Segunda Caida

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

Monday, July 31, 2017

2017 Ongoing MOTY List: Lorcan v. Burch

50. Oney Lorcan v. Danny Burch NXT 6/23 (Aired 7/19/17)

PAS: Four minute Locan sprints are some of the most consistently entertaining wrestling around. This felt like they were trying to do Regal v. Finlay, and while this wasn't that, it was still damn fun. I am still not sold on Burch, he had some stuff which didn't hit cleanly, but when Locan nearly beheads him with his diving European it gets gruesome. Burch starts bleeding from the bridge of his nose and they start slapping the shit out of each other. Four minutes of shitstorm and hellfire.

ER: Lorcan really seems like a guy who is regularly aiming for "Legendary WCW Saturday Night" match level, and those kind of guys always seem to worm their way up my list of personal favorites; the guys who see that they have 4 minutes to work a match, and don't view that as a negative, and instead think of what they can fit in to make it memorable. Finlay had that act down pat, never letting the length of a match dictate the quality of a match. 90 seconds? No problem, here's a 90 second short story. 15 minutes? Sure, here's a longer story. Lorcan gets 4 minutes here and both men make the most of them. I'm typically higher on Burch than Phil is, and thought he looked good here: nice haymakers, short and sharp elbow strikes, doesn't skimp on stomach kicks, leaned into Lorcan's most brutal stuff and dished it right back. You need two to tango if you're going to work a 4 minute war, and Burch was right there. Lorcan - like Finlay - makes offense look good as well as delivering great offense, and here he was always there to take the war to the next level. He nearly flings himself through the ring ropes delivering an unhinged European uppercut, he takes a wild bump for a huge Burch lariat, and after eating a kick to the chops he straight up grabs Burch by the mandible and wakes Burch up with slaps. The powerbomb was a great nearfall, and both men came off like total savages here.


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Sunday, July 30, 2017

Lucha Worth Watching: CMLL 7/21/17

Rush/Kraneo/Pierroth vs. Marco Corleone/Caristico/Diamante Azul 

ER: I really like this rudo trio, whenever Kraneo fills in it brings a different kind of chaos, the guys pair off differently, and he's just awesome. They all bully Caristico around, Rush slams his head in the barricade door, later goes to hit his high jump corner dropkick, stops as Caristico braces for the dropkick, then just kicks Caristico in the teeth with his boot toe. The rudos run wild, Kraneo hits the running hip attack and dances around the ring, Pierroth hits a stiff senton on Azul, Marco punches a bunch to comeback but it's not enough. I love when Kraneo is opposite Marco as otherwise you don't have a heavyweight presence large enough to counter the biggest tecnico. Dominant tecnico is a difficult thing to pull off, and it's easier with Kraneo looking massive across from him. Pierroth rips off Caristico's head, kicks it over to Pierroth, Pierroth juggles it a bit, kicks it up to his chest and belly, bounces it around some more, kicks it up for Rush, and Rush boots it DEEP into the Arena Mexico cheap seats. We get some nice comebacks, with Caristico hitting a crashing dive into Kraneo, Rush takes a couple big bumps to the floor, Marco hitting the high jump crossbody and even Azul hitting a high jump flying clothesline. I love how Rush and his team never truly get comeuppance, it's going to be the biggest thing in lucha history when it finally happens. The second things are going badly for the team, Rush boots Caristico in the balls directly in front of the referee, then rips his mask off. He is hate.

Euforia/Gran Guerrero/Ultimo Guerrero vs. Niebla Roja/Dragon Lee/Volador Jr. 

ER: A lot of these guys feel like they match up a lot, so it becomes clear pretty early in a match when they're doing something a bit beyond typical. This is the best version of their match, long enough to satisfy, short enough that everyone could go go go, nobody dogging it, and some actual hate instead of just through-the-motions spot rehearsal. Euphoria gets matched up with Dragon Lee a bunch and admirably keeps up, and both Euforia and Niebla Roja had star caliber performances. I thought the rudos gelled great and had some great taunts (the huddle rally while holding the tecnicos in Gory Specials was inspired), all of them bump big and put on super impressive catching displays, and their double teams all looked violent (Gran's powerbomb off a Roja springboard was gross). It was fun to see Lee mix it up with a different kind of rudo; usually he's against younger, crazier guys, so it's cool to see him against older sturdy guys like Euforia and UG. They both know how to eat his creative kick combos, loved the one where he slams a guy's head into the buckle from the apron and kicks it. Roja broke out impressive flying and made me jump out of my seat when he dodged Euforia (Euforia takes his nice bump around the ringpost) and then hit a BOSS rolling elbow all the way across the ring. UG takes his fast Jerry bump to the floor, Lee smooshes him with a big flip dive, but Volador/Euforia break out the holy shit moment of the evening, when Volador doesn't just hit a hurricanrana to the floor, he does a SPRINGBOARD first, and Euforia is standing close to the barricade, so Volador really has to leap to grab him, and Euforia is a crazy person for catching something that far. Awesome spot. Gran Guerrero and Roja mix it up most of the match, and GG has really improved over the last 6 months. He's acting like a real violent rudo, and I'd love a mask match between the two. Everybody in this match busted ass and made this thing pop. Nothing better than some young guys showing star power, and old guys showing they still belong.

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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Mil Muertes is Not an Apostle But He'll Bring the Axe to Your Back

Mil Muertes v. Pentagon Dark Lucha Underground 10/23/16 - FUN

This was a state fair streetfight and was worked kind of like an ECW house show brawl. Lots of chairshots and garbage can shots, I could see this kind of thing being really fun to watch at State Fair in between Demolition Derby's and a 38 Special Concert. There was one awesome spot where Pentagon tried a top rop diving arm drag and Muertes just caught him mid air and powered out of it. Muertes also threw some of his driving power punches. Still this was mostly D-Von Dudley v. Tommy Dreamer in 1999.

Mil Muertes v. Ramses Lucha Libre Presenta 5/7/17 - SKIPPABLE

Sometimes while surfing the internet you come across a random looking cool match, that is the beauty of Youtube, stuff just shows up. sometime you find gems, sometimes you find a Canal Street Rolex shiny on the surface, but then you notice the second hand doesn't move smoothly. Silver King under a mask v. Mil Muertes looks like a fun match, haven't seen much Silver King recently, but he is a guy I loved back in the WCW days. Unfortunately Silver King looks washed, and Mil was on house show duty. There were some nice punches by Mil, but Ramses couldn't get off of his feet for throws, and there was a bunch of heel ref nonsense. Not worth much.


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Friday, July 28, 2017

There Are Diabolicos Matches Online That I Haven't Watched

Romano Garcia/Mr. Condor is one of my absolute favorite luchadors, yet most of his matches that turn up online are highlights. The highlights always look great, but are just cruel tastes. Well, I saw that there were a couple full Diabolicos matches that I missed from 2015, so let's dive in!

Romano Garcia/Gallego/Rocky Santana vs. Dante/Euro/Filder (AULL 4/19/15)

ER: Tecnicos team is made of three perfectly cromulent guys that I've never seen before, and who I won't actively seek out again. This is really more of a showcase for Los Diabolicos. Gallego is the youngest of the bunch, and he's 50. Garcia is almost 60 and Rocky is into his 60s. And they're all impossibly smooth and it still amazes me how ageless so many luchadors are. For the most part they match up as Rocky/Euro, Gallego/Dante and Garcia/Filder, and all segments are worth watching. Santana and Gallego break out some smooth maestro matwork, and it's noticeable how differently old luchadors move, how they take armdrags a little differently, how they transition on the mat differently. Santana and Euro work some really nice wristlock sequences and work up to snug headlock takeovers and headscissors, all with Santana moving like a guy half his age. Gallego works a lot of neat standing exchanges with Dante, more leveraged wristlock takedowns. Garcia is really great at fast rope exchanges, quick armdrag, headscissor, hiptoss and legsweep counters, always brings violent snap to rote lucha spots. Santana is still impressively graceful for a man who would be eligible for social security, still pulling off rope flip armdrags while getting 15% discounts on Tuesdays at Ross Dress for Less, I really loved his "missed punch flip bump", another example of an old-style lucha bump that you don't see much anymore. Things get a little messy when everybody gets in the ring, but we build to a big double dive by Filder and Dante, with Gallego eating a great Filder dive and Garcia throwing Dante in midair right into the barricade in nasty fashion. Match was unica caida for whatever reason, but I really dug all of what we got. It's crazy how these old guys can still go.

Romano Garcia/Gallego/Rocky Santana vs. Coco Rojo/Coco Verdes/Coco Rojo Jr. (AULL 5/30/15)

ER: Ahhhh, lucha clowns, one of my least favorite things in lucha. They usually aren't good at wrestling, they're usually slow and fat, they're never funny and often don't even try to be, and really if you're a clown who's not good at your craft in any way, then why have you even made this life choice? All of us have myriad life failures, but at least the majority of us don't fail while also wearing grease paint, a yarn wig and giant toddler clothing. It's one thing to fail, it's another to look every bit the part of a failure while failing. So you get a great team in Los Diabolicos basically spending the whole time armdragging themselves, setting up everything, while a couple fat clowns constantly pull their yarn wig out of their eyes while wearing shitty sherbet colored baggy clothes. The segunda ends with Gallego standing around for an eternity while Coco Rojo Jr. literally falls off the top rope, then gets back up only to do his lousy body press. It's okay, because as this was happening Coco Verde was taking an eternity to lock Santana into a submission. Diabolicos try to add some little things: Garcia whips his head into the ringpost when getting thrown into it, Santana takes a couple nice pratfall bumps including a great faceplant with him holding his mouth afterwards...but man Los Payasos stink.

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Thursday, July 27, 2017

2017 Ongoing MOTY List: Traumas v. Terry/Diablo

43. Black Terry/Diablo Jr. v. Los Traumas IWRG 4/23

ER: I really liked this match and I actually watched it twice. It had some subtle little things that kept grabbing at me and made me want to revisit it immediately. Diablo has improved a lot (I don't ever remember him being bad, but he also has never been on my radar like this year) and his mat stuff against T2 is all good. He hangs in and they each work some twisty leg subs, and then T2 does a painful double chickenwing. My favorite stuff was when they do some neat twists on traditional armdrags, with Diablo whiffing on one when T2 holds the ropes, and then Diablo trying to catch one of T2's so T2 alters to a head drag, really cool stuff. I dug how Terry came in and got tapped quick, requiring Diablo to get back in a try to hang with a fresh T1, who locks on his nasty whipping figure 4. Segunda is quick but it happened right after Traumas spent way too long firing up the crowd with bullhorns, Diablo and Terry hanging around looking like assholes waiting for them to stop patting themselves on the back, so Diablo rushing in, hits a leg drag, and locks on some awesome and vicious cross arm twisting armbar, like an arm version of T1's figure 4. T2 sells it like his shoulders are disconnected. Diablo needs Terry to focus up in the tercera, and after some nice brawling and Diablo hitting a coconuts flip dive into T1/the railing, Terry and T1 finally commence beating the hell out of each other, with Terry destroying him with headbutts. I'm really liking this Terry/Diablo team, really liked the unique structure of this tag.

