Segunda Caida

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

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Mae Young Classic Episode 2

1. Mercedes Martinez vs. Xia Li

ER: If this was actually Li's first legit wrestling match, it's not really fair to be that critical, but there wouldn't be much need to as she looked far better than most anybody else I've seen having their first match. Her opening headlock and wrestling looked good, and the spin kicks to Martinez's hip were neat (the spin kick to a kneeling Martinez was awesome), and her running snapmare was really cool. What's surprising is just how much Martinez let her have. I fully get letting Li get some shine since she was obviously not advancing, but Martinez handled it kind of weird, lying down and just sitting on the mat for an awkwardly long amount of time. I'm not sure if Li was supposed to hit that superman punch earlier or what, but it didn't seem like it. It really just seemed like Martinez was overselling the kicks. It felt odd.

PAS: I thought this was worked pretty perfectly for this type of match. I loved Martinez taunting Li and the beginning of the match, tooling her on the mat early, only to get caught with big shots. I had no problem with her selling, as it came off like she was just stunned by stiff kick. I also liked how when Mercedes took over, she just planted her and submitted her. Li got in some stuff, she really didn't need a bunch of your turn, my turn or a bunch of near falls.

2. Marti Belle vs. Rachel Evers

ER: OOF this was some ugly business right here. These two were not only on different pages, they were in different libraries. I think each of them may have been out of position for 80% of the things done in this match. I don't think you can blame nerves, as Belle was still doing solid trash talk throughout, and if someone freezes up in a match they tend to freeze up in every way. These two just did not work together. Evers hit a flush senton. That might have been the only thing that landed correctly. Kicks were completely whiffed, moves were taken as if they had no idea what move was being performed. I mean there were some clumsy landings in this. I had seen Belle several times in TNA and don't remember her looking this bad. I had high hopes for her as I like her look and personality something went majorly wrong here.

PAS: Yeah this was a mess, they probably should have just video packaged this, like when a not great singer advances on the Voice "Also advancing to the second round Rachel Evers." It is always hard to tell when something goes this bad, but it really looked like Rachel didn't know how to bump or apply her own moves, that fisherman's buster thing.. ooof. There was also a terrible Evers pantomime when she got hung up on the ropes, it looked like a 14 year old girl scout miming choking so her friend could demonstrate the Heimlich for a merit badge.

3. Rhea Ripley vs. Miranda Salinas

ER: Ripley seemed fine, but they let the wrong giant woman advance. I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking Jazzy should be in round 2 instead. I liked Salinas although I'm not sure I'm buying the 5' billed height. MAYBE in heels. But I liked Salinas' personality, thought she looked awesome baiting Ripley with a hair pull and a slap and then catching her with a snapmare as she charged out. Ripley had a nice corner dropkick and a decent full nelson slam and Salinas landed with a big thud. Perfectly fine stuff here.

PAS: I think Ripley and Jazzy play really different roles, and we could have had both of them advance pretty easily. This was basic stuff, the kind of thing you would see from two black trunks NJ rookies. Ripley had a couple of nice dropkicks and is clearly a good athlete. She will be good in a couple of years, but probably should be off TV until then.

4. Sarah Logan vs. Mia Yim

ER: We saw Sarah Logan at an NXT house show earlier this month and I thought she was the least impressive woman on the show, but that was before I knew she had to wake up early to catch that evening's dinner. But this was pretty easily the best match of episode 2. Logan looked much better here than at the NXT show, mixing up strikes nicely (liked her chop/jab combo and running knee). Yim is a professional, but I don't like how she gets kind of stuck in pre-determined kick combos, and I still don't think there's been anyone who can plausibly pull off the tarantula. But I liked her suplexes, liked Logan's knees, we got a couple good nearfalls, etc. Good match.

