foxx, as it feels like they're playing a prank on my website tags every other week. This was a Foxxx squash, Blue Devil ran into a lariat nicely, Fawqs hit a big spear. Blue Devil could be a big time masked white privilege sexual assault gimmick, just a Duke boy run amok, slipping roofies to opponents to get wins, get him a manager who blames his opponents for what happens to them, never getting suspended because he still has a promising future. But this was just a squash.

PAS: The Blue Devil's Rayo De Jalisco mask got me curious about what a Snooty Foxx vs. Rayo De Jalisco Jr. would be like. Feels like Rayo would fit in really well in CWF, maybe better then any other lucha import, big guy, heavy hitter, nice timing, a couple of big spots. Feels like if CWF brought in a luchadore they would bring in Fenix or someone to work Trevor Lee, but Rayo v. Otto Schwanz would be the more intriguing match.

6. Nick Richards vs. Otto Schwanz

ER: I dug this, though thought the finish was a little bit too sudden, would have liked more. Richards blindsiding Otto and not letting up was a great way to start, with Otto doing an awesome job of scrambling just to try to survive and get some space. Richards keeps on him and Otto shoots for a great desperation single leg, and when the tide finally turned it was great, Otto headbutting him with his mask, Richards throwing thumbs to eye to try to get his own space, Otto finally grabbing a big bear hug and dropping some elbows. I was getting pretty damn into it, but thought the missed splash > ace crusher was a pretty weak quick finish.

PAS: I dug this, aggressive mat wrestling Otto is one of my favorite things in CWF, and his scrambles looked awesome here, loved the grounded bar fight headbutt, the ankle pick and the grinding takedowns looked great. I also loved Richards dirty fighting, jumping him from behind, raking the eye, not letting him off the ropes. When this was intense it was great, it would have been better as a killer 4 minute match, as when it got slowed down, it dragged slightly.

ER: I had a great time with this episode. Nostalgia is a pretty potent drug for me, and the commercials were blended in seamlessly and made for a super fun viewing. They even crushed little details like warped tracking and logo blur during the opening, making it look like when it was windy outside and our TV antennae would get turned a bit. I had a great time watching this, hopefully the first of several throwback specials.

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

WWE Money in the Bank 2017 Not Live Blog

I was up at my folks' place swimming all day today (it's 108 degrees here right now) so got home as the PPV was finishing, still thought I would do a write up.

1. The Colons vs. Hype Bros.

ER: PPV Pre show delivers again, these guys all have that 8 minute pre show timing down. Colons are a really good team and I'm glad they stick around. Epico has chubbed up a bit and that just makes me love him more. They craft some nice stuff around taking apart Ryder's leg, I always like the ankle DDT spot. Mojo has a decent hot tag and things peak right at the finish, with Mojo hitting lariats and shoulderblocks and absolutely splatting one of the Colons, which lead to a nice last split second save. Ryder comes in limping and hits a nasty broski boot and gets crazy height on the rough ryder leg drop lariat. This was a fine opener.

2. Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch vs. Tamina vs. Carmella vs. Natalya

ER: Tamina has the least flattering ring gear possible. It looks like they took Viscera's old gear and hemmed it. Rachel thinks Charlotte needs to wear some sort of short skirt with her gear, as she finds Charlotte's lack of hips distracting. I'm digging the early parts of this, nice basic ladder stuff. Charlotte nastily bulldogs Tamina into a ladder, Becky and Natalya ram a ladder into her stomach, nice ladder as weapon stuff. Loved Carmella trapping Charlotte's leg in the ladder and lobbing back elbows. Becky climbs a ladder seemingly just to get rana'd off by Carmella. Carmella leans out of a Charlotte yakuza kick. Charlotte takes a sick bump off the ladder from a nice Tamina headbutt. That spear spot right after could not have been uglier. They don't go through, then take forever to continue unnaturally falling to the floor. Tamina takes a nice backwards bump over some ring steps. And my oh my that match finish is incredibly uninspired. "Women can do anything!" Except that one woman needs to help of the literal lowest man on the WWE totem pole to win. And the crowd was clearly expecting things to get reversed or the result thrown out, and it drug on for awhile, and it never got thrown out. This was not very good, that ending felt like it came way early. Even if they wanted this specific finish, they could have done it while making Carmella look better, have her ordering Ellsworth to run distraction for her while she climbs for the case. Something.

3. New Day vs. Usos

ER: Heel Usos are awesome, love Big E, and Kofi bumps his way crazily into my heart by going high and fast to the floor off an Uso low bridge, then gets leveled by an Uso lariat. Usos really ragdoll Kofi around and I have high hopes for this Big E hot tag (earlier he hit his awesome apron splash), and the Usos keep cutting that damn ring off. The hot tag itself was fun, E hits three big belly to bellys, and the spear to the floor is still nutso. Kofi and an Uso both go for kicks and get tangled up in kind of a fun way. The end run has a scary moment where E is supposed to catch Jey out of the air to do a powerslam but Jey falls past him and easily could have gone face first into the mat. They awkwardly do the spot as planned, which involves Jey climbing up onto E. But the pinfall save after they finally do the spot is excellent. Things heat up nicely after that, Usos with another big save, Kofi hits a sweet trust fall dive to the floor...and then Usos just leave with the belts and get counted out. Dude. These finishes are making me salty.

4. Naomi vs. Lana

ER: OOF Lana has some all time bad entrance music. It sounds like a song someone took minutes to make in Mario Paint, just a looped drum beat and sax riff. Lana's movements in the ring are somewhat clunky, but I think she's a total win as a sexy crowbar. Her snap suplexes into the ring ropes were killer, and her little crescent kick through the ropes as Naomi was pulling herself up was nice, and I think she's pretty good at occupying herself and selling during Naomi's wrist-held high kicks. I think the Carmella mid match entrance worked, as she's now just looming with the threat of the stupid briefcase, though I think they went to the finish too quick after that, no momentum was built back up. The finishing submission looked good, but the heat went down with the Carmella entrance. I liked Lana in this, think she looked better than Tamina has ever looked.

And Mike Bennett/Maria are now in WWE and get a debut on a PPV? Have they been in NXT or something? Maria as a character has never done a thing for me, but I'm mildly amused at Mike taking her last name. I'll give both of them credit for however they keep getting paid TV gigs, but I'm not too excited to see them work.