PAS: This was really fun, IWRG has had a good under the radar year (which is really our fault, if anyone is going to pimp IWRG it's us) and the Terry/Diablo team is a big part of it. Diablo looked perfectly competent working the mat with T2 and even added his own flourish or two. Highlight of the match was the first couple of minutes of the third fall where it spills to the floor and we get to see Terry get gritty. Terry and Trauma 1 really lace into each other with chops and headbutts, while T2 gets vaguely unprofessional with Diablo Jr. The finish of the third fall wasn't as violent as I was hoping as it got down to T1 and Terry again and they wrestled instead of murdering each other. Still this was good stuff and part of another top 10 in the world year from the legitimately ageless Black Terry.


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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

2017 Ongoing MOTY List: Rejects v. Rejects

Devil's Rejects (Tank/Iceberg) v. Devil's Rejects (Seven/Brad Cash) Anarchy 5/27

PAS: 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.

ER: Pretty impossible to dislike a bunch of big dudes (a couple bigger than the others) tossing soup bones at jaw bones. Honestly I could have just watched everybody punch the whole time, didn't even need the chairs to get over the violence of it all. One minute in and you have Iceberg backing Se7en into the corner with sick shots and I was 100% sold from there. Everybody just clubs each other in the face, we don't even need tons of big bumps, so the bumps we do get really resonate: Se7en gets tossed through a couple chairs, Iceberg bumps to the floor, Tank does a painful and accurate cannonball, all awesome moments. I really liked the finish and agree with Phil that it's a hard finish to pull off, but I thought it looked really good. I especially liked Tank mixing up shots and tossing in nasty headbutts. Fun stuff, and Tank/Iceberg remain eminently watchable.


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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

CWF Mid-Atlantic Worldwide Episode 108

Episode 108

1. Dirty Daddy vs. Ethan Alexander Sharpe

ER: I swear Sharpe is the most featured guy on these episodes. But this was pretty easily my favorite actual match involving him. He viciously choked Daddy in the ropes, dropped an elbow right on Daddy's face, finished the match with a pretty great powerbomb out of the corner (with tights grab), looked overall like a great conniving heel. Phil has pointed out before that Daddy is a great throwback babyface, and that was on display here. He's good at keeping people interested in chinlocks, great at little comebacks, sold his jaw great throughout, nice corner punches, etc. Match was short but accomplished a good amount in that time. Fun match.

PAS: Sharpe's gimmick is that he is a money mark, and it makes sense a money mark would be on most shows. This was by far the best EAS match, I though he actually looked really good here, I loved his diving cut block to take control, and he was really vicious here, mule kick to the jaw, elbow to the face, arm trap neckbreaker. I liked the idea of Dirty Daddy selling his jaw, he does a nice job, and the commentary team does a nifty job explaining it, Cecil Scott talks about how a broken jaw can lead to a build up of saliva is a nice bit of Gorilla Moonsoon style fake medical bullshit.

2. KL3 vs. "The Filmmaker" Movie Myk

ER: KL3 is another guy I'm seeing for the first time, and another guy I came away impressed by. I liked several of his strikes, one of the few guys with a nice superman punch that I've seen. I don't totally get the "Filmmaker" gimmick, if it's a Damien Sandow acting out roles in mid-match kind of thing, or what. If that's the case it feels slightly underbaked and Myk seems talented enough to not need it. But that said, I do like the manager using a clapperboard and yelling ACTION when Myk rolls back in the ring. It also kind of broke my heart that there was seemingly no reaction for KL3 chopping the ring post. Even though it's been done a lot on the indies it's still a spot that makes my arm hairs stand up, ever since the first time I saw it happen to Stan Hansen of all people. Are people that over it?

PAS: I thought KL3 looked pretty bad, outside of that nice superman punch, his other strikes were either too pulled, or super leg slappy and he looked a little awkward running the ropes and getting into position for stuff. I guess Myk putting on a Batman mask was a taunt, as the announcers said KL3 was inspired by the Dark Knight (not sure what that means), but I can't imagine anyone knowing that unless they deep dive students of the angles of the George South wrestling school. This was two rookies, which forgives a lot, still not sure why you would put basically a training match on your TV show.

3. Cain Justice vs. Ric Converse

ER: Goddamn Ric Converse is good. He's an alternate timeline Tommy Dreamer, if Dreamer had been a dad bod everyman steeped in contractor work and well meaning evangelical Protestantism instead of a dad bod sad sack steeped in wrestling fandom and NE Catholic shame. He's a big guy who isn't going to skimp on satisfying little things like stomach kicks. His little things look exactly as they intend: A stomach kick will bend you at the waist, a chop will fire up every nerve ending, his lariats cut low, and an elbow will send you sideways. Cain is a real bump freak and seeing him go down like a shot from an elbow, get knocked sideways on a lariat or bump a DDT off the side of his head is a real treat. I loved the reversals out of Converse's spinning slam finisher, Cain grabbing ropes on one of them and grabbing an arm on the other; one of the reversals lead to Converse hitting possibly the greatest rydeen bomb ever performed. Cain doesn't get his head whipped into the canvas, he lands flat as a pancake, and it looked like a guy doing a swan dive off a hotel roof. Cain has something real organic and unique about him, and Converse is an incredibly welcome throwback. Both are gems.

PAS: I also really enjoyed this match, but thought Cain was the real standout. Converse is fun, but some of his stuff looks a little dated, that spinning slam finisher is a throwback NOVA invention. Cain was awesome in his approach to it though, he found a bunch of different ways to avoid it and counter it before finally getting caught, if you treat something like a death move and it doesn't really matter what the move is. I also really liked all of Justice's stooging, he is like John Tatum if Tatum was a killer on the mat. We didn't really see any shoot matwork from Cain here, but I did love him grounding Converse with knee work, those nasty punches to the patella are things you don't see most wrestlers do.

4. Roy Wilkins vs. Snooty Foxx

ER: I...LOVED this. This was amazing. When I saw the file was at the 31 minute mark and it was the last match on a 53 minute show I immediately thought "How are these two going to fill 22 minutes??" Well, they did it. This is a double or nothing match, where Snooty put up $1,000 and Coach Gemini put up $1,000, and it's winner take all. We start with 7 minutes of minimalist work, stretching things out, both men being careful with a 1K gain or loss staring at them, working headlocks, working go behinds, getting the feel for things. My brain loves minimalism. I own Tony Conrad albums. I've watched Chantal Akerman films. I've seen Rhys Chatham live. Shoot I was actually at the Danielson/Castagnoli headlock match live! Now I'm not saying that a loose Snooty Fox headlock is tantamount to Jeanne Dielman washing dishes or peeling potatoes, but their opening work had me hypnotized. They spill to the floor and Wilkins slams Fox back first into the apron a couple times, and Snooty sells it like a guy who twisted wrong while loading luggage at his airport job. At the 7 minute mark Snooty hits an all time great flying back elbow, just leveling Wilkins. And from there, these two proceed to craft a perfectly paced, perfectly built, simple classic.

This felt like a lost Brad Armstrong/Arn Anderson match from Saturday Night. No, Wilkins ain't Arn, and Snooty ain't Brad, and sometimes their execution is lacking (Wilkins whiffing on some punches, Fox leaning away from a shining wizard), but all the pieces were there and they both knew when to hit for maximum reaction. Coach's interference was great, Snooty had some great nearfalls, Wilkins takes a bulldog as nasty as possible...but before long Wilkins wins with Gemini holding down Snooty's legs...and the fans flip the hell out. You know earlier when I mention how great a babyface Dirty Daddy is? He turns in maybe his finest performance yet, charging in from the back to get the fans even more riled up, motherfucker came out and RESISTED and the fans saw that there was ACTUALLY a chance to get this decision overturned. The people have the power and more and more of the fans rise up to demand justice, and Redd Jones rings for that damn bell! At that point it was like the 2004 Red Sox coming back from 3 games to 0. Once they beat the Yankees, there was no way they were losing another game that postseason. Fox has the people behind him, and his eventual win is academic. He gets that clear plastic case filled with money (a perfect prop, hats off to whoever found that), and he and Dirty celebrate holding that money, and all I can think is "Motherfucker OPEN THAT CASE"....and then they open that fucking case.

It's amazing. You've all been bored to tears when a wrestler plays the "loudest side gets a local radio station t-shirt thrown at them" game. It's terrible. Well watching Snooty grab a handful of bills out of that case and walk slowly around the ring, those same people that cheered passionately for the restart, cheered twice as wildly for free money! They throw some actual money, people lose it like they were on Oprah's Greatest Things, Arik Royal runs out to steal the case, and then....and then....Royal stops near the entrance curtain, with the money...and he does the Heisman pose. End scene. This felt like a match Lawler would have worked in a high school in 1989, if Lawler was allowed to step foot on any high school's property. Snooty got over how important that $1,000 was to him, Wilkins and crew were great slimes, and Snooty is a tremendous babyface. They hit all the right moves, and while it wasn't always pretty, it was effective as hell.

PAS: I thought Eric had to be overselling this match to me when he described it over the phone, but man alive did this live up to his hype. This match is a testament to the value of a crowd which is wholly invested in the outcome of a match rather then the performance. This wasn't a crowd who was ready to see a pair of dudes have a classic match, they wanted to see their hometown guy take out some dastardly cheating jerks. This was a sports crowd not an entertainment crowd, and it really made the match. The NBA finals wouldn't nearly be as fun if the Golden State fans chanted "This is Awesome" during a Kyrie Irving crossover.

Snooty execution isn't all the way there, but he has great babyface timing and charisma, he is a star in Chapel Hill and he conducted himself like a star with all of his big moves feeling like big moves. That tope rope axehandle to the floor taking out the All Stars felt like a bigger deal then any crazy dive I have seen this year. Wilkins is a tremendous short cut wrestler, he is really sold big on commentary as a technical master, but he works differently then a guy like Dean Malenko. Wilkins is less about complex holds and counters, and more about mastering timing and ring placement. He is great at luring Foxx into making a mistake and capitalizing on it. Wilkins starts his long section on top, by reversing an Irish whip into a hot shot, and has multiple other cool counters. Cecil Scott calls him the Floyd Mayweather of wrestling and it is a great analogy, because just like Floyd he is primarily a counter puncher, waiting for his opponent to make a mistake and then punishing him (also I totally believe that if Floyd could get away with it he would have Leonard Ellerbe on the outside of the ring tripping his opponents and cheap shotting them). False finish here was great with Snooty ready to make his big move, the grab of the foot and the killer shining wizard kill shot. Totally perfect heel win for this match, only made better by the restart.

All of the BS in this match is tremendous too, Dirty Daddy coming out and imploring the crowd to right the wrong, throwing the money to the crowd, the look on Royal's smug face as he heisman poses with the stolen clear box of cash, A+ wrestling horseshit.

ER: I thought for sure I oversold that Snooty/Wilkins match to Phil. I was flipping out while watching it, and as I was talking to him I was thinking "Pump the brakes, easssssy, slow it down" but I couldn't help it, I loved the match too much.

PAS: We went ahead and added Foxx v. Wilkins super high on our 2017 Ongoing MOTY List.