PAS: I really liked Logan here, I remember enjoying a Crazy Mary Dobson match or two but she felt at another level here. Her offense felt more violent and sudden then Yim who felt a little mechanical. Loved Logan's head but to the shoulder blades and her finishing off the slap exchange with those nasty thrust kicks to the mouth. Yim v. Bayzler will be fine, but I think we missed out on a special bit of violence by not getting Logan v. Shayna

ER: So, an obvious step back from episode 1, with a match that honestly shouldn't have been allowed to air. I don't think I'm exaggerating with that statement. But Xia Li was a nice surprise and I hope she sticks around, and Ripley/Salinas each showed promise.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

2017 Ongoing MOTY List: Gulak v. Ali 2/3 Falls

55. Drew Gulak v. Mustafa Ali WWE 205 Live 7/18

PAS: I have fallen deeply behind on 205 Live never to catch up, but when I saw Drew Gulak had a long showcase match I wanted to check it out. Gulak has been working sort of a RTC era Stevie Richards gimmick except anti highflying instead of anti Russo boob jokes. This was the culmination of a long series between these two guys and they got a ton of TV time to work a long match. Really enjoyed the quick first fall with Ali using his speed to get an advantage on the mat. Second fall has Gulak grind him out more, including finishing with a nasty dragon sleeper after Ali tries to go to the top. Third fall was more a big move fall, including Gulak getting spiked on a reverse rana and Gulak wasting Ali with a nasty clothesline. Finish was a little dumb with Gulak going to the top rope and developing a fear of heights. Both guys are really fun wrestlers to watch, and it was pretty neat to see them get this long to do their thing on TV.

ER: I love that Gulak finally gets a chance to stretch out in WWE, and love it even more that the two of them really got the crowd into this thing. There have been a lot of painfully silent 205 Live matches, and Gulak has been in plenty of them. His style wasn't always something that entertained indie wrestling diehards, it's definitely not going to be a style that will look good in 3 minute matches. The "No Fly Zone" is a good gimmick within the brand and gives his wrestling style a base and context, and allows for a more accessible personality in shorter matches. And these two built something really fun. It didn't really need the 2/3 falls stip, but if that allowed it to get more time to do its thing then cool by me. What did work about the 2/3 falls is Ali winning quickly in the first without using flying, which makes Gulak ramp up the viciousness to get the 2nd fall. Third fall was a real showstopper with Ali's "flying" coming naturally out of reversing Gulak, like hitting a rana off the barrier or concussing Gulak with a reverse rana when Gulak was trying to whip him into the ropes. I still genuinely have no clue how guys don't die after reverse ranas. The replay certainly looked like he just got completely brained, right on his dome. But I like Gulak's strikes, murderous lariat, a powerbomb that was one of my favorite powerbombs of recent memory, and the constant threat of reversing Ali's flash into that dragon sleeper. The finish was incredibly bad, I hate how guys like Regal and Dave Taylor and Gulak and I'm sure others I'm forgetting are apparently flight-averse because the mere act of not being on solid ground makes them quake. Gulak climbs a turnbuckle and his knees are suddenly wobbly. It's awfully dumb and they've gone to the well before. I DO appreciate Gulak appealing to the crowd, felt like a lucha kind of reaction, appealing to the fans. But it all took way too long and I hate how it lead directly to the finish. It was really obvious, but in a pretty stupid way. Still, match delivered and I'm happy we got something like this.


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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Mae Young Classic Episode1

PAS: After really enjoying the CWC, we figured we would check out the distaff version of the tournament.

ER: I don't tend to go out of my way to watch a lot of modern women's wrestling, but I like the concept of the tournament and am excited to see some people I haven't seen before. Also gotta support SC fave Baszler getting TV time, and gotta support Bay Area gal Nicole Savoy. I think my lack of knowledge (and avoidance of spoilers) about current women's wrestling will be to my advantage, as I won't totally have a preconceived idea on who will advance in many of the matches. It will be like when you would get a El Dandy vs. Damien match on WCW Worldwide. How the hell do you know which one of them is higher on the totem pole?

1. Katie Lee Ray vs. Princess Sugehit

PAS: Solid opener which did a nice job showcasing both ladies. I think Sugehit has pretty much exclusively worked CMLL, but she did a nice job working a more US style match. Sugehit's kicks to the head were pretty weak looking, and probably a mistake in a tourney where I am sure big shots are going to be thrown by other competitors. Ray had some cool moments, I liked her koji clutch submission, and the missed dive into the finish worked well.