5. Jinder Mahal vs. Randy Orton

ER: This all starts off good, both guys are working to not show light on strikes, Orton's stomps looked good, Jinder working as a great overpowering juiced up bully, taunting Orton Sr., throwing on a figure 4 in front of Flair; now I want him to do the Baron's claw and some high Gagne dropkicks. This whole thing progressed nicely and then hit a way-too-long Singh Bros. removal...but then we get Orton recklessly throwing them around again (slightly less reckless than last month), and in keeping with the bad finish theme of this show, that insanely long Singh Bros. interlude then leads to Orton losing the match the exact same way he lost the last match. I mean everything played out almost exactly the same. This match started quite good and then went the way of the others. This isn't that good of a show.

6. Breezango vs. Ascension

ER: Dude the Ascension are guys getting in on main show PPV matches!! What a truly unexpected match on this show. I watch Smackdown, have they even been on in the last month? Well, no matter, I actually like Vikto and he confirms my like by hitting a cool jumping knee to Breeze. Breeze takes offense really great, he'll lean up into an elbowdrop and take fast bumps to the floor, sell your resthold for you. Connor also wins me over by having huge muttonchops and hitting a fucking boss spinebuster. Weird match to show up on a PPV, but both teams looked good.

7. Money in the Bank Ladder Match: AJ Styles vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens vs.  Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin

ER: Big spots to start, Corbin working stiff, and I finally got invested when Dolph ran up a ladder to the ring apron to swipe AJ's legs in the middle of a springboard, like his own stupid ladder Hamburger Hill. I'm so sick of Zayn and Owens matching up, but Zayn at least will take a couple stupid bumps in a big (or small) match. Styles is out of this for too long as when he comes back in you suddenly realize that the energy of that match had been missing. Styles immediately makes the match more interesting, and Dolph awesomely climbs OVER Corbin on the ladder. And Dolph kind of continues worming his way back into my good graces by punching Zayn a bunch right in the fucking ear, while on the top of a ladder. And huge props to him for somehow taking the safest possible bump off a sunset flip powerbomb off said ladder. I mean that as a genuine compliment, the bump looked nasty but you could tell he took it right. It's a good skill. We somehow get a fucking nalf nelson suplex head drop ON THE RING APRON on a WWE PPV. WWE is now a 2001 Dateline NBC Backyard Wrestling highlight package. I now want them to do a tailbone shattering guillotine legdrop off Zayn's stepmom's house. I want Owens to give Zayn a burning hammer on a public park picnic table. Styles is really good at leaping off of ropes and crashing into people. He has precision "crash into stuff" skills. Styles leaping into that chokeslam was great, and Corbin plants him with one. Owens takes a Styles death valley driver off the apron through a set up ladder and holy shit all these guys are insane. This is a fucking amazing IWA Mid-South match right here. Dolph pulls the ladder out from AJ and AJ does all these great "hanging from the case" spots, trying to climb to his safety, trying to get over it for leverage to unhook the case, hanging from the case itself and scrambling to yank it down instead of unhook it; it felt like a bunch of cool tricks that Bill Dundee would work into a gimmick match. Nakamura finally comes back after being jumped pre-bell, and in a cool moment the fans continue singing his entrance music when it gets cut off, and he runs wild with a fresh man hot tag. He throws knees, boots Dolph in the face on a corner charge, kicks more face, knees Owens in the face, does enough in 1 minute to make me blow up. AJ and Nak get a cool little action movie stand off that made both seem like major guys, peering through the ladder at each other like Travolta and Cage in FaceOff. Great fistfight at the top of the ladder with those two...and then Baron Corbin wins it. Wow. Did not expect that...but I like it! Corbin coming out and taunting the champ with the case, playing mind games, would actually give him something to do instead of "This guy is in a bad mood!"

Overall the PPV wasn't a great one. It wasn't really even a good one. But that MITB match was really damn fun to me and felt like something I would see on a 2002 Jersey indy comp tape. And that makes me happy as hell. I wanted the buffering on my Network feed to fuck up so it would look like I was watching the match on a scratched 12th gen VHS dupe. And that ended things on an impossibly joy-filled mood, so thumbs up!

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Low-KI Kicked the Bitch Out the Room and Gave Her No Breakfast

Low-Ki vs. Andrew Everett Impact Wrestling 4/23/17 - GREAT

ER: I am a-okay with TNA continuing to exist as long as we get bi-monthly Low-Ki showcase matches. Here's another winner, as Low-Ki continues snapping off cool moves and big bumps while wearing a tight suit, and Everett tries his best to outbump him. Ki makes the simplest things look like bomb blasts, spots that a lot of guys just sleepwalk their way through. He takes dropkicks explosively, he delivers dropkicks explosively, he flies into the corner with an elbow like he's on a rooftop chase with a cop and leaping across buildings, he hammers down elbows in the corner like the most violent Whack-a-Mole game and Everett responds by getting bopped down each turnbuckle. Even something like getting a boot up on a charging opponent in the corner is given a violent twist as he vaults up and mulekicks Everett across the ring (and Everett is a guy who always looks pretty great violently bouncing across a ring). How many times have you seen a guy gingerly yank someone off the turnbuckles? Well, Ki yanks Everett off the ropes like he wants to rip his leg off his body. Everett gets a little comeback, but this seemed like a show off arm wrestler letting a guy gain some ground before slamming his arm to the table. Before long, Everett catches knees in a gross way on a shooting star press, and Ki stomps him into the mat, and into our hearts.

PAS: This was basically a Low-Ki semi-squash. Ki is a hell of guy squashing someone, and Everett is a hell of a guy getting squashed.The match is a little dry before the commercial break, but really kicks into gear after. Ki still has so much speed and explosion and Everett flies off him like he is on kung fu movie wires. The finish was especially nasty as Ki hits his John Woo kick and Everett flies head and neck first into the turnbuckle, then Ki goes up to the top and double stomps him full speed into his liver. I am likely never to watch another Impact match, but I am watching all Low-Ki what a treat he is. 