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Monday, July 24, 2017

Lucha Worth Watching: CMLL as Late 80s NWA

Blue Panther/Soberano Jr./Diamante Azul vs. Sam Adonis/Negro Casas/Dragon Rojo Jr. (CMLL 7/14/17)

ER: Well this starts with some great chaos. Sam Adonis is packing on the pounds and he's wearing a Love Machine mask and going right after Panther. He hits a big boot on the floor and then punches BP in the back of the head, fishhooks him, and eventually shoves Tirantes for the DQ. A commissioner gets in Adonis' face to remove the mask that's not his identity, and this commissioner with his ponytail, working goatee and nice fitting suit is a classic "guy I would not make eye contact with". Adonis throws meaty chops and I love Panther going after him and clotheslining him into the crowd. Rojo Jr. hits a nasty double stomp off the top, and Azul press slams his own boy into Casas/Rojo, and this match is a lot more gritty than I expected. Casas and Soberano have a nice standoff, with Casas putting over Soberano's power by getting shoved hard into and through the ropes, and Casas pays him back with a hard shoulderblock. Azul grabs a snug headlock on Casas, drags Casas from the apron into the ring with that headlock, absorbs a bunch of shoulderblocks...and I kinda REALLY like Azul working as babyface Luger. Press slams, flexing, no selling heel strikes, he's kind of good at it. Azul is working as babyface Luger and Panther is working as Dusty and it's pretty great. Adonis is good at forcing the fight momentum into Tirantes, to distract BP, and I like Adonis' hooking punches to Panther's neck. Then we get Azul/Soberano's Fabulous Flying Azul's tumbling routine, with Soberano getting monkey flipped to the floor, and it's pretty great. This was a real simple but real effective trios. If I had known ahead of time that Casas would be the least involved member of this match, I would not have expected it to be this fun. I really want some more Adonis/Panther feud and more of 1990 babyface Azul.

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Sunday, July 23, 2017

WWE Battleground 2017 Live Blog

1. Aiden English vs. Tye Dillinger

ER: I really really like English, so I'm just happy he has a job and is showing up on a PPV in any way at all. I assume he's been showing up on some secondary Network only shows, I really should go through and just quickly write up any 2017 English matches. He's a great hand to have around as he knows how to stooge with early frustration, and the moment where he turns the tables always looks great. He gets cheap shots, because he makes his cheap shots look nasty. Most guys wouldn't use a stiff knee as a cheap shot. He also knows how to talk smack during a resthold. Dillinger's comeback is a little silly, he has one of those sets of moves that he has to hit in a specific order, but he throws a fine spinebuster and English knows how to whip into the mat on a spinebuster. And English somehow WINS!? That is wonderful. He does have a few stupid finishers that look like 2001 Edge offense, but that's okay because we usually go months without seeing his finisher.

2. Kofi Kingston/Xavier Woods vs. The Usos

ER: I don't recall seeing a version of New Day where Big E was on the floor and not in the match. Big E is like 85% of the reason to watch New Day matches. Not gonna lie though, I like New Day's American flag tights. They seem like an acid version of something that babyface Virgil would wear. There's a Network Error (first in a year plus) right when the Usos hit a double team backbreaker/axe handle on Woods, with Woods getting dumped on his head afterwards. I can only imagine they did a preemptive "Technical Issues - Please Stand By". Woods hits a nice missile dropkick and Jey bumps it great all the way across the ring. Kofi gets the hot tag and I have no clue what any of his moves are actually supposed to be. His delay clothesline looks even worse than normal, he does a leaping stomp that I only knew was a leaping stomp because an announcer called it that, he hits a punt from the apron with the biggest thigh slap you've seen. Kofi bums me out sometimes. We get some pretty great blocks on the floor from Usos, back in the ring and Woods is nuts enough to get slammed neck first into the buckles and take the alley oop Samoan drop. And then THAT superkick. Woods commits fully to a huge elbow drop and gets NAILED with a superkick on the way down. I cannot believe that was a 2 count. And then we get some more quite surprising 2 counts. This match is crazy as it was worked as a super traditional tag through the Kofi hot tag, and in traditional WWE tag structure which dictates the Usos would have won just a couple minutes after that Kofi hot tag. But then instead of the finish - the spot where the finish would have been in 95% of WWE tags - both teams just started breaking out their nastiest moves. Pretty awesome stretch run, and Xavier's elbow across the whole ring was highlight reel worthy. Both teams had some great misses to set up big moves by the opponents, and the switch getting flipped in the match was welcome.

3. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin

ER: This is a little slow to start, but willing to see where things go. The standing hammerlock spot didn't totally work, but I liked Nak flopping around for a big boot after. I like bearhug spots but for a match already being worked this slow, this probably wasn't the spot to do it. I do love that the crowd was chanting that Corbin sucks, so then he locked on the bearhug. Nak whiffs on a kick that gets sold, but some of his strikes in the corner look nice. Things snap awake when Corbin runs in with a huge lariat, Nak bumps it in appropriate ragdoll style. I always like Nak's grounded knee strikes, Nak hits a nasty axe kick to the back of Corbin's neck...and then Corbin goes low for the DQ. Well most of this was disappointing.

4. Becky Lynch vs. Tamina vs. Natalya vs. Lana vs. Charlotte

ER: Ahhhhh a match with 5 people in it, this should be terrible. Within 30 seconds of the match two of them have already disappeared despite taking next to no offense. Lana is great in one of those "not quite trained" kind of ways, so she's stomping uncomfortably on Charlotte's hamstrings and then drops an elbow that sees her hip land on Charlotte's face. And wow it took Lynch so long to get back into the match. These odd-person multimans are almost always so bad. Now everybody else completely disappears so Lynch and Charlotte can do things. Seriously where do they go? Do they lie on the floor and hug the apron so they don't show up on camera? Nattie and Charlotte always match up well, and I like the way Charlotte flies into her 360 clothesline. Lana has a proper flip out after only getting a 2 count, and Lana acting as a female John Tatum is the best. I also like how Tamina keeps saving Lana's butt (well, arm) from Lynch, but then Tamina gets eliminated first because Lana stays the hell out of it. BUT, then Lana gets eliminated right after, meaning the two of them have a long awkward walk to the back. I do hate the stupid traditional elimination match rules of all the eliminations bunching up within one minute of each other. It always happens, and it's always dumb. Natalya wins, because okay? "Incredible match" says the WWE announcer who may be Tom Phillips.  "Incredible movie, with an incredible woman," Tom Phillips says while walking out of Transformers: The Last Knight, accompanied by a woman who was set up with Tom through a mutual friend, moments before she tells him that she doesn't think a second date would be a good idea.

5. Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles

ER: Owens and Styles proceed to have a very Owens and Styles match, though the part in the first few minutes I actually like the most is Owens laying in a headlock. His smack talk during the headlock is great ("I can do this all day!") and a chubby guy lying down with a headlock always makes it look like the opponent is being smothered. So I don't know if I'm easily impressed, or what. AJ's post-headlock strikes looked good and the DDT on him looks good. Back to the headlock and I'm kinda sold. Styles does a great springboard 450 right into knees. Tom Phillips (?) almost completes bad announcer bingo when he states that Owens has bad intentions. JBL tries to save him by making an awesome historical leap, saying that AJ Styles attempted a torture rack and that Lex Luger was a long time US Champ. I absolutely love his attempt, as if these two were working a match as a historical road trip through the US title heritage. "Owens' misses a splash, much like former US Champ One Man Gang, following in the lineage of famous Canadian US Champ Roddy Piper!" Styles getting tossed into the ref looked great, and the ref does a great "struggle to pull myself up the ropes". Nobody could possibly be excited about that finish. Styles sells his loss like someone who is forced to wait slightly longer than normal for the valet to get his car.

6. Flag Match: Rusev vs. John Cena

ER: Big fan of the country-specific flag stands in the entrance way. I love how these two match up, so regardless of the stip I'm interested in what they can do. And I already like Rusev clonking Cena with fists to head, and Rusev taking a bulldog off the top. Crowd is already really quiet for a Cena match. Rusev looks to be in really great shape, maybe #bestshapeofhislife!? To build off a reference from last match, this match feels like a Hogan vs. One Man Gang house show match so far, but probably not as good. We just hit the Hulk up lariat comeback, only it's shoulderblocks and the blue thunder bomb. I want some flag-related violence, guys!! Both guys are working really slow. Either the show was going short and they got told to stretch it out, or....Okay I have no "or". They're still doing the big spots (Cena getting caught in a powerbomb while trying the legdrop off the top was pretty dangerously messy), just a lot more time in between those spots. It's oddly jarring after Cena spent last year working PWG homage matches. This is really being stretched. I like Rusev attempting to AA Cena off his American Flag platform. That's the most insulting way to pull off the "use opponent's finisher" trope. Rusev beats Cena with the flag holder, and somehow knowing the flag holders aren't bolted down CHANGES EVERYTHING. Seriously, this match would have been 100% 6 1/2 star glorious bullshit if the whole match had been based around Rusev just destroying Cena's flag stand/holder, eliminating the only way that Cena could win the match. Start the match with one chairshot to give Rusev a headstart on destroying the stand, then base the whole thing on Rusev just trying to dispatch Cena so he can wreck a flag holder. If you want to work comedy into it, you can even have Rusev try hiding the flag holder a couple times. Have him through it into the WWE UNIVERSE behind his back, oooooooo or have him lock it in a box!!!

7. Mike Kanellis vs. Sami Zayn

ER: Oh my god if Rusev had locked that flag holder in a giant, comical crate, I would have lost my shit. Match starts, Rusev immediately jumps out of the ring and begins rummaging around under the ring. Camera cuts to Cena doing his typically great incredulous face, hands on hips, motioning to some random guy in the crowd who he didn't actually make eye contact with but 35 people in that section will later claim that Cena was "looking right at them!" "What is Rusev looking for!?" and then Rusev pulls out a Masterlock, pauses, looks up at a quizzical Cena across the ring...and sprints down the aisle to the flag holder. He grabs that flag holder, keeps running to the back, a camera is already there waiting, anticipating Rusev running around back there because this shit is fake and was scripted out way in advance, and Rusev pulls out this GIANT crate, covered in chains, and maybe even a comically stenciled "This End Up" painted on the side, and you KNOW that shit is painted on upside down. Rusev tosses that holder in the crate, locks up up tight, and then shoves that crate back in the middle of 20 other crates that look EXACTLY like that crate, pulling a full blown Raiders of the Lost Ark on Cena. NOT ONE PERSON EVER MENTIONS "Um, why didn't Cena just grab his own flag and steal Rusev's flag holder while Rusev was taking 15 minutes to hide a crate within a bunch of other crates?" Nobody ever says that. Because people aren't total shitheads who just exist to ruin somebody else's good time. Everybody just lets people enjoy the things however they like. I like Mike Kannelis's tights. They're like beta cuck Rick Rude tights. The "M+M Forever" is totally in the H&M font. But they're great fucking tights. Helluva kick to finish looks like something that should finish this match.

8. Punjabi Prison Match: Jinder Mahal vs. Randy Orton

ER: Okay, so no matter how we feel about this match, everybody knows that the name Punjabi Prison is an all time great jingoistic fear mongering pro wrestling match title. I remember - because of pro wrestling - asking my dad what was so bad about a Mexican Prison. Somebody must have made a reference to it as an "ultimate threat" and my dad actually answered it!! My dad totally worked me and immediately said that they fed you rotten food, and when you refuse to eat it, they bring back the exact same food the next day, and now it's a day older! Punjabi Prison would have probably blown my mind if I had heard that term at age 7. And the set looks spectacular, like a gorgeous Apocalypse Now prop. I should have listened to the stipulations of this fucking match instead of typing all of that. Escape rules? We'll go with escape rules. I wonder how many households have someone, watching this PPV tonight, who made some sort of joke like "I wish they would throw Barry Hussein and Killary into a Punjabi Prison. They'd probably like that." I'm setting the line at 170 households have "that guy" tonight. You take the over or under? Jinder throws a nice back elbow. A guy can go pretty far in my book if they throw a nice back elbow.