ER: Sugehit is rocking the braces and I hope that somehow gets worked into a match. It feels like something Finlay would work into a match. I want someone to punch her mouth and come away holding their hand. Or maybe she can bite through a ring rope like Jaws biting through that gondola cable in Moonraker. Sugehit has ventured into the states before, as I actually remember seeing her in APW oddly enough BEFORE she was in CMLL. This was well over a decade ago though. I liked how both of these two worked together, thought Ray was really smooth on her couple submission applications and sunset flips, she's someone I'd like to see more from. Sugehit is one of my favorite CMLL workers, and I liked how she immediately played rudo by nudging her head into Ray's chin. There was a little hesitation in some moments but overall I dug her.

2. Serena Deeb vs. Vanessa Borne

PAS: Deeb is in the Brian Kendrick role of returning veteran. Watching her videos reminded of how dope the Straight Edge Society was. This was a pretty basic match as Borne is a rookie and Deeb was always pretty punch and kick. Borne did hit a couple of really nice looking headbutts, and I dug Deeb's missed spear bump into the turnbuckle, it really looked like she cracked her sternum. Nothing I'll remember tomorrow, but a fine 6 minutes of wrestling

ER: Borne is the more traditional WWE female, someone with a prior career as an NBA dancer. Layla was probably my favorite WWE female worker of the last decade and she was an NBA dancer with a head of curly hair too, so Borne is my new dark horse favorite! I second Phil that I really dug the SxS and was sad to see it so short-lived. I must be in a good mood as I liked this a bunch too. Borne is clearly green but I liked all the stuff she went for and thought she was good at taking offense. Deeb had a nasty gutbuster, nice left jab and decent spear. Borne had good body charisma, a cool sliding headbutt, dug her cocky pinfalls, although she probably had too much bod for her outfit. Her movements were clearly heel, but that outfit was threatening to turn babyface. I was surprised how much I dug this, but the basics were sound. Good start to the tourney so far.

3. Shayna Baszler vs. Zeda

PAS: Perfect first match for Baszler, Zeda apparently has some MMA training, so she is willing to take an asskicking, which is what Shayna dished out. It was striking how much better her shots looked then the brief flashes of Zeda offense, and Shayna has a great contemptuous smirking heel charisma, I can imagine how great her beating the shit out of Bayley will be. That finishing suplex into a choke is awesome looking, I have seen it before, but here it almost looked like a jackhammer before the choke. Very excited to watch Shayna in this.

ER: So awesome to see Baszler make it this far after probably less than 2 years in wrestling. She's obviously been an extremely quick learner and had great instincts from her first match. And I agree with Phil, it was a good debut look at Baszler. Zeda wasn't really designed to do much here, but I liked a couple little things she snuck in, like diving in with a downward strike elbow before a pinfall attempt. Baszler's cocky heel who can basically tap you at any time is always cool, and I can see it being just slightly tweaked into a badass babyface persona. That finisher is flat out sick, it feels reckless but you see how smoothly she locks in that choke and you know she dropped her exactly how she wanted. Really getting into this tourney.

4. Abbey Laith vs. Jazzy Gabert

PAS: This was a pretty great match where it was clear the wrong lady went over. Jazzy comes in looking like if Brigitte Neilson in Rocky IV had Dolph Lundgrens physique. She was totally awesome and scary and had the violent offense to live up to the appearances. I loved her blocking the armdrag, and her fast combo in the corner, as well as that brutal forearm (which Laith sold great.) I never really bought any of Laith's kicks, and think she should have stuck with stick and move attacks (also she needed to clean off some of her clown makeup, she looked like she was doing a Raggedy Ann gimmick). I liked the finish, and that kind of roll up was a reasonable way for Laith to go over. Still Gabert came off like a super star and really should have been at least in the final four.