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Friday, June 16, 2017

Lucha Underground Season 3 Episode 16: The Battle of the Bulls

1. The Mack vs. PJ Black vs. Jeremiah Crane vs. Cage

ER: Man these 4 ways are starting to run together. And I don't think this was a very good one, even though I like most of these guys. The set up for stuff showed too many cracks: Cage catching dives and turning them into vertical suplexes is cool, but Crane made it too obvious he was jumping off the apron trying to get suplexed; Mack's flip dive is impressive as hell, but not as much when everybody completely whiffs on the catch and everybody (Striker included) pretends he nailed them all. Obviously there will be fun moments, it would be near impossible for these guys to not do SOMEthing cool. Mack moonsaulting onto a pile of guys or Crane getting powerbombed onto guys is expected 4 way fun. Crane does a sick double underhook piledriver on Black, and then Vampiro says "I saw Misawa beat Kawada with that move so many times when I toured All Japan in the 90s". I mean...almost every word of that sentence is 100% complete bullshit. Misawa never did that move, Vampiro never worked AJ the same time as Misawa, it's literally something that never happened, and something he didn't see happen. Is this like Berenstein/Berenstain Bears or that Sinbad genie movie? People are going to claim Vampiro was in AJ during that one and only tour where Misawa did a bunch of sit out double underhook piledrivers?

MD: As bad as anything else with these four ways is Striker giving one or two word summations of wrestlers. Ultimately, I'm with Eric on this. Lots of cool stuff, especially from Cage and Mack. Obviously, we weren't going to get Cage in WWE, but we came real close to Mack and I kind of wonder what a world where he got in there would look like. He'd probably be rounding out the six mans with Titus and Crews vs the New Day knowing them, but that'd still be a lot of fun. If you watch wrestling for acrobatics and feats of strength, this is for you. We generally don't. I guess, if nothing else, I thought they protected everyone well. Cage looked like he was in a class all his own; Crane got to hang with these guys which is important since he's relatively newly debuted; Black was mainly there to bounce off people. And after all of the spots and chaos, it ended about as anti-climatically as possible, though still in a way that refocuses things towards Mack vs Worldwide Underground. This was fun as usual, not great in the least, and the worst thing about it was definitely the commentary.

ER: Should I read too much into Mexicans warring against Lizard People? I assume if anything had actually come of those Russo rumors we would have already been dealing with a Pepe-masked authority figure.

MD: I can't get past the fact that they were looking for Drago in the stalls. What if they found him? How awkward would have that been? I chalk this up to Aerostar being an alien and not having proper boundaries. What an interminable bathroom fight.

2. Cage Match: Sexy Star vs. Johnny Mundo

ER: The woman who "inspired a generation"!! This is the first cage match in LU history, yes? I cannot imagine a more legendary person getting to honor the gimmick. "Strength, athleticism? I think they're equal." Yeah, Striker. She's probably about as strong as a man twice her size, and certainly isn't the clumsiest person in the fed facing a legit parkour loon. Man, I hate women. Matt Striker and Sexy Star have officially made me hate women. What a predictably awful match with a wonderfully excellent shitheel finish. We spend the whole match with both trying to escape (until Sexy jumped off the top with a crossbody when she could have escaped, then we got Striker retconning how Sexy Star would NEVER want to run away and escape, she confronts all of her problems HEAD ON!!), and if you thought Star's strikes looked bad on solid ground, then brother you better soak in those kicks while standing on the ropes. The sound engineer has never been so shameful with the sweetening. I liked Star's rana off the top in reaction to Mundo yanking her leg. The rest was awful. UNTIL we get to the perfect finish, with Mundo yanking off Star's mask sending her running for cover (you see, millions of young girls Sexy Star has inspired, her mask is her identity), and Mundo escapes with ease, rubbing it in before hopping to the floor. He even throws in a both arms up victory lap run to his belt. The only thing that salvaged this horror.

MD: I watched this on 2x Speed. I'm not going to remind Eric about the season 2 Cage vs Mundo cage match (Cage in a Cage, that's the name of the episode), mainly because I barely remember it. So, slightly different misogynistic take than Eric: the only way this possible could work, and the way it occasionally works, is if Mundo is brutally beating Star with the cage as a weapon. Why? Because she can't actually do anything. She can't hit her spots. She can't sell well. She can't draw sympathy. So it falls on Mundo to drive everything by being mean and cruel. Obviously, that has its own issues as we are fairly decent human beings, so this just had no leg to stand on. The "babyface refuses to win the match and leaps back into the ring instead" trope works better if 1.) there's no title on the line and 2.) the babyface is Jeff Hardy, not Sexy Star, whose entire character is about winning the title again. I will say this though: the great challenge of Season 3 has been to work with her, and I think what we've seen over the last few episodes is that Worldwide Underground, at least, have gotten better at cracking that code. You can learn a lot about a wrestler from how he works in a near-impossible situation and they've done about as well as could be expected. Mack showing up at the end to transition things was almost a relief, as was Sexy Star in the ring Dana Brooke posing her way right out of the main event scene.

ER: I actually do remember the name of that Cage in a Cage episode, but I also do not remember a thing about that match. Looking it up, my first sentence of the review was "This had some nice moments, but overall didn't do much for me." The math on me not remembering this match checks out.


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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Lucha Underground Season 3 Episode 15: En La Sombras

1. Killshot vs. Dante Fox vs. Mariposa vs. Jeremiah Crane

ER: I thought this was one of the more successful 4 way scrambles of the season. Participants don't always matter in these matches, as there's enough down time for everybody that people can be hidden. But layout is important and you need a traffic director, and people need to hit their stuff. It got a little kick-y and way too sound effects-y at one point (there's a spot down the home stretch where everybody is hitting a variety of kicks, back to back, and all of them have the exact same sound effect, so you were just getting that Slim Jim snap every two seconds), but this was a fun 10 minutes. Fox hit a bunch of rabid succession dives, and then Crane levels him with his awesome low tope. We get a ridiculous chair tower spot that leads to Mariposa throwing nasty chair shots at everyone, throwing chairs around like Necro Butcher, hitting guys at annoying angles with unfolded chairs, really fun bit of violence. Crane felt like he was running things in there, hanging back for the flip offense and always there to cut things off and keep it flowing. The postscript of the match was terrible though, with our final image being the continuing feud of Killshot/Fox, and Killshot hitting his finisher. And I still have zero clue what his finisher is supposed to be. He always just stomps both feet next to his opponent's head. Is it supposed to look like he's stomping the guy's face? Is it a bad bombs away? Whatever it is, no part of him makes any sort of contact with his opponent. Is the fear of another human being leaping high into the sky and *almost* landing on your face enough to paralyze one man long enough to get a 3 count? I'd probably be pretty rattled if I were lying around somewhere, and somebody almost landed on my face. So that's probably it. We'll go with that.