"Hey John, you've been in all kinds of structural matches..." is such a great start to a sentence. You know he liked it, because he stopped it once and started it again. I can't blame him, it's a great line. You picture Lance Russell saying that line, and it all clicks, so give credit to whoever said that (it wasn't JBL, it was one of the other 7 white guys they have sitting out there with him). This stipulation match is silly but I'm kinda loving it. Orton struggling to slowly get to one of the doors, as the timer is counting down, and once the timer hits 0 the ref drops the rope holding the door open, and it slides shut? That's awesome. I did pick up that there were 4 doors, and they close as the match goes on, making for less escape options. God I would love to see Low-Ki climb out of this nasty looking thing. You know he could do it. that guy would scramble out of the first one and then leap to the outer one, and it would look amazing. Randy disappoints me by not letting one of the doors drop guillotine style on his arm or neck. That would be a great KO blow visual, a door dropping on a guy's head like Luke dropping a spiked gate on the Rancor in Return of the Jedi. Jinder continues showing off those back elbows, nailing Orton in the gut while they both climb the outer prison wall. We get a lot of climbing related spots, and with the Singhs around they find a couple interesting things to do. Man that Singh bump is brutal, especially when you see the angle with his legs facing the camera. You really get a sense for how fast the human head whips back when you see that angle of the table bump.  And GREAT KHALI comes back!!! AND THEY MAKE HIM CLIMB PART OF THE CAGE!! Orton does a lot of great falling off the cage teases, and Khali grabs him by the throat and Orton dangles in a great theatrical way. Jinder wins, Tom Phillips COMPLETES HIS BAD ANNOUNCER BINGO CARD by dropping several "Not like this! Not like this!" on us. You did it buddy. JBL gets amusingly crossed up and calls Khali "a true giant". "THAT, son, is a true giant. Not like those two children wearing a giant trenchcoat that you previously thought was a giant." I don't actually know if this match is 1 star or 6 stars.

ER: This was a PPV with almost no good matches, yet I had kind of a blast watching this show. Maybe the heat has made me delusional, but the bad was always amusing. I thought the tag match was really good, liked the Aiden English pre-show match, and disliked the rest. But somehow had fun watching all of it. Best Bad PPV?

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Saturday, July 22, 2017

2016 Ongoing MOTY List: Ki/Cide (and Joker) v. DHS in a Cage!

4. Low-Ki/Homicide/Joker v. Da Hit Squad JAPW 11/12

PAS: Wild bloody brawl with the Boricua Four Horsemen trying to murder each other. The match starts with Cide (in old school Natural Born Killaz jumpsuit) and Ki (in his Hitman suit) coming out and getting jumped in the aisle by the Hit Squad. We have a bit of really great crowd brawling, including Homicide busting open Maff with Harley Race style knuckle punches (the camera really focused on Maff and Cide, but in the corner of your eye you could see Ki and Mack brutalizing each other, I really wish I had the alternate view as well). Homicide takes a big bump into the stairs and stays down, while Hit Squad throws Ki into the cage and double teams him. Joker comes out from the back and takes Cide's place in the cage match (not sure if this was an improv, or a planned spot to work around a previous injury). The in the cage parts of the match were really great too, with Ki taking a huge thrown belly to belly bump into the side of the cage and doing some crazy Kung Fu avoidance spots. Finish of this was nutso Maff spears Joker through the cage door nearly killing them both, Cide runs back out to start brawling with Kyle the Beast and they bump the cage causing Ki to crotch himself on the top. Then Maff climbs back into the cage and DHS hits a double splash off the top rope smushing Ki like a wine grape. Best match I have seen these two teams have, and a total under the radar MOTY candidate.

ER: Fully agree with Phil, this is the best match with this combination of guys. This was a full on violence spectacle, and it was glorious. The way it was going, this would have easily made list if they had never made it into the cage, as we get some inspired ringside brawling. Ki immediately gets plastered hard into the barricade, Maff gets busted up, Mack takes a nice running shot into the ringpost, Homicide gets tossed into the barricade, it's all great (and yes, an alternate view would be great in any Low-Ki multiman). Mack tosses Ki into the side of the cage, but since he's basically Spider-Man he just grabs the side of the cage and scrambles up to the top in about 2 seconds. Sometimes Ki moves so freakishly that he feels like an alien in a sci-fi movie trying to blend in with humans. Eventually a detective figures it out, and there's always that scene where they go "There he is! Grab him!" And that's when Low-Ki the alien just leaps up the side of a building leaving all the authorities looking like idiots. After wrestling Low-Ki just needs to start getting motion capture movie gigs that Andy Serkis doesn't have time to do. Ki gets into the cage (again, impossibly quick), but Homicide gets laid out with a nasty bump into the stairs, and DHS get in the ring and corner Ki. But then Ki breaks out some insane moves, including sliding over Maff's back like Luke Duke sliding over the hood of the General Lee (Maff not *quite* the size of the General) to deliver a sliding kick to Mack. The announcers scream that it's like a freaking action movie, and they're not wrong. Joker runs in, and he and Ki have a contest to see who can take nastier in ring bumps, with Ki getting lawn darted into the cage, Joker taking a flipping backpack cannonball into the buckles (!), Ki getting belly to belly suplexed upside down grossly into the cage...and then Joker officially winning their contest by get speared to his certain death out the cage door. Spot of the year? It's up there. The whole thing is chaos. Ki gets crotched on the top of the cage, Mack ends up perched dangerously on the top, Maff climbs over impressively fast, and the double splash from those two is a certain finisher. Crazy, great match from four indy legends.


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Friday, July 21, 2017

2017 Ongoing MOTY List: Samoa Joe v. Still Another Samoan Named Joe

16. Samoa Joe v. Roman Reigns WWE Raw 7/17/17

ER: These two can basically do no wrong at this point. With the Brock match and this one I'm loving Joe's new tactic of swarming guys in the corner with punches and knees, and soon Roman's ear is getting introduced unpleasantly to his shoulder. Roman gets a nice comeback and hits some of the best standing corner clotheslines, just swinging right at Joe's neck. Joe bails to the floor, Roman chases, and - in one of my favorite spots of the year - Joe crushes Reigns with a lariat as he goes for the drive-by. Roman bumps it on the apron, which is ironically a safer bump than if he had taken a lariat bump on the floor, but it looked far more devastating on the apron. Back in the ring and the pace keeps up, Reigns drops a Samoan with a Samoan drop, Joe lands more big knees, Reigns hits a killer superman punch that is made even better by Joe, bumping it off to the side like a car flipping over due to overcorrecting. At this point, if you were getting sick of huge dudes beating on each other (you weren't), Braun comes out and then we get THREE dudes beating on each other. Braun hits spinebusters and powerslams and you KNOW you're excited for the 4 way. For a match you knew wasn't going to get a clean finish, having a bunch of huge dudes throw each other around while a giant bearded man screams is about the best non-finish we could have hoped for. Awesome stuff all around.

PAS: I really like this match-up and I am hoping they get to do a big PPV main event at some point. I am shocked at how well Joe is being used and is performing in the WWE. This is pretty close to what Michrome and GregH would have fantasy booked for Joe in 2005. He isn't the third member of 3 Minute Warning he is being presented like a dominant bad ass who refuses to back down and seems to be close to prime in ring form (especially now he isn't being saddled with twinks like Balor and Rollins). This was big boy stuff, lots of thudding forearms, sharp kicks and big punches.I loved the drive-by cutoff, one of the cooler spots of the year and totally fitting with both guys. You knew that there was going to be a BS finish, but what an awesome BS finish, any combo of these 4 guys is great, and I honestly can't remember the last time any fed had four great big heavyweights like this matching up (Dr. Death, One Man Gang, Gordy and DiBiase? DiBiase wasn't that big)


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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Last Gleaming Glimpse of Gable?

So American Alpha has been broken up, so that the member of AA who nobody actually remembers watching can have a soon-to-be-failed singles push. Gable will no doubt also flounder, though perhaps we may see him fight Tye Dillinger on an upcoming PPV pre-show. I'm not too optimistic we'll be seeing anything of interest from either going forward, so I thought I'd showcase the last fun Gable match, which feels like the last time he'll be treated any kind of special:

Kevin Owens v. Chad Gable (WWE Smackdown 6/20/17)

American Alpha hasn't been on TV in a couple months at this point, so when Gable came out as an open challenge opponent for Owens I wasn't expecting a whole lot. Then Gable starts throwing go behind takedowns and it becomes impossible to not get into it. This was a real fun style clash with Owens trying to smash Gable while Gable threw him with pint size strength. Gable bumps big and misses hard, really makes Owens look like Godzilla, crashing and burning to the floor and into the barricade, scrambling out of the way of a cannonball to hit a huge chaos theory suplex; Owens does exasperated bully really well here, loved when he kicked the middle rope while Gable's neck was resting on it, and this was certainly one of his better pop up powerbombs. I always like open challenge as a match set-up, but the matches usually fall short; this one delivered a nice compact explosion. It's 7 minutes, nothing major, but managed to make Gable look like a potential threat. Maybe I'm wrong and they'll give him something interesting to do. But until further notice, this match feels like the lat glimpse of what could have been.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

2017 Ongoing MOTY List: Ki v. Dutt

4. Low-Ki vs. Sonjay Dutt Impact Wrestling Slammiversary 7/2

ER: 2017 continues to bring Low-Ki matches on the reg, so after all these years TNA has done something right! This wasn't totally worked like a 2/3 falls match, but I liked the way the pinfalls were integrated into it, and how the mandatory ref count after a pinfall allowed them to eat pins and not have to keep wrestling the next second (always a psych quandary). They start with a lot of lock-ups and some solid grappling, always like bridge up spots, liked Dutt going for a kind of nasty crossface, not the opening I expected. The first fall comes when Ki takes a sunset flip power bomb and comes right up in one motion stomping through Dutt's chest. I usually dislike when a top rope rana or powerbomb is "rolled through" like that, as it never looks like anybody rolled through, just looks like a guy took the move and then decided to do his own move anyway. And this looked like Ki got hit with a bomb, but was also seamlessly able to stomp a hole in Dutt's chest. Dutt smartly starts the segunda by throwing Ki to the floor using his own momentum, and both guys take turns seeing who can bump more violently into the guardrail (it was a tie, for our benefit!). Ki misses a stomp and I like how they established that Ki stomping on Dutt as hard as possible is okay on his ankles, but landing on the mat was too hard. It's silly, but within its own universe. Ki misses a huge stomp onto the ring steps which leads to Dutt overshooting an ill-advised moonsault but Ki makes it look like a nasty Russian legsweep into the rail. Finish to the second is a good one, with Ki locking on a dragon sleeper, only to have Dutt flip into a pinfall for a sneaky win. Ki nails another stomp after Dutt monkey flips him into the buckles (I love spots where Ki gets thrown into something and he just holds on), but eventually Dutt hits his own disgusting stomp, a moonsault that lands him feet first into Ki's ribs. Suitable finish for a quality match.