ER: Phil and I are really synced up on this one so far (though it's not exactly a reach that both of us immediately thought of Brigitte Nielsen upon seeing Gabert). I think it took until the 2nd episode of CWC for us to have differing opinions. I've seen Kimber Lee a bunch and like her, never seen Gabert before, and the opening of this is a blast. Abbey gets the crowd immediately frothed by taking the fight right at the monster, and the forced splits reversal spot looked awesome. Gabert's kneeling strikes to the chest and back of the neck looked nasty, and that cobra clutch can opener made me pray for a Bazler/Gabert showdown at some point. The added body scissors made it look twice as brutal. Gabert's shoulderblocks in the corner were big league too, aiming right into Laith's ribs and sternum instead of the stomach which is more typical. Gabert spinning Laith by the arm into a nasty elbow looked better and more plausible than any Rainmaker I've ever seen Okada hit. I agree that Abbey's kicks to the chest could have used some extra mustard, but thought her step up enziguiri looked class, and her pump kicks looked good. I was shocked when that wicked lariat and mounted punches didn't end the match, couldn't believe it when she stood up in the middle of the punches. I agree that Gabert looked like the one who should advance, but I thought the finish worked great: Gabert had gone for that Gory bomb type move a couple times in the match and Laith kept reversing it, this time she locked in the alligator clutch for the pin, the move that she put over pre-match as being used by Mae Young, and passed down to Laith's trainers, and taught to her. So I think it was satisfying within the tournament, even if it deprives me of more Gabert.

ER: Really fun first episode and made me more excited for the rest of this. Now there are always gonna be matches in these things where you want both people to advance, and I'm sure we're going to get a couple other matches where we want neither person to advance. Here I'm bummed I won't get to see more Borne or Gabert, as I'm sure one of the other episodes will have a Ho Ho Lun type that inexplicably advances. Still, first ep was an easy win.

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Monday, August 28, 2017

Monday Night Recipe: Sweet Kurisu Bacon Hash

Shinya Hashimoto vs. Masanobu Kurisu (NJPW 8/3/90)

ER: When you're making a sweet Hash and it contains delicious Kurisu'd bacon, you know the recipe is going to call for extra potatoes. Tons of potatoes. Hash brings big kicks and within a minute it looks like Kurisu is gonna fold, but he manages to catch a leg and tries to drag Hash to the floor. Hash is a predictably difficult man to drag anywhere, and whenever they're in the ring Hash controls. Kurisu still manages to land headbutts but Hash mixes up all the shots, big uppercut here, beastly chops there, and is mostly good about staying out of Kurisu's danger zone. Kurisu eventually does get to use that chair, and really plasters Hash with it, throws it at him, tries to blindside him, and this allows him to take over with tons of great thrust kicks to Hashimoto's face. Kurisu worked this almost like a Fujiwara/Necro Butcher blend, right down to catching a kick the exact same way Fujiwara would. Kurisu's shortcuts could only take him so far, and before long he's taking some of the grossest DDT bumps you've seen. We've gotten so used to acrobatic flippers taking pin straight DDTs and making them seem normal, that you see Hashimoto attempt to flatten vertebrae. Seeing Hash do a few DDTs and seeing the way Kurisu takes them, and it's impossible to not see it as a devastating finisher. I love these two, and this was more than you could ever hope for between them. A dream match that lived up to its billing. There was not one shot in this match that landed soft, a true celebration of potatoes.

PAS: What a cool matchup. Kurisu is my favorite all time puro indy crowbar. A balding dumpy looking dude who hits quite a bit harder then is called for. Hashimoto is also willing to hit harder then necessary, and won't take any bullshit from an FMW scrub. Kurisu keeps trying to draw Hashimoto to the floor where he could smack him with the chair. Hash and Kurisu smack the crap out of each other in the ring but Hash obviously has the advantage. Kurisu is able to take over when finally gets Hash outside where he can recklessly crack him with a chair. It can't last forever though and Hash absolutely plants him with a bunch of DDT's at weird unsafe angles. I totally loved this, exactly what you want from this matchup. a couple of guys with a tendency to be unprofessional, losing their cool.