MD: I wanted to name this review: "Night of a Thousand Kicks." that's what this match felt like. In general, though, and this might just be me not watching a lot of super indy multimans and tags, I was really impressed by the complexity of the layout of this. There was a ton for these guys to keep track of and they did so pretty smoothly. I'm tempted to agree with Eric and give the credit for that to Crane. On the other hand, when you have this many strikes and kicks, none of them end up meaning anything. As much as I loved the image of the chairs (and it makes sense because Callihan's the world's best Ambrose), the unprotected shot meant nothing and was totally unnecessary. If you're going to do a spot like that, make it matter. On the other hand, Mariposa's shoulder blocks felt like they did matter because it was such a striking image to have the female in the match be the bully. They completely made it work and believable. Striker insinuating on commentary that insane Mariposa was somehow inspired, like the rest of America, by Sexy Star was pretty maddening though. And sure, if the shoulder blocks resonated, her tossing chairs around the ring absolutely did. She was a total bruiser in this match, even getting to finish the Tower of doom spot. I liked how frustrated she was in not winning the match too. Reactions like that are important in putting over the stakes. Killshot was generally as annoying as usual. Fox wasn't much better (and they're both all the worse for being neither heels nor faces; just being there). And yes, absolutely, on a show that's so heavily produced, why would they so clearly show us Killshot whiffing on his post-match finisher?

ER: There's not much worse than slo mo training in a dark gym to soft flamenco guitar plucking, and then finding a spider in your locker. Yucky! Luckily, that spider was in the locker of the woman who has overcome more than any woman in history.

MD: The Sexy Star thing wasn't so bad in 2x speed. She was hitting that bag super fast.

2. Kobra Moon vs. Drago

ER: Not a lot of LU matches end in a DQ, so I guess that makes this one noteworthy? According to Vampiro, Kobra Moon might not have any bones or cartilage, which I suppose could explain some of the clumsiness. I thought Drago looked quite good in the limited time we got; he did this single leg while shrugging her other leg over his body with his shoulder that looked smooth in a nice understated way. The smaller lizard person looks like Dirk Benedict at the end of Sssssss ("Don't say it, hiss it!").

MD: I'm thinking they should probably have done this over a span of three weeks right? Lizard guy one could debut after a normal Drago squash and look good in the debut. The next week, the trios champs could run him off. Then Lizard Kane could show up on week 3? That would have made everyone look stronger. This way Lizard Kane (did they have to give him both the Chokeslam AND the Tombstone?) was the only one who really got over. Drago's trip-based offense looked better than Angelico's trip based offense later in the night at least. His Dominator was brutal. I can't believe they let Ron Simmons do that week in and week out in 1996.

ER: Sexy Star has shown more anger and passion over this spider in her locker than she showed following her six months as a kidnapped slave. I'm starting to think Sexy Star is really bad at this.

MD: Hey, they made the Iron Fist hallway fight look good. Is this the first real time we've heard Mariposa speak? That's a mistake.

3. Jack Evans vs. PJ Black vs. Son of Havoc vs. Angelico

ER: This was quite the worst of stupid multiman spots, with tons of really bad set ups for moves that didn't look great anyway. PJ Black standing bent at the waist holding Angelico's waistband for an eternity, just to set up Havoc doing a double stomp, was a microcosm of this match. But it did peak with a legitimately holy shit spot with Angelico superplexing Jack Evans off the buckles to the floor. He clearly went over PJ/Havoc and took a full superplex all the way to the floor. Crazy, insane spot, taken by an insane man. But it was fine, as Jack was back in the ring for the finish no less than 15 seconds later. Very little to love about this match.

MD: In theory, I kind of liked that they switched up the way the match was laid out compared to the other multimans and made it a bit more of a 2 vs 2 thing. In practice, they didn't lean hard enough into it. Angelico/Havoc/Ivelisse had a real connection with the crowd. They could have done more with that. I don't think this was necessary worse than some of the other Bulls matches with the contrived set ups, but when you add in the lack of (narrative) impact everything had, it was pretty grating. I liked when they dumped Havoc out of the ring and that did set up an Angelico vs the World bit, but the bit itself was so bad that it didn't really earn any lasting goodwill. And hey, Angelico looks like a putz after they set up his return.

ER: This, right here, was a bad episode of professional wrestling.

MD: I'd call it more middling. That first multiman, while not necessarily a good professional wrestling match, was at least an impressive spectacle.

ER: I will compromise and say, "This, right here, was not a good episode of professional wrestling."


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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Lucha Underground Season 3 Episode 14: The Bulls of Boyle Heights

MD: I could watch Dario backstage with people all day. Angelico doesn't portray a tough guy well at all, but there's enough weight built up in his grudge with Mundo from time alone that all of this works. I like that he has to go through one more hoop to get to him. I swear that 2017 WWE wouldn't think through a character enough to run with the Bull theme with Dario like they're doing here. It's obvious that his plan was having Angelico and Matanza in the 4 way next week.

1. Cage vs. Texano vs. Joey Ryan vs. Dr. Wagner Jr.

ER: Oh good, I was hoping we'd get some additional Cage/Texano interactions outside of their best of 27 series. And this got a decent amount of time. And was not very good. We did get a lot of Texano/Cage interactions, which we've already seen just...way too much of, and it's still not working. When Texano is announced, Striker said, "One word: GREAT." Texano may have the biggest gap in "actual output in promotion" versus "how promotion wants him to be perceived" in the fed...if it weren't for one TINYYYYYY person in LU illustrating that same thing times 10. Wagner is one of the most charismatic men I've ever seen live, and I'm wondering why it's not coming through on LU. Is it because they want you to think everybody is a big charismatic star? Is it the differences in lucha filming vs. professional high end LU filming? Is he just being portrayed here like "just another guy"? Is it because he was saddled with Famous B - who is amusing in his role but makes a legitimate star like Wagner come off as bottom rung? Wagner still moves like a star, still seems like he has that charisma, but the way they're using him it could really be anybody under that mask. Cage looked pretty impressive here, that moonsault to the floor was nuts (and everybody was nuts for standing right under it), and for what felt like a throwaway match (even though it's part of a larger match concept) Cage came off pretty big here.