PAS: I thought this was excellent, a candidate for best TNA match ever. Ki is on a decades long roll, but I thought Sonjay really stepped it up too.  Dutt really flung his body around on bumps, the Ki John Woo dropkick is a cool spot, but Dutt flew off it like he was hit by a trolley car. I loved how the match was built around the danger of the double stomp, it added a structure to the match. Ki winning the first fall by the roll through double stomp, him torching his ankle on the missed in ring double stomp and missed double stomp on the steps (and it makes perfect sense that you would hurt your ankle when you miss, but not when you hit, ankle turns are all about landing where you don't expect to, Eric would know this if he had ever done anything athletic in his life), and finally Dutt winning with the old Hikakari Fukaoka moonsault double stomp (which is especially nasty when done by a guy Dutt's size, Dutt isn't big, but Fukaoka was like 110 pounds and it still looked like she liquefied the guts of anyone she landed on.) Ki would also lay in nasty body shots to cut off Dutt, which made total sense as your body has to be damaged from getting stomped on.  The whole thing felt like a the wrestling equivalent of a Julio Cesear Chavez fight, killing the body so head would die.

ER: First, I did competitive amateur dog dancing through my teens; Second, I have it on good authority that Phil has no idea how to leave his feet. I have an eye witness that gave me a hilarious account of him on a trampoline; Third, I still maintain that landing on an uneven, boney man will more likely lead to a rolled ankle than unexpectedly landing on a flat surface. But considering I know two people who ended up in a boot just from stepping off a curb, ankles are essentially looking for any opportunity to stab us in the back. I said the logic worked within the universe it created, and it does.


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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

2017 Ongoing MOTY List: C.W. v. Wayne

41. C.W. Anderson v. Damien Wayne AML 2/25

ER: Dig this handheld slab from North Carolina, filmed from the back row, which only makes some of these shots even crazier when they look this nasty from this far away. CW is wearing his great glow in the dark C W hands singlet, with matching neon green elbow pad, Wayne has bulked up a bit,  and both guys aim to bruise jaws and throw worked punches of pure poetry. There are dictionary examples of "Worked overhand right" and "Worked left hook" from Wayne and Anderson, respectively, but this match is more than that. These two lay their shots in all the way to the back row, which makes their ringside brawling seem far more violent and less like an easy way to pop a crowd.
Sadly, due to the handheld we miss a lot of what appears to be CW being thrown into the guardrail, hopping over it, and then elbowing Wayne as he charges in. But everything we do see is 100% gold. We get Wayne dropping a couple of his big legs (including that one from the top to the apron which is still one of the crazier spots in wrestling), CW's big spinebuster, a great spinebuster reversal, CW sneaking in a couple cut-off headbutts that I don't remember seeing him use before, and some fun bullshit around the finish. The ref takes a tremendous bump and the typical late 90s ref finish is given a new coat of paint by two guys who actually understand the timing of such a spot, and a ref with a death wish taking a big bump to the floor. Big thanks to whomever was standing in the back of this room with a camcorder. You're the real hero.

PAS: This was a match of two absolute pros putting together a match that they must have had 200 times. This feels like a house show match from an alternate time line where Jim Crockett Promotions just kept running into 2017.  The ringside brawling looked really great from what we saw of it, one advantage of having elite punches like both guys have, is that you can always go back to a slugfest and make it compelling. Damien Wayne had got to be in his 40s now and still is doing insane legdrops to the apron, how is his tailbone not rice crispies? I thought the ref bump looked great, but the finish was kind of BS. Wayne was working heel the whole match, and then gets two long visual falls on the babyface? Was there some double turn I missed? Despite the goofus finish (man 2017 get your shit together) this was really fun. I wish I had every North Carolina indy version of this match up, I am sure they are all awesome.


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Monday, July 17, 2017

CWF Mid-Atlantic Worldwide Episode 107

Episode 107

1. Aric Andrews vs. Chet Sterling

ER: I thought this was a much better showing than their match on the Saturday night show. Sterling certainly looked better here and things were a bit more evenly paced. I thought Sterling looked pretty bad last match, and here he was back to the level where my brain typically slots him, so we'll call that one a low outlier for now. Andrews is a tall lanky guy (not sure he's quite 6'6" as Stutts says...) and I like how he looks when taking armdrags and such, those long legs flipping all around. Really liked him catching Sterling in a wild powerslam, and the finish was cool with Sterling faking him out on a blockbuster before actually hitting it.

PAS: This was a lot better then their previous match. I thought Andrews was totally great here, I loved his body work, including some of the nastier pro-wrestling body shots I can remember seeing. I loved that powerslam, Andrews had Sterling hooked in the middle of the rotation so he was fully rolled up. I also loved the commentary on this match, where both guys were concerned that Sterling wasn't sweating enough, which might be a sign of dehydration, just a great example of how Stuttsy and Cecil add to a match.

2. Arik Royal vs. Nick Richards

ER: This started off plenty fun, and things really ramped up for me once things spilled to the floor. It was a real amusing and professional brawl through the building, as the fans didn't really seem to move. So you have a couple guys brawling through people that were stationary, and they had to bump with that in mind. It starts with Richards hitting a tope and him pulling back while Royal catches so that they don't go sprawling through the people in the front row, and they keep working around and falling next to little kids, felt fun and professional. Royal takes a backdrop on the floor and Richards hits a huge elbow off the apron, and by then kids are feeling confident to come up and get a close look. Back in and things get a little too sloppy. Richards missed a sunset flip and Royal wobbled a bit too long before he realized Richards was no longer going for the flip, and there was a ugly enziguiri, a dangerous and ill-advised top rope butterfly suplex; the whole end run just felt too messy.

PAS: I really enjoyed the crowd brawling, felt violent and safe at the same time. Very impressive how well both guys bumped in a way that was reckless but not fatal to small children. Although I imagine whoever owned that crutch that Royal broke on Richards back might have been a bit peeved. I actually thought the top rope butterfly suplex was a nice piece of improv and landed nastily, but I agree that some other in-ring stuff didn't look great.

3. Dawsons vs. Sandwich Squad

ER: This was okay, but I don't think the Dawsons are as good as I thought they were, and by that I mean I don't think they're good at all. I think I was tricked as they looked like one of the only teams trying slightly hard in that Hardy Boys tribute gauntlet mess. They're tubby guys with beards which probably pulled a Jedi mind trick on my brain, but they just don't seem that good. They always seem out of place for stuff, they make normal spots look clunky, and they always have a hard time getting up for moves. In this match alone they made the Squad look bad on a bodyslam and barely got off the ground on a chokeslam. A couple times they were supposed to miss a move off the ropes and I have no clue what it was that they were even supposed to miss. One of the times Dave Dawson appeared to throw a really slow Mongolian chop? I have no idea. Sometimes them being crossed up makes for a nastier spot, like them falling on each other during a double flapjack, but it starts to look bad in a longer match like this. Squad had some nice moments, thought Biggs had a great standing splash, and in the Dawsons favor I do love the "turn face opponent's mask around" spot, but this felt like it should have been better. And again, that's probably due to my inaccurate feelings about the Dawsons going into it.

PAS: I liked this match much more then Eric did, I don't think the Dawson's looked great, but this was a pretty great Sandwich Squad performance. Aaron Biggs has lost some weight, which is good for his overall health but not great for his gimmick, he is moving really well though and his Finlay roll on Zane Dawson was a true holy shit spot, I also loved the cut block/splash combo that the Sandwhich Squad did during a very exciting finish run. Mask turnaround was really nifty as was the brutal chair shot leading to a finish. Dawson's looked off, but I have liked them enough in other things to continue giving them the benefit of the doubt.

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Sunday, July 16, 2017

CWF Mid-Atlantic Wrestling: Saturday Night's CWF

Saturday Night's CWF

Just like the Superstars show that preceded it, this was another 80s throwback show, with the old Saturday Nights Main Event logo and 80s commercials spliced in between matches. It's a good gimmick.

1. C.W. Anderson vs. Ric Converse

PAS: I loved this, talk about an 80s style match (although way more NWA 80s the WWF 80s). Anderson opens the match by catching Converse with a superkick at the bell and he takes over early. I always like when matches deviate from the feeling out process which begins most matches. Anderson was nasty in this, ripping at the arm, jamming his thumb into the tendons, throwing great elbows, hitting his awesome left hand. Anderson also kept taunting the ref, refusing to break the count and daring him to DQ him. Converse is a big rawbone guy who throws big shots and he was really fun as a tough guy fighting from behind. Finish was clever as CW is going down to a crossface he reaches out and punches the ref in the face to get DQed. Fun BS ending which I assume is setting up a no DQ fight.

ER: Man, CW is so damn good. He was one of my favorites 17 years ago, never really considered at the time that he'd still be one of my favorites this much later (though teenage me also probably thought he was in his 40s in ECW, but 58 yr old CW is still going to be someone I want to watch). Did any of his WWECW house show matches make fancam? All of them sound interesting, the Rene Dupree and Stevie ones especially. But this kind of match is my bread and butter right here. I wasn't really expecting Converse to be working so behind the whole match, but it totally worked as CW cracks him with the superkick to start things and Converse is playing catch up from there. Phil makes a great point about matches that deviate from the typical feeling out process. This starts like a gunshot and it makes things more frantic. All of CW's shots look great as he picks Converse apart, but Converse is a big dude so always has a few big blows to land. Loved CW genuinely not caring if he gets DQ'd, just throwing it back in Redd's face whenever threatened with it. Converse came up with some cool stuff, like his spinebuster block, and this is a match up I cannot wait to see get no DQ treatment. Timing on the big left hand is off a bit, but Stutts does a nice job covering up what might have happened. These are the kinds of matches that keep me tuning into CWF.

2. Alex Daniels vs. Trevor Lee

ER: A fun match that I think tried to do a bit too much. I was really getting into the slow burn from Daniels and liked where it was going, looking forward to that moment where he first tried to catch Lee napping (which ended up being great, with Daniels leaping high for an elbow drop while Lee got back into the ring, except it was so high and enthusiastic that Lee just moved). The slow burn was real fun, methodical knuckle locks, bent wrists, and I liked when both guys would toss out occasional nasty slaps (loved the short 3/4 arm slot slaps both men utilized all match). The match breaks open nicely when Lee rolls out of a sunset flip and eats a sliding kick from Daniels. Daniels starts slowly picking Lee apart but Lee locks on a great octopus, and Daniels takes a super high flapjack. We get another nice breakout as Lee gets knocked off the apron into the short ramp (not sure why the section joining the ramp to the ring was missing, but I'm happy Lee utilized it as a dangerous "under construction" area, felt like something Finlay would do). Daniels has a nice habit of taking potentially overthought indy offense and making it look plausible, and vicious: Trapping Lee in the ropes, hopping to the apron and coming back in with a blockbuster could have looked way too silly, but it looked nasty. And from there we go into the long home stretch, which was executed flawlessly, but I think did too much. The moves looked great, but it got almost too inside itself. Once it gets to the point of guys pushing their opponents out of their own rollup to get into position for the next move, my brain starts making distance. I didn't love the strike exchange portion, which had more of that "take a strike in a way that gets you in position to do another strike" style. It's not my thing and I wish it was cut. But the very end is straight fire, with Lee getting that STF at all costs, eating a high amount of slaps and boots to get there. The struggle over the STF and Lee selling the strikes was awesome. I wish this could have been trimmed a bit, but overall this was another high end CWF title match.