MD: This was a typical Lucha Underground multiman. You can't help but contrast it to the match later in the night and while that one had more fun character interactions, this was less stilted and choreographed. I thought both Cage and Texano came off pretty well here, actually. There's zero hook to Texano in lucha underground and generally seeing him here just makes me wish he was teaming with Terrible in CMLL still, but he stood tall against everyone for a decent amount of time. I get what Eric's saying though. I think the problem with Wagner in LU is that he doesn't really get to be Wagner. Everything about this promotion plays against his strengths. He's not a guy who can just come in and hit spots endlessly and then get out of the ring so the next person can take over. It's those dead spaces between spots where he can play to the crowd and make things mean something (or not mean something in a way that makes him look good, which is a Wagner special) where he excels. Even Vampiro pointed out that this wasn't really Wagner's style of match. These things were made for Cage to hit spots though. He was physically astonishing in this match, to the point where I stopped really caring whether or not this was good. Catching Ryan in mid-air and jackhammering him is insanely impressive. It was nice to see the rope come back into play for the finish as it had annoyed me how little its use mattered in the match itself.

MD: The second she told Reyes that he had to go back to the Temple, I was rooting for her to put him under a mask. That they're actually going with that shows how on point this show can be at times.

2. Sexy Star vs. PJ Black

ER: "You can't help but get behind Sexy Star!" You might think that was the case, Striker, but I suppose I just despise poor downtrodden women. That's something about ME that needs work. After all, if I can't get behind this one brave woman, who am I, and what wrong steps have *I* taken as a human? But this match was probably upper tier for Sexy Star. She has no idea how to transition, and no idea how to make up the size difference, and sometimes it's pretty clear she doesn't know how to fall for certain moves, but Black at least knew how to build to her bigger spots and they crafted a nice nearfall off the Styles Clash kickout. I liked Star's rana, and I liked PJ bragging on the top rope to set up his huge nasty drop onto the turnbuckles, and yeah, this was fine. You know she's going to win, and you know the commentary is going to be ridiculously over the top while praising her contributions to the history of womankind, but the match overall worked.

MD: In general, I wish they just moved Star over to Taya. If this had to happen, hwoever, I'm with Eric that the match overall did work. Most of that was on Black, his arrogance (including cheating when he didn't even have to), and is general unwillingness to sell for her unless she really earned it. He seemed to be putting an extra bit of oomph into everything too, which is not something people do with her. I came out of this wondering if I haven't been undervaluing Black. It's a shame he keeps injuring himself on basejumps or whatever. All that said, I'll be honest: I tend to watch Sexy Star matches at 2x speed, so my views on them are suspect.

ER: So Kobra Moon of all people is getting her own stable of reptilians? They're now building her up as some sort of millennia-long leader, when up til now all she's done is lose short matches and flirt with boys. It's a long con, people.

MD: I was wondering how this meshed with her and Daga from last season too. I think the line is that she ate him whole? Still, I'm all for the expansion of the mythos, and even more so the fact that they rationalized spending the money to actually make a GiJoe Serpentor throne in 2017.

3. Marty the Moth Martinez vs. Dragon Azteca Jr. vs. The Mack vs. Mil Muertes

ER: This didn't end the way I was expecting it to, as with the participants I assumed this would be a guaranteed path for Mil Muertes. And Muertes looked pretty awesome in this, loved his big uppercuts, and the showdown with Moth. Moth standing up to him and getting clocked in the jaw, then later speared through the ropes was terrific. Azteca and Mack matched up nicely, and that tornado DDT Azteca hits is insane. The ending was pretty stupid, with Azteca getting almost a visual pinfall on Muertes, then goes up to hit something else, waits there forever for the Matanza run-in (couldn't they have edited that closer together), and then other people just kill time being inactive while Matanza does his thing. His ragdoll slamming of Azteca was cool, but didn't love how it played into the match, with Mack then kind of just vulturing the win.

MD: As much as I liked Marty interacting with everyone, there was a heck of a lot of him putting his head down for a while so Azteca could leap over him or just hanging out so that he could eat that big spear shot off the apron. Him staring down Mil like a madman was the best part of this. Mil looked a step above everyone else. The guy just exudes star power in this gimmick. He moves just a little slower than everyone but everything feels so deliberate and impactful. Again, I did like how Azteca hit his crazy spinning DDT the first time and then got destroyed on the second. The show uses blood relatively sparingly so seeing Dario come out with the gimmick was a striking moment. I can't wait for Rey vs Matanza. I can wait to see Mack and Cage up against each other again considering they just did that towards the end of last season.


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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Low-Ki Has Been Controllin the Street, Holdin the Heat

Low-Ki v. Trevor Lee v. Suicide v. Sonjay Dutt v. Andrew Everett v. Dezmond Xavier Impact Wrestling 4/20/17 - FUN

ER: At times messy, almost always fun scramble with Ki looking like a megastar and Lee not looking too far behind. We got a lot of dorkiness with six guys either trying to not get in the way, or trying to sync things while other pairings are syncing things, with the match reaching peak fart sound when all six tried to dropkick each other at once. Things got better after that. Ki looked like a total beast here, every move he did look vicious and every move he took made someone else look vicious. His baseball slide dropkick to the floor (to two guys!) looked the best. Lee adds a bunch of little things that these matches don't always get (like leaping to grab for Dutt's leg as Dutt is going for a trainwreck dive), and the best flying was probably done by Suicide. Caleb Konley is under the hood now and he had a nice little match, his stuff looked real crisp and his fast segments came off most fluid (an important skill to bring to one of these clusters). We get dives, we get some stupid and nasty reverse ranas from Everett (hated his slo mo handspring by the way), Dutt worked the match with basically one eye (which is nuts), and this was good. Gimme Ki v. Lee eventually (lotta fucking hard E sounds in that last sentence).

PAS: Too many guys, too much nonsense to be a really good match, but this was certainly fun stuff. Ki looked like a kingpin his moves have such impact, and this match was full of young guys excited to bump like nutsos on Low-Ki spots. Everett especially takes every in ring bump like he is try to shatter his own spine. Xavier seemed to be mostly backflips, but he does get cracked. That double stomp by Ki onto the small of Lee's spine felt like it would either cause permanent back problems, or solve them. Lee v. Ki will hopefully get some really time to shine when it finally happens as those guys could put on a killer.  (lets run in CWF-MA actually.)

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Monday, June 12, 2017

CWF Mid-Altlantic Worldwide Episode 105

Episode 105

1. SIS vs. Priscilla Kelly

PAS: SIS slings potatoes when she wrestles men, putting her against another woman almost feels like watching an uncomfortably violent intergender match. Kelly, the valet for the Carnies, puts in a game effort, she unloads some nasty kicks and forearms, but SIS just brings the heat. Southern Indy Aja Kong is a really cool thing to have in 2017

ER: Yeah this is actually the first time I've seen SIS against a female, I'd just gotten used to her against men that I've stopped thinking of her as a female. Priscilla Kelly is a name I've seen popping up a lot on FloSlam but didn't realize she was the gal appearing with the Carnies. I also did not realize that she was on (still is on?) some reality show called My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding, she is very young (probably just 19 or 20) and has a dad who is basically Jamie Dundee. Her kicks need a lot of work but the ideas are good. I liked all the kicks specifically targeting SIS' legs, especially the running low kick to the patella. The punt on the apron with the leg landing on the top rope, followed by a gyrate, is a pretty great heel gloat (wait she's a heel right? Does that mean SIS is a face!?). The kicks just need to be tightened up. But she leaned in to all of SIS' nasty stuff, the great headbutt, the body press in the ropes, the low german, so I imagine she'll keep getting better.

2. AJ Gray vs. Xsiris

ER: I thought this was really damn good. CWF pulls from a pretty ridiculously deep talent pool, they can bring in a debuting guy like AJ Gray and the guy seems like he's been at it for years, a debuting guy who already has tons of polish. I assumed it would just be an Xsiris squash and what we got was much better than that. Xsiris doesn't really take Gray too seriously, asking someone in the crowd what Gray's name was so he can taunt him. Xsiris looked really good, and should really be on TV more (if Stutts is to be believed on commentary, apparently he has a day job that prevents him from wrestling more often?), he's almost a clone of Brad Attitude, and I would love more Brad Attitudes in wrestling. A great right hand goes a long way with me, and he has that and more. We build nicely to a huge comeback lariat from Gray, and for something I expected to go 90 seconds I was pleased as punch we got a good match out of it.

PAS: CWF does has a really deep talent pool, although in some way that can be a detriment. We can go months with out seeing guys like Xsiris or Lee Valiant, and the shows are often filled with rookies of varying quality. Gray was pretty good, and I liked the story of Xsiris not taking him seriously and paying for it.

ER: (Agree wholeheartedly with Phil's point about a deep talent pool being a blessing and a curse)

3. Aric Andrews/Dave Dawson/Dirty Blondes (Mike Patrick/Leo Brien) vs. Nick Richards/Mitch Connor/Slade Porter/Ace Perry

ER: An okay enough CWF/WAR 8 man, though they don't really do a whole lot with the 10 minutes given. Mitch Connor has a nice Jake Milliman look and babyface charisma, but most of the match is spent with him getting his knee worked, and it's weird to work the middle 6 minutes like that and then just rush through a multiple tag finish. I'd be fine with Perry and Porter not appearing again for a long while, and in turn I want WAY more of the Dirty Blondes. I really liked them in the Kernodle Cup and want to see more of what they can do (and I love Brien's downward angle right hand). I loved Connor's dedication to selling the knee when he finally tagged out, but this wasn't much.

PAS: I enjoyed Connor's selling, and all of the heels were good (it was nice to see Andrews get some offense for once), I thought Perry and Porter's offense wasn't great but they took some big bumps. Porter absolutley died on a back suplex and Perry spiked himself on the Andrews choke bomb.

4. Battle Bowl 10 Man Battle Royal

ER: I think I'm a bigger battle royal fan than most, but this probably got too much time. There were some good things, like Andrews quietly stooging around for Mecha, Wilkins getting sandwiched by the Sandwich Squad, a sick elimination bump from Biggs, Royal getting uppercutted and elbowed around by several guys ("Planet of the Ace is off its axis," said Cecil Scott amusingly), but this didn't have enough for me. And it doesn't always take much for me to get behind a Battle Royal.

PAS: I liked the finish run between Royal and Richards, most times battle royals are going be made on final runs and I thought they were great. Nasty shots, and the battle on the apron was cool with Richards trying to german Royal off the apron and slipping and falling off. Gets the full Worldwide point from me.

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2017 Ongoing MOTY List: Black Terry/Diablo Scrap w/ Veneno/Chicano

22. Black Terry/Diablo Jr. v. Chicano/Veneno IWRG 2/26

PAS: This is a tourney final for the IWRG intercontinental titles and has exactly what you want from an IWRG title match. The opening fall had some really fun matwork, Veneno is a guy who I didn't like for years, but has turned into a really fun veteran in his old age. He appears to have take a jujitsu class as his mat stuff is more shootstyleish then most lucha. The highlight of this match though is when it got violent. Veneno starts cracking Diablo Jr. with headbutts, Terry tags himself in and they just start smashing each other with gross headbutts including Veneno opening up a huge gash on his forehead. Finish was pretty dumb with Danny Casas running in and throwing a weak chair shot on Veneno so Terry could pin him. Terry is still what he is.

ER: The only logical explanation for what happened with Veneno, is that when Olimpico lost his mask in 2010 some kind of Freaky Friday scenario took place, and Olimpico switched bodies with Veneno, thus making Veneno suddenly very watchable and Olimpico very skippable. It's the only thing that makes sense. I thought Veneno looked great in this. I thought his matwork against Terry was a real highlight; him beating at Terry's clasped hands to try to break them and give him the armbar was awesome. I loved all of Veneno's dropkicks, they pack a nice wallop and were used in cool, different ways (high horizontal dropkick as a big move, low dropkick to Diablo's kneecaps after faking a lock-up, the missed dropkick that blasts the ref). Diablo works with a nice energy, and Terry brings his brand of gravitas to things, peaking with him coming in to sacrifice his own noggin to save Diablo from taking Veneno's vicious headbutts (and my god those headbutts were vicious). Finish is agreeably stupid and lazy, fitting well within 2017's theme of terrible match finishes.