PAS: I agree with Eric, this had lots of stuff to really like, but had a bit too much at the end. I also really dug Daniels Larry Z style stalling as he kept bailing out on Lee to look for an opening. The two big momentum shifts were great, the sliding kick was brutal looking and a real surprise, and the bump by Lee was nasty stuff and really put him in plausible danger. I also think the home stretch overdid it, they went to the "Daniels hits killshot, gets a two count and grabs his head" note a couple too many times, and no way should Lee being going back on offense that soon after that brainbuster in the corner (honestly that move should have put him in a neckbrace for two months, with Stuttsy updating his progress in a somber voice week after week). I did really love the battle for the STF, and this match succeeded in making Daniels in the area which was it's goal. It just got a little too 2017 for me to love it unconditionally.

3. Aric Andrews vs. Chet Sterling

ER: The Aric Andrews showcase match I've been waiting for! Phil has been more bearish on Sterling than me in the past, but this was the first time I think he looked actually bad. At worst before this he was "generic cross-fit guy" according to Phil. I always thought his basics looked good, nice headlocks, nice big spots like his snap half nelson suplex; here he looked bad, throwing tons of bad punches that never threatened to look damaging. His punches are better than someone like Abyss, as at least he was aiming them in the right spot, but the landings were poor, the body shots fell short, the speed was slow, just no good. But again, this was an Andrews showcase, and Andrews looked good. I dig his simple things, like a fast missed clothesline or a sunk in Boston crab. He's got long limbs and I like the way he whips them into dudes. So this wasn't a great match, but it was good to see more of what Andrews can do.

PAS: Chet Sterling's gimmick is "I'm Different" except he is very much "the same."  I mean he came into Living on a Prayer what utter basic shit that is. I liked his big dive at the opening, but the rest did not look good. I did like Andrews in this, but I am still waiting for him to have a good match.

4. Roy Wilkins vs. Mecha Mercenary

ER: It's weird to have a match where each man's partner is not allowed at ringside, but both of Wilkins' seconds are allowed. I'm not really sure why they needed the stip if Coach could still run interference for him. This had plenty of fine moments, though I thought Wilkins' strikes looked off in spots. Still, he flew into a nice Mecha lariat, and I like how Mecha commits the same on hits as he does on misses; his missed leaping elbow drop always looks great, just a big chunk of glacier falling into the Arctic. If a match was going to have a bunch of interference, I liked how this interference worked, with the ref selling GREAT in the corner after getting accidentally squished (someone get me the name of this Woody Strode-esque referee, who sells getting his head whipped into the buckle the same way Tenryu masterfully sells a piledriver. This guy is a flat out keeper!), Mecha getting clonked in the back of the head by a nice belt shot, and then Wilkins locking on his sleeper on an unconscious Mecha. It's much more satisfying than the hell just pinning his opponent, instead making it look like he choked him out and making the ref go through the process of raising Mecha's arm.

PAS: I really enjoyed this, Mecha is a guy who will get hit hard and hit hard back. I loved Wilkins trying his body press and bouncing off Mecha like Wile E. Coyote running into a brick wall. That was a nice ref bump and I loved how all of the second jumped on Mecha like ants on a sugar spill.

5. Dominic Garrini vs. Cain Justice

ER: Hey, you want to see a couple guys have a completely original match that feels like it was inspired by no other match? Watch these two match up. These two fight like they've never seen another wrestling match and just construct it all from scratch. Their movements are weird and the matches don't build with any traditional structure, feels like the first guy who combined chocolate and potato chips on a lark. Garrini throws these weird and cool hammer strikes, using them to attack Cain's torso and also using them to effectively block strikes. Both guys do weird crane kick attacks to limbs, and again, they just move differently, awesomely. Garrini is on the attack from go, blocking a Cain cheapshot that he had scouted coming and grabbing that arm. Garrini kept coming and coming and Justice would only get a break if he was able to dodge and counterattack. I loved Cain getting leveled and falling to the floor, love that spot where a heel gets put down with a match winning shot but by sheer luck lands under the ropes or falls outside the ring. This spot was handled here more naturally than normal, with Cain taking a sprawling bump across the middle rope before falling to the outside. Still, Garrini taps him which I didn't see coming. I was expecting a count out after Cain fell out. This was a blast, just a weird, unique, wholly original 7 minutes of fire.

PAS: This was worked more like a brawl then their first match, and while it wasn't at the level of that out of nowhere classic, it was still a total blast. I loved Garrinni's hammer punches, they really look like a thing a ju-jitsu guy who never trained kickboxing might throw to get closer. Garrinni also threw a nasty delayed german suplex, which was almost Otsukaesque. Cain was more Anderson then Carl Greco here, and had some nasty arm work, including trying to hyperextend it against the rope. I loved the finish with Justice setting up his arm submission, but he stopped briefly to taunt Cecil Scott and got reversed and tapped. Great bit of comeuppance, and I desperately want to see the rubber match.

ER: I don't think the "throwback format" worked anywhere near as well as it did for the Superstars episode. Superstars seemed like a full committment to the presentation, this just had guys coming out to 80s songs and a couple commercials. The wrestling was better on this one, so I can't complain when I get a long CW match, and the whole show was quality wrestling. In fact, we added THREE matches from this show to our 2017 Ongoing MOTY List, no small feat.

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Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Bad News Berzerker Goes to Japan: Part 3

66. Stan Hansen/John Nord vs. Mark & Chris Youngblood (AJPW 1/7/94)

Oh man was this ever good. THIS was the Nord I wanted in Japan. He looked a little rusty in the trios match opening night, and here we are a few days later and he looks as good as his best Berzerker matches. I love all the big boots, the big knee, works a killer grounded headlock (pushing up off his heels to wrench it in), really makes Chris think about it before hitting that gnarly falling slam, drops a great legdrop for the win, and obviously knows who he's teaming with as he misses with this enormous lariat in a way that I've never seen him swing before. Chris would have Hoshikawa'd if he didn't duck. And the Youngbloods were super fun. Neither of them have tons of offense, but they make it work, and Hansen/Nord didn't treat them like total jokes, and that makes it way better. Mark throws really great short Mongolian chops, Chris throws a bunch of weird chops, and Hansen/Nord appropriately sell all of them like their BBQ is getting invaded by a bunch of pesky flies. Hansen sells them with confusion and anger, like a dog not understand why biting this porcupine keeps hurting him. Nord takes his first classic backwards bump over the top in over a year here, flying out of the ring off a double dropkick. Chris' hot tag chops are great pro wrestling, keeping both big men off balance until it eventually catches up to him, and Mark had a nice style of painful looking bumps. This whole thing was a blast, far better than the mugging I expected. Hansen/Nord took 80% of the match, but never looked like they were steamrolling the Youngbloods.


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Friday, July 14, 2017

Anarchy Wrestling Hostile Environment 6/24/17

Chase Jordan v. Jeremy Foster

Really energetic opener. I liked Jordan as a goofy looking guy who would get vicious when taunted by the crowd. At one point he hit a diving punch to the back of Foster's head which was as violent as anything on this show. Foster is a hyper competent babyface who had some nice moments, including a great looking heel hook. Finish felt a little off, but this was a fine use of 8 minutes.

Ryan Vega v. AJ Gray

This was the climax of a feud which saw Vega stab Gray in the eye with a pen and piss on a referee. Vega has a nice scumbag look, although it is more Reddit troll then dangerous gutter punk. Match was a Gray showcase, as he was getting his revenge by hitting huge spots, he had a crazy Orihara moonsault and finished with a Phoenix splash where he kneed Vega in the ribs. Gray was fun (I remember liking him in CWF too) and this was another good match. 

Nightmare Kyle Matthews v. Anthony Henry

Another in a run of really entertaining Kyle Matthews matches, he has turned into one of my favorite guys in the world to watch. Henry is a guy I have seen a lot in EVOLVE and he was always a bit too go-go-go for my tastes, there was some of that here, but Matthews slowed him down some but still danced with him when it was time to dance. Really enjoyed Henry's arm work, after a Valet distraction he whipped him off the apron with the arm, and worked it for the rest of the match, including a cool bridged Fujiwara and a elbow lock with back control. I love how they have turned Matthews octopus into a killer hold, and both Henry's escape from the first attempt and the final finish were really well done. Looking forward to Matthews having a long fun run with this belt.

Lynch Mob (Joey Lynch/Matt Lynch) v. The Approved (Adrian Hawkins/ Bobby Moore)

This was a taped fist street fight for the tag team titles. I really dug this when The Approved and the Lynch Mob were punching each other in face, the Approved both have some really nice looking right hands, and the early part of this had a ton of energy. I liked how the Lynch Mob used dives, they were almost Sabuish in their recklesness. This fell apart a bit at the end, as both teams were setting up elaborate set pieces with chairs and it lost a lot of the energy it had earlier.

Tank v. Brad Cash

Here we had a Tapai death match along with lots of additional pokey weapons. This had some nice moments, Tank is a good brawler and the parts that resembled a brawl were good, still lots of this was geek show Mr. Pogo stuff. Lots of slow cutting by each guy, it was gross and bloody but not that compelling. I always prefer death matches to be built around stiffness and and bumps, the final bump by Cash was nasty as Tank choke slammed him on gusset plates, but this was mostly stabbing. Gory spectacle, but I am over gore for gore's sake

Rock C v. Jessica Leigh

I liked Rock C's reverse grapevine leg lock finisher, and she had one nice side suplex, but otherwise this was more a match for the live crowd, then anything you want to watch on tape.

Jacob Ashworth v. Stryknyn

Really fun heavyweight title slugfest. They start out early with some basic tight takedown and lock up wrestling, but like most face v. face matches, it really kicks in when they start throwing hands. Stryknyn hits a great looking barfight headbut and throws some really great straight rights, he also has some nice looking stomps. Ashworth doesn't have as crisp punches, but has great babyface fire, and some of the exchanges looked down right Lawlerian. I didn't love the moves section as much, lots of full nelson slams and B- spears, but I have to love any match based on great punches.

Team Elite (Gunner Miller/Kevin Blue/Billy Buck/Chris Spectra) v. Jeremiah’s Battalion (Gladiator Jeremiah/Cyrus the Destroyer/Se7en/Azreal)

The first recent vintage Wargames match I have reviewed since I started my C+A Wargames and it lives up to the name. This has been building for a while since Billy Buck turned on Slim J, turning him into Gladiator Jeremiah. Buck then joined Team TAG and Jeff G. Bailey. Jeremiah then began recruiting monsters to take with him into war. Before the match they announced that Iceberg was in the hospital meaning the Battalion was one man short. Buck and Jeremiah start out and Jeremiah mauls him, bloodying him up and chucking from cage side to cage side. Heels get the advantage and Jeremiah takes some big bumps into the cage. At one point Cyrus, who is 350 if he is an ounce, gets hurled into the cage and breaks the whole thing, For the rest of the match the cage looks like it is going to collapse, which doesn't stop nutso Jeremiah from doing a dive off the top. Really enjoyed Spectra who came in with nunchucks and actually had some fun offense with them as weapons. Se7en also really hurled people around when he came in, he has such force in everything he does. The final Battalion member to come in was the returning Azreal who comes in lowered from the ceiling with druids holding torches. It was a pretty dope entrance, especially for an indy show. My only real complaint in the match is Azreal being the one to submit, a hacksaw in the mouth is a fine way to end a match, but having a guy have this big entrance only to be the loser seems like weird booking. Still great violent performances by everyone in this match, and one of the better Cornelia Wargames I have seen.