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Sunday, June 11, 2017

All Time MOTY List Head to Head 2004: Necro v. Klein V. Kobashi v. Takayama

Kenta Kobashi vs. Yoshihiro Takayama (NOAH 4/25/04)

ER: Wow. I...didn't actually love this. And I feel kind of stupid about it, because everything I've seen written about the match is about how great it is. And this was a period of NOAH I still loved, in fact it was probably still my favorite promotion. But this felt much more like Omega/Okada than any of my favorite NOAH/AJPW singles main events. I liked elements of the match - several of them - like the slow early build that felt ominous, as if neither man wanted to take the first shot, and the build made that first backhand by Kobashi feel even nastier. Kobashi's chops to the neck all match looked vicious, and Takayama's shots looked bone rattling. Takayama's armwork made sense, and Kobashi sold it nicely, sometimes very subtly (using his other arm to chop)...and things just got weird for me from there. We got more stand and strike exchanges, we started trading ugly headdrop suplexes, Kobashi randomly grabbed his arm 10 minutes after the arm work - something I hadn't seen him do yet - and within a minute threw one of several burning lariats (so he overtly reminded me his arm still hurt, right before using his arm more than he did the rest of the match. I guess I'm supposed to buy that he's working through the pain?), both do death selling before getting right back up and throwing suplexes again. A lot of it just didn't work for me and the build felt scattered all over the place. I liked Takayama going MMA, but felt like it was too late in the match. I didn't like it as a desperation move, I like it more when a guy does it as a condescending move. Kobashi dumps him with the nastiest brainbuster and hitting more lariats. The suplex trading and strike exchanges just felt too modern NJPW to me, and it's not something that does it for me anymore. The strikes and basics here looked much better - and that counts for a lot, as I do think this is a better version of modern NJPW and will always look better than Okada/Omega. But it's not a framework I enjoy. I honestly think I need to revisit this, as it felt like I was watching a different match than the one I read about as 100% praised.

PAS: I think Eric is nuts, this is a great heavyweight slugfest between two monstrous dudes, a big boy fight which has all the drama and violence the moment demands. Takayama has some of best thudding shots in wrestling and everytime he lands a knee or kick it has this awesome bass sound like a cricket bat hitting a watermelon. There were a bunch of cool individual moments.  I loved the spot when they are battling on the floor, Kobashi tries to get into the ring and Takayama just throws him off the apron with a german. Lots of the times an apron spot is set up and teased, but here it is just a surprise moment of violence and it is awesome. Kobashi diving into the corner on an attack and getting caught mid air with a huge knee was great. During the final run Takayama flipping out and throwing this great MMA combo was awesome, this was the fight of his life and he was going to go back into PRIDE to finish this guy off, so cool like something out of an epic Low-Ki match. The arm selling complaint is really odd, Kobashi sells the arm during the entire finish run, including failing to getting Takayama up for a couple of suplexes and the burning hammer, and I totally buy a maniac like Kobashi continuing to throw lariats with a busted arm, he sells each lariat like a boxer with a broken hand who was going to punch through the pain. This was a NOAH Kobashi bomb fest, they aren't my favorite type of matches, but this was an all timer for that style.

ER: Phil's criticisms of my criticisms are fair. Maybe I was in a grumpy mood or was too inebriated while watching and reviewing this match. Maybe I accidentally watched Okada/Omega again and my brain said "Let's see...promotion stalwart vs. guy with shitty hair...yep, this must be the match".


ER: This really surprised me. Takayama was one of the main reasons I got so into puro in 2001/2002, but this didn't do much for me. Maybe it's because I know both guys are brain damaged and/or crippled now, but I just didn't like this. And on memory I was expecting it to be the new champ. But Necro retains his improbable crown.

PAS: Kobashi and Takayama wins pretty clearly for me, at this point the Necro match retaining the title has an Eric as twin Hebners feel to it.

ER: I would be fully willing, wholeheartedly, to rewatch this match if enough people think I didn't give it a fair shake. Chalk the challenge up to questionable officiating and run the rematch. I just can't shake that something felt off for me about the match...

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Saturday, June 10, 2017

2017 Doesn't Make the List: 4 1/2 & 5 Star Edition

1. Hiromu Takahashi vs. Dragon Lee (NJPW 2/11/17)

What a stupid little match. I genuinely like a lot of their CMLL matches, and I think their 3/4/16 match should land on our MOTY list (but Phil refuses to watch it so we likely won't ever know). But now the moves keep getting bigger and the actual point just skipped town. The Mexico matches had a strong tecnico/rudo leanings, with Kamaitachi being the despised foreigner. Here both guys take turns playing heel, and it's only one of the reasons that none of the moves here meant a damn thing. One minute Lee would do these great dickish condescending kicks to a downed Takahashi, and right after Takahashi would be yanking at Lee's mask. It all rang hollow when they would then fighting spirit their way through some suplexes. Both men were too wimpy to commit to a persona, and it made all of their spots look like geek show exhibition than two guys trying to win; it's that Kurt Angle "We're going to have a 5 star match" said during a supposedly heated promo. One-upsmanship can be compelling, but not nearly as much when neither guy is working a consistent emotion. The Mexico matches benefitted greatly from the 2/3 falls structure, as it gave some natural breathing time (which these two have shown they are incapable of doing, rushing through huge spots as if there was a madman threatening to blow up the arena if they work below a certain speed), and most importantly it allowed 2 extra pinfalls, so that at least a couple of their finishers actually got to finish something. There are some genuinely spectacular spots in this match, and some genuinely stupid ones, often spectacularly stupid. I'd be shocked if Lee could keep a straight train of thought and wasn't slurring speech postmatch after taking that sunset flip powerbomb, getting thrown off the top to the floor while setting up a double stomp, and later getting brained into the guardrail catching Takahashi's wild senton. The problem is that it sure never felt like it was affecting him that much, as he would always go immediately back on offense. The fans didn't even seem to react to much of this until Takahashi awesomely unmasked Lee. Shocking, that actually committing to being a dick lead to an actual emotional reaction. Many moves were done, neither man struggled to do any of the moves, both men were heels until they weren't, many moves were kicked out of, eventually one of the moves was not kicked out of.

2. Michael Elgin vs. Tetsuya Naito (NJPW 2/11/17)

Damn. This one had me, until it lost me. And then after it lost me, it continued existing for another 10 minutes. I was hooked, really into it. Elgin isn't a guy I love but I was really loving his performance. His early power stuff was awesome, and I loved Naito's bug eyed desperation as he had no clue what to do to actually stop the beast. Elgin catching Naito's tope was far and away the most impressive I have ever seen that spot. On paper it's always an impressive spot, but it's really difficult to make it look like the diver didn't know he was being caught ahead of time. Here, with Naito's facials and Elgin's strength, it looked like Naito hit a dive the exact same way he normally would have, and Elgin  unexpectedly caught him and suplexed him (AND sold the suplex himself, as it WOULD hurt to suplex a guy on the floor). So I was pretty sold on the match at that point. And then Naito started working over Elgin's knee, and Elgin sold it really great. Not just limping around, but doing neat things like hitting a german and bridging on his good leg, and two different times using the ropes to assist him in doing a kick (an enziguiri and later a superkick). There were a couple of minor lapses but overall the selling was really spot on, and gave Naito important openings. Elgin was still catching him with some brutal standing shots (including those great standing lariats) and Naito was starting to pull ahead. It was good. It was a smooth, turbulence-free landing on the MOTY list. And then Elgin started doing some rope running spots, some of his big lifts, knee unaffected. Which, okay, nobody is perfect. And then it happened the rest of the match, even when Naito locked in a leg bar, and the crazy moves to Naito ramped up, which means he was kicking out of everything that looked deadly, and then the thing just shot past the end zone and kept running out of the stadium, Gump style. The overkill went on too long, past the point of interest. I could not call it a bad match, as the first 60% had tons of value, but man did they work really really hard to undo all of that. I really loved the build and tone this match had, which makes it a huge disappointment that they went the direction they did. And that's arguably a worse offense than just being a bad match from the bell.