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Thursday, July 13, 2017

2017 Ongoing MOTY List: Demus v. Terry

6. Black Terry v. Demus 3:16 ANCLA WWCI 6/24

PAS: Black Terry goes to ratty filthy war once again. This is another grimy classic, as Terry just keeps getting better as he keeps getting older. Demus looks like a demented bridge troll as he just plows forward with violent shots, only to see Terry fire back just as hard. Terry in brawls has a super high floor, but there were a couple of things that pushed this to another level. Demus had some awesome ground and pound punches including a spot where he had a reverse headlock on Terry and just rained shots down on his face. Finish was super nasty too, as Demus hits this great looking choke. It felt like a best case scenario for Brock v. Joe if both guys were basically midgets.

ER: Add another one to the growing list of "violent brawls that make me fascinated and confused by Black Terry". I love that Phil calls out Demus for looking like a demented bridge troll, because I watched this thinking he looked like Warwick Davis in Leprechaun, then saw what Phil wrote. These two are small, almost small enough that if they did an electric chair spot, you could picture them wearing a gigantic trench coat and sneaking into an R rated movie. But their fists are huge and loud and they make liberal use of them. The arena/backyard/swap meet/building is always as much a character in Terry singles brawls as the workers themselves. This building isn't quite a tented yard with jagged rocks like in his Wotan match, but damn is this building the best. It's got people standing on 3 levels, the staircases up to the levels look hastily planned, people's legs dangle off the upper stories as they sit and lean against the railing; it looks like a background you'd see in Street Fighter II. You get your fight on top of an aircraft carrier, your fight in a bathhouse, your fight in front of a Thai statue, your fight in a dimly lit Mexican building that smells like dog blood, etc.

The gold in this one obviously starts when they brawl out to the crowd, throw each other face first into chairs, slip in beer, punch each other literal inches from people's faces, everything you'd want from a Terry brawl. A woman - showing herself to be total marriage material - hands Demus the rest of her beer, then cheers wildly as he spits it into Terry's face, and the face of a fan Terry is leaning against. They roll around on the floor, fly into ringposts, both men punch each other hard in the face - no matter if they're in front of fans totally losing it or totally there to crack jokes, they're equal opportunity punchers. Terry is a great bleeder and these handhelds always fascinate me: the idea of a son following his dad around, filming him while he bleeds in dirty buildings. What are the car rides like afterward? Does he nap? BTJr. is missing out by not just making a Black Terry 24/7 live feed.


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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Bad News Berzerker Goes to Japan: Part 2

65. Stan Hansen/John Nord/Johnny Gunn vs. Mitsuharu Misawa/Kenta Kobashi/Jun Akiyama (AJPW 1/2/94)

I truly love Kings Road/NOAH 6 man tags. You can always expect a certain level of professionalism, they don't overstay their welcome, you get some nice match-ups and you can typically guess who is going to take the fall. There's a familiarity but also always some pleasant surprises. This is a wonderful babyface team against a kinda strange heel team. I don't think any of these three heel men had ever met before, and they had certainly never worked together before. They are joined here together in their mere whiteness. Johnny Gunn is a guy who nobody has an opinion on, and here looks okay. He is somehow both clumsy and smooth. He'll trip on the ring ropes entering the ring, he'll set up an arm drag way too early, but then he'll break out a cool snap fisherman suplex. Sometimes the clunkiness and smoothness can happen within one move, like when he locks Misawa in an awkward Russian legsweep but then ends it with a slick floatover into a pin. Nord looks a little rusty here, his bumps seem more tentative, he gets crossed up a couple times on rope running which is odd as nobody ran the ropes more than this guy the previous two years. But he still lands a couple gorgeous kneedrops, his huge falling slam on Kobashi, some nice big boots, a great lariat, and it's neat seeing him next to Hansen. Hansen of course looked better than anybody here, yanking his kneepad down for a great kneelift, working the apron like a total savage ("Pin him again, John! Now tag me in!!"), beating dudes into the crowd, taking nasty Kobashi chops and booting him in the face. The double teams are still a little clunky but we'll see if they improve over the tour. The finish is obvious to anybody who's ever watched even a little All Japan. Once Hansen and Nord spill to the floor, we know we're in the stretch. Hansen kicks and punches Kobashi through the crowd and abandons him, but in a great show Kobashi comes charging back and surprises Hansen before he gets back to the ring. Kobashi turned in a great babyface performance in this one. The stoic Misawa fights over the tiger driver and Nord bursts in with an awesome save, doing a classic Berzerker axe handle, landing on his knees. But Akiyama tackles him to the floor, and with Hansen tied up still with Kobashi, Misawa merely cracks Gunn with an elbow (and Gunn leans in great, getting spun around in a 180). Misawa spins him back around, tiger driver is academic.


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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

2017 Ongoing MOTY List: Brock v. Joe

11. Samoa Joe vs. Brock Lesnar WWE Great Balls of Fire 7/9

ER: The build for this has been tremendous. Lesnar is an all time great at those sit down promos, and him getting choked purple was an all time wrestling moment, flat out. And this starts great with Joe jumping Brock during Heyman's intro and smashing him through an announce table. Brock always flies through tables with gusto. Guy is a total bump freak, still, somehow. "Brock with vulnerabilities" is one of my favorite wrestling personalities ever. And hot damn this is great, Joe rushes with a back elbow and kick, both men exchange sick knees, Joe throws tons of great mixed jabs in the corner (working the ribs and face), Brock starts throwing mean knees and Joe goes right for the clutch. First german about 90 seconds in, and Joe takes another right on his shoulder. I love when Lesnar uses the suplexes to create space, not to make up the meat of a match. Joe is fighting to win and mulekicks Lesnar's Great Balls while blocking the ref's view, and the fight over the clutch is majestic. Brock's face swells up and changes colors spectacularly in chokes, like Takayama's face after taking a few punches. His face is an incredible pro wrestling tool. Lesnar throws more germans and I urge Joe to stop rolling over, back-to-Lesnar, after each one. Joe grabs the clutch on an F5 attempt, and I love Lesnar trying to shake him off by backing into the corner, but that let's Joe get the hooks on the choke. Lesnar is a freak, and with his air vanishing he manages to pop up, nail the F5, and then lay on the mat catching his breath like a man who almost drowned. I wanted more, but damn was this a great 8 minute fight. They need to run this back.

PAS: I really enjoyed this as well, Joe has always been awesome at these energetic sprints, and this reminded me of a less crazy version of the Necro classic. I loved Joe jumping him before the bell and laying him out, and his attack at the beginning was pretty intense, I thought the jabs and knees to the stomach were a nice call back to the diverticulitis (which is really something they should bring up on commentary). Lesnar is amazing at selling chokes, he always looks like he is mid-stroke. I liked the F5 counter for the pin, I only wish that Lesnar hadn't spammed that move so much over the years.


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Monday, July 10, 2017

The Bad News Berzerker Goes to Japan: Part 1

64. 19 Man Battle Royal (AJPW 1/2/94)

What did Nord do in the year between his last Berzerker appearance and his first AJPW appearance? Was he in a battle royal no man's land? Walking the earth like Caine, lost in battle royal purgatory. I can only assume that after he got tossed out of that last Raw battle royal he Hussed his way out of the Manhattan Center and stomped his way across America, dove into the Pacific, pillaging his way through the ocean, stopped for awhile in Hawaii to build up strength, then plunged back into the water, showing up 11 months later in Tokyo.

And All Japan battle royals are the weirdest, most pointless, most amusing, most wonderful little regular gimmick match in wrestling. I think I should to a Complete & Accurate AJPW Opening Tour Battle Royals. They're awful and they're the best. I had a lousy day at work and came home, flipped on this Happy New Year 1994 Battle Royal, and 10 minutes later I was smiling and laughing and my day was saved. Where did these come from? The concept is absurd. 20 or so guys hugging the ropes like a bunch of guys standing around the edge of a public pool. Somebody takes one back bump, and 10 guys pounce on him and he leaves to zero fanfare. Whose baby was this!? Did these things used to be different, and by the time I was watching in the 90s, this is what they had evolved into?  More research needs to be done, because I am in love.

We open on Korakuen, a funky disco take on the Star Wars main theme pumping through the hall. All of our native participants enter first, and none of them look excited. They all enter in their neon trunks and look like they are heading to a group delousing. Izumida is wearing Eigen's hot pink trunks. Rusher has the highest hiked tights you've seen. Taue comes out absentmindedly rubbing his tits. Then the gaijin arrive, lead by mega-tubs Kimala II and Abby. Why there's Brian Costello, arguably the weirdest one tour guy in All Japan history! Stan Hansen comes out last with some of the most epic bedhead, looking like he fell asleep in a sunbeam and lost a couple hours. John Nord is entirely absent, and doesn't show up until a minute in. He doesn't make a big spectacle entrance, just literally walks in from the back, grabs Rusher from the apron and starts clubbing him. It's entirely believable that he was just using the restroom when the battle royal entrances started, and he decided it was still okay to show up, better late than never.

The match starts as you expect, with nobody wanting to risk falling on their back. Falling on your back in an All Japan battle royal is like falling into hot lava. Once you're down, forget about it, you're done. Chris Youngblood is the first to go. Korakuen sits in stunned silence. If Chris Youngblood can go out this early, then this is truly anybody's battle royal to win. Kimala begins leading a huge elimination streak, dishing out big splashes to a few guys, which in turn leads to several guys holding him down on his opponent. The funniest was Kimala splashing Brian Costello, and Izumida bolts across the ring to hold Kimala's shoulders down, lest Costello be able to kick out without Izu's extra pressure. Big moment comes when Kobashi and Kawada square off and kick each other's ass. Fans are going wild and want to see them burn it down. They go big right away, trying to powerbomb each other out the gate, then both go down from a double clothesline. Misawa, ever the prick, rolls Kobashi onto Kawada and then lets everybody pin Kawada. He could have had everyone dogpile on BOTH men, but he purposely rolled Kobashi onto Kawada. Johnny Ace gets Kobashi in a small package, and 8 guys make sure Kobashi doesn't kick out...and then they roll it over and make sure Ace doesn't kick out. These things are so bad!!! And so perfect. Hansen hits a fucking brutal standing lariat on Izumida. NOBODY helps him pin Izu. Help is not needed.

Nord exits quietly, victim to a Kimala splash. He leaves the ring without a single huss. We are in a new world. Eigen is still pissed after Hansen dispatched his boy Izu, and he cheapshots Hansen! Hansen is an awakened bear (again, really working that nap gimmick with his bedhead) and Eigen hightails it away as fast as he can, burrowing into a corner and maneuvering Omori, Honda and Akiyama in front of him as part of Operation Young Boy Human Shield. Hansen makes it clear that Eigen's sneakery will not be forgotten, and begins killing men with western lariats. He seems to decapitate Akiyama with a particularly nasty one. All his boys get taken out. Eigen is left with Hansen as the remaining survivors stay the fuck out of it. Hansen charges full speed and swings his arm as hard as he can at the side of Eigen's head. Eigen does not kick out. We get a final four of Hansen, Baba, Abby and Kimala. The bigguns double team Baba, gently massaging his scalp with tender headbutts. Baba takes one back bump, and Kimala gives him the lightest, gentlest, most protected big splash. I explain to Rachel that Baba is old and frail, so needed to be protected at this point. As I say that, Abdullah sprints across the ring and plants Baba with a full force falling elbow right to the sternum. Welp. Hansen tries to save Baba but is too late, but clearly wants blood. He smashes Abby with a back elbow and literally lariats the face paint off of Kimala II. He and Abby gouge at each other's eyes, but Hansen manages to whip him into the corner where Baba is waiting, eliminated. Baba gets that size 32 boot up into Abby's....well, mostly into Abby's boob, truth be told, and Hansen follows behind with another lariat for the win. He is presented with a gift certificate of some kind, possibly for a steak dinner, possibly for a prostitute.

"Happy New Year," he screams to the crowd. The crowd screams back. To this, Hansen responds, "Buuuuuuuurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr," waving his BOGO ballroom dance lesson certificate above his head.


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Sunday, July 09, 2017

WWE Great Balls of Fire Live Blog

1. Neville vs. Akira Tozawa

ER: This ended up getting way more time than I was expecting, and ended up being much better than I expected. Tozawa wins me over early with a nice timber sell off a Neville kick from the apron, and later bumps a low kick on his neck. Things ramp up big once Tozawa hits a big tope, then hits another. Corey Graves puts over how Tozawa is using his big head to his advantage. I never thought about Tozawa's head size before. It seems like a pretty normal head. Spot of the match was Neville catching Tozawa on his shoulders, but Tozawa slowly turning a bad situation into a great octopus hold. Awesome pro wrestling spot.  We get a couple nice nearfalls and at a certain point I actually thought Tozawa was going to get the belt. Neville smartly rolls out of the ring after the senton, and I loved Tozawa's face as he scrambled to catch Neville before he rolled away. Titus continues offering nothing to the people he manages, but I'll give him full credit on his great 1994 Golden State Warriors suit/tie/pocket square combo. Another nice pre-show match to start the PPV. These things almost always deliver.

2. Bray Wyatt vs. Seth Rollins

ER: Seth Rollins entrance gear must be modeled after one of the pre-cogs in Minority Report. This is probably the match I'm least excited for, so it's nice of them to get it out of the way first. But a couple minutes in and it's pretty good. I liked the bump Bray took off the apron into the ring steps, and Bray hits the mother of all shoulderblocks to send Rollins into the barricade. Rollins is always vaguely shitty about setting up moves. He always does things to get ready for a spot that are always a little annoying if you notice them, like getting put up on the top buckle and then getting his legs ready for being superplexed without Wyatt touching him. I hate little things like that. Or how Rollins is first to his feet moments after taking a DDT on the apron. Rollins hits his feather soft tope and they're losing me. But Bray's jawbreaker off the top is really great, and catching Rollins with a sly eyepoke over the ref was a great spot, and that Sister Abigail landed hard and fast. Overall an uninteresting but inconsequential match, with a nice finish.

3. Enzo Amore vs. Big Cass

ER: Not a big fan of their tag team, but not really sure what the benefit of them already splitting up. Enzo at maximum was a nice guy to sell for a hot tag. I think both were better together than working singles matches. Cass's big man offense doesn't do a whole lot for me, but I liked his running avalanche and the press slam to the floor looked great. Pretty surprised they didn't even give Enzo any kind of comeback. I don't think he even got a bit of offense. Not that Enzo has good offense, but something? Instead we got 7 minutes of Cass doing some slow Test tribute offense.

4. 30 Minute Iron Man: Hardy Boys vs. Cesaro/Sheamus

ER: A 30 Minute Iron Man seems a bit much. I'm sure by the end of this we'll all agree that 20 would have been fine. But it shouldn't be bad. I do like the heels getting a quick pin and then working a slow pace. It's a smart strategy, and I hope it actually goes somewhere worthwhile. And I loved Sheamus' cover when they went up 2-0, hooking the leg with one arm and counting the 3 with his free hand, big grin the whole time. Sheamus is one of the better guys in the fed at hitting the corner post, his post bumps always look fast and painful. Hot tags are kind of weird when you know how much time is left in a match. Matt's punches still look great in HD, and he takes a nice post bump as well. Iron Man matches always tend to get a really quiet crowd for most of the match, as the crowd doesn't think anything really matters until at least the final third. And sure enough they wake up a bit with 9 minutes left on the clock. Things have been pretty mechanical up until that point, so I can't blame them too much. Great spot with Cesaro going for an uppercut, getting caught by Matt in a backslide, with Jeff tagging in and dropping double legs to get a quick pin. Cesaro save seemed a hair late after the Matt moonsault (has Matt always kept his hands in front of him on moonsaults? Most guys through them back above their head) and as I'm typing that the fans start chanting how the ref sucks. Does WWE still want their refs calling matches "as if they were shoots"? I remember hearing that years ago and it leading to a couple accidental finishes. Fans coming alive at the 2 minute warning, and Jeff flings himself nicely off the top into C&S. Hardys do a clunky dual top rope splash/elbow, and Matt somehow gets busted open from it. I could not tell at all how it happened. He dropped a Bret elbow from the tope (which seems like a good way to jam your wrist or injure your elbow) and came up touching his face, then a second later his face was covered in blood. Did he accidentally headbutt Sheamus? Either way, I kind of liked and kind of hated the Cesaro flash pin on Hardy. In theory it makes sense to surprise Jeff with a pin right after he does the swanton, but Jeff was kicking so much that it looked like his shoulders kept coming up off the mat. Though Cesaro running away afterwards was pretty great. Still, I think this was overall a let down. I seem to be in the minority on that opinion but I'm not sure what I missed that everyone else saw. I thought the Hardys looked kind of sluggish throughout and thought the pacing was off. I liked the match, but was surprised after I looked around and saw a lot of people calling it a classic. It never felt classic to me.

5. Sasha Banks vs. Alexa Bliss

ER: HOW DID I FORGET ABOUT ALEXA'S WEIRD DOUBLE JOINTED ELBOW!? She got whipped nastily into the mat on an arm wringer, and that wonky elbow is such a great trick. After she elbow smashes Sasha she checks her lip for blood while grinning, like some action movie villain. Then these two start targeting each others' kidneys in gross ways: Sasha hits the backcracker into the Banks Statement, Alexa scrambles out to the floor and legsweeps Sasha who falls kidneys first on the apron, then back in Alexa nails her double kneedrop and moonsault kneedrop to the same spot, then whiplashes Sasha backwards into her knee. These two are having a killer little match. I like Sasha waiting until 5 to break the Banks Statement and the cameras really zoom in and that tight grip across Alexa's mouth and nose. Count out finish took the wind out of the sails admittedly. I love Alexa as champ, so I don't hate the end result, but it's a little uninspired. Post match was good though with Sasha hitting her crazy double knees off the ring ramp announce table to the floor, and Alexa catches it great. Both are nuts. We knew this was going to continue, so a finish like this was expected.

6. The Miz vs. Dean Ambrose

ER: I am not very excited for this match, but I'm interested in how Axel and Dallas are dressed. What a strangely dressed stable. Miz and Maryse dress like they're in a Vegas show, Axel dresses like he's an extra in The Untouchables, and Dallas looks like Pigpen from the Grateful Dead. I like Dean's low crossbody, and Miz is fine working over the knee. I'm so conditioned to seeing guys go after the face when hanging an opponent in the tree of woe, that I actively cheered Miz dropkicking Dean in the knee a couple times. Maryse throwing up her arms during the Yes! kicks is great. Dean comes up with a bloody mouth at some point and I again completely missed when it happened. Dean doesn't really care too much about his hurt knee, at least not letting it slow him down when he twice hops over top rope and leaps off it (always selling it once he lands). Interference x3 plays into the finish, and this was what it was, probably a bit better than I expected. Which was not much.

7. Ambulance Match: Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns

ER: Ambulance match is probably better than Stretcher match as far as stips go, but it doesn't usually equate "good match". These two have had plenty of good matches against each other, and all are likely to be better than this. BUT, the stip does at least make sense. All of Braun's early power stuff looks good, but I really get into this once Roman hits the drive-by on Braun's arm, slams the arm into the ringpost a bunch, then bashes it with a chair. Yeah!! Bust up that arm. That's his "throw guys into ambulances arm!!" Strowman starts no selling chairshots like Zeus and all the stuff with them fighting around the stage and ambulance is good. Braun bashes Reigns with a freaking board, Roman gets tossed around on the stage, Braun plows through the LED display and we get all these great LED glitches while Braun lay in the wreckage. Finish makes sense as Roman stupidly runs at Braun and whiffs on the spear, then acts like a sore loser by locking Braun in the ambulance and crashing it. We don't see what happens after as we desperately need to get back to the ring for the important match between......

8. Curt Hawkins vs. Heath Slater

ER: Oh. This match. Wasn't Goldust/Truth supposed to be on this show? This match would feel out of place if it was the main event on Main Event. It must have been a weird conversation with Hawkins when they told him "look, you'll get a PPV payday, and you'll go out there and hold a chinlock for 2 minutes and lose off camera." Oh. Kurt Angle rocking jeans and a blazer like a guy who has done very well for himself and is now just trying to enjoy this wine mixer. We are getting some REAL TIME jaws of life! I was expecting Braun to be gone like Michael Myers, but instead we get valiant babyface Braun refusing the stretcher and walking away with dignity, smearing blood on somebody's slick tour bus. Michael Cole's serious voice, it should be noted, is fucking terrible.

9. Samoa Joe vs. Brock Lesnar

ER: The build for this has been tremendous. Lesnar is an all time great at those sit down promos, and him getting choked purple was an all time wrestling moment, flat out. And this starts great with Joe jumping Brock during Heyman's intro and smashing him through an announce table. Brock always flies through tables with gusto. Guy is a total bump freak, still, somehow. "Brock with vulnerabilities" is one of my favorite wrestling personalities ever. And hot damn this is great, Joe rushes with a back elbow and kick, both men exchange sick knees, Joe throws tons of great mixed jabs in the corner (working the ribs and face), Brock starts throwing mean knees and Joe goes right for the clutch. First german about 90 seconds in, and Joe takes another right on his shoulder. I love when Lesnar uses the suplexes to create space, not to make up the meat of a match. Joe is fighting to win and mulekicks Lesnar's Great Balls while blocking the ref's view, and the fight over the clutch is majestic. Brock's face swells up and changes colors spectacularly in chokes, like Takayama's face after taking a few punches. His face is an incredible pro wrestling tool. Lesnar throws more germans and I urge Joe to stop rolling over, back-to-Lesnar, after each one. Joe grabs the clutch on an F5 attempt, and I love Lesnar trying to shake him off by backing into the corner, but that let's Joe get the hooks on the choke. Lesnar is a freak, and with his air vanishing he manages to pop up, nail the F5, and then lay on the mat catching his breath like a man who almost drowned. I wanted more, but damn was this a great 8 minute fight. They need to run this back.

A very good PPV with a great, unique 8 minute main, really good women and cruiser matches, and nothing outright bad. I live blogged two shows this weekend, and this was the one that didn't feel like anything close to a waste of time. It didn't quite live up to my (admittedly lofty) expectations, and I was excited for a Goldust PPV match (maybe I wrongly assumed it would be on this show?), and I seem to be the odd low vote on the Hardys tag...but this was well worth the time spent.

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