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Friday, June 09, 2017

Lucha Underground Season 3 Episode 13: Breaker of Bones

ER: I am so ready to not have any more Pentagon/Vampiro storyline.

MD: I see this whole episode as Lotus being a screw-up and her people sending the Triad to fix things.

1. Pentagon Dark vs. Doku

ER: One of the ninjas is Kairi Hojo?? That's awesome! Her style should make a great fit for LU. And I thought this whole thing was really good. Hojo is crazy and looked far better than any other female they've brought in. She runs into some stiff kicks from Pentagon and bumps halfway across the ring for a running dropkick. She really throws her body recklessly into offense and even though she's rather small, the fact that she doesn't act like she's small makes up for a lot. She doesn't act vulnerable, so it never crosses my mind to view her as such. She gets impressive height on her elbow drop, and I loved her going for a second one and getting caught in the arm break. This is the most I've enjoyed Pentagon in a match in some time. He actually came off vicious like he used to, and dropped all of the awful hamminess he's picked up.

MD: Writing in retrospect, I love the cumulative damage that Pentagon took as the matches went on. Here, he was able to take over after one cocky mistake from Hojo and he never really looked back. I wish that she'd been able to get more, but she took all of his offense exactly as she had to and they set up a brutal mood for the night. The finish was perfect.

MD: The Sami Callihan/Catrina stuff felt kind of contrived given the broader arc of the season, but if we're getting a Sami/Muertes match at some point, it sure works for me.

2. Pentagon Dark vs. Yurei

ER: I have not seen Maya Iwatani before (joshi is a perpetual blindspot for me) so I'm happy they've brought all these gals in. But this match mostly sucked. Yurei is even lankier than Doku, and there were so many moments where she had to muscle Pentagon around, and every single one of those moments looked horrible. Every time she dragged him while brawling, whipped him into something, shoved him into the turnbuckles, whatever the case, it happened throughout the whole match and looked so so bad. The seemingly random sound sweetening didn't help things either, as for whatever reason Yurei seemed like she was pulling her strikes (maybe her strikes always look this bad, I don't know), so she'd throw a few weak slaps, and the second one would get the gunshot sound effect for some reason, and all the others were just left to die a quiet painless death by the sound crew. This wasn't good, and went too long.

MD: Mayu Iwantani is new to me too. A lot of this was a one sided mauling of Pentagon around the ringside area and in that regard I like that they changed things up from the last match. I also thought she showed some contrast by portraying sheer joy about everything she was doing. I just wish what she was doing had been a little better. That said, there were some specific spots I liked, like when she used the bell, how Pentagon caught the knee and moved it into the crab, and the flip catch into the package piledriver. At least this progressed the story.

MD: Matanza's ghastly arts and crafts project drawing the bloody question mark was about as Lucha Underground as anything, but in a mostly good way.

3. Pentagon Dark vs. Hitokiri

ER: This was pretty wild as Shirai is also nuts, and this required her to be at her most insane. Pentagon had already tired himself working two other matches, so was using the last of his strength to try and put away his final opponent. Shirai just needed to withstand his last, strongest attacks, and come through the other side. She started with a couple wild dives, and kicks Pentagon around the Temple. I liked her mocking kicks, and how she kept ramping them up. But when Pentagon got vicious, he got vicious, and Hitokiri took some absolutely lunatic bumps into chairs. I mean she flew into these things in the most painful ways, some of the sickest bumps in LU history. Pentagon also starts choking her with a cord in nasty ways. I'm sure this made a lot of people uncomfortable, and I think a lot of credit goes to Hitokiri's selling for making this look even more violent than we all know it was. It was very effective. Sadly, Vampiro was making horrific sweaty fat guy fuck noises the whole time, they really overshadowed her awesome performance. I honestly have no idea what Vampiro was going for in this match, but it was as bad as anything Striker has ever done. What made it worse was that this was probably the most Striker has ever shut up during a match, so you just had Vampiro making gorilla sex noises for 10 minutes. I didn't love how they set up the drop toe hold into the chair, as we had already seen Hitokiri go through literally dozens of chairs, so it seems silly to set up one single chair on the floor, walk halfway around the building to grab her, just to try to throw her through one chair. It's a lazy, contrived and poorly thought through set up. But I can't argue with how nutso that dive was, so even though the set up was weak, that spot was awesome, and hats off to the camera work as the angle they chose made her crazy leap look that much crazier. Unique layout and nicely executed match from both, and this episode needed this performance. The whole concept could have easily flopped, but they made it work.

MD: Shirai was a force of nature here, and the fact that Pentagon was so beat down made this all work. Hell, she was so good in her role that it might have worked anyway. You had the impression that Yurei was gingerly toying with him to some extent. Hitokiri is just there to do damage and finish the job. Pentagon deserves credit too for showing such vulnerability and really having to fight his way back. It made all the revenge spots he hit in the back match mean all the more. There's a fine line between proper foreshadowing/payoff and something being contrived and overthought. The drop toe-hold straddled it but it ultimately worked for me in the grand scheme of things, especially punctuated by what followed.

ER: I still don't totally understand the idea of a Triad of ninjas all agreeing to work singles matches with no interference, and the episode seemed rushed as all we've seen of the Triad is their interference in Aztec Warfare, and they haven't gotten any vignettes setting this up. So that's weird, and you wouldn't think ninjas would operate that way, but whatever, I thought the episode worked.

MD: I wish they'd do more theme episodes like this. It's wholly unique, something you can only get from a TV show that's about wrestling as opposed to pro wrestling on TV. I do think they could have spent a few more weeks building to it. If this is all we're getting out of these three that's a shame. I have no idea what they do with Lotus next, but they managed to piggyback some more momentum for Azteca too. Fun show.


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