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Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Bad News Berzerker Goes to Japan: Part 6

70. Stan Hansen/John Nord vs. Steve Williams/Johnny Ace (AJPW 1/29/94) - GREAT

ER: What a neat little match. Would you have guessed that Stan Hansen would be working 7 minutes of FIP and only hit one move in the entire match? I know I wouldn't have guessed that. But that's what we get, and seeing vulnerable Stan Hansen is pretty weird. Ace beats him over the back with the edge of a chair, and Dr. Death works him over with vertical suplexes and shoulderblocks and respectable lariats. Death works him over with a single leg crab that he turns into an STF, and it's just weird seeing Hansen down for so long. When he finally tags in Nord you get Nord - a giant man - working as the biggest ever Robert Gibson. He comes in with a super high dropkick, flying shoulderblock, drops a big leg, drops a big knee, he's just working a gigantic lightheavyweight hot tag. But before long Hansen is back in, and Johnny Ace with his weird double peace sign trunks continues to get improbably long control segments. Ace even gets a plausible nearfall with an Ace Crusher. Death and Nord spill to the floor and we sadly cut away right when Nord is kicking at Death's face. Ace gets a sharp back elbow in the corner and tries to get Hansen to the top rope, which is stupid. Hansen kicks him away and adjusts the elbow pad on his left arm. The crowd shits their pants at the exact same time. But even though he cuts low on that lariat, Ace manages to duck. He attempts another Crusher, but Hansen punches him in the gut, and then swings his left arm as hard as he can at Ace's face. Hansen, forever a man who understands the importance of all the little things, holds Ace's right arm down with his hands, and kneels on Ace's left arm. The pinfall is a given. An unexpected and satisfying match.

71. Stan Hansen/John Nord vs. The Patriot/Johnny Ace (AJPW 2/19/94) - VERY GOOD

ER: The Patriot always seemed like a weird gimmick to take to Japan. The fans really respond to him as a babyface though. His hot tag and nearfall on Hansen gets the biggest reaction of the match. It says a lot about our country to imagine that situation in reverse and not being able to picture the same reaction. Imagine a Japanese national coming to WWE, draped head to toe in Japanese flag attire, whose whole gimmick is that he loves Japan more than anything in the world. Imagine any wrestler from any country coming into the US and getting a strong babyface reaction due to loyalty to their home country. Maybe I'm giving the Japanese fans too much credit. Maybe they're just fans of hot bodies and high dropkicks. Are hot bodies and high dropkicks the universal language? This match is joined with Ace working FIP, and it's interesting how generous Hansen always is to Ace when they're working across from each other. Hansen will still rough him up - and he definitely roughs him up in this one with some gross knees to the face - but also always bumps big for Ace's elbow shots and always lets Ace suplex him. Ace can come off kinda sandbaggy at times, but he does tighten things up with Hansen, so the elbow strikes at least look worthy of Hansen bumps. Ace seems like he is purposely trying to make Nord look like shit, but luckily Nord is huge enough that he can just muscle his way past it. The falling powerslam he does in this match is possibly his most epic ever, just deadlifting Ace up, screaming out a shout worthy of leading men into war, and attempting to pulverize him through the mat. Nord gets to break out his awesome backwards bump over the top after a double Ace/Patriot shoulderblock, and Ace shows he is clearly acting like a dick to Nord by kicking him in the eye a couple times when he tries to get back inside. Before long Nord drags him to the floor, leaving Hansen alone with Patriot. Sure, Patriot is in control when Ace leaves, but you know that ain't going to last. Patriot does hit his impressive full nelson slam for a nice nearfall. But Hansen kicks out, charges in to eat a Patriot boot, Patriot foolishly charges at him...and runs chin first into a Western lariat. I wish Nord would have gotten a pinfall in one of these tag matches (and maybe he did in some of the ones that weren't taped), but this was still a good time.


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Saturday, August 26, 2017

Metalico, Policeman & Arkangel: Three Friends Doing a Bit

Metalico, Policeman & Arkangel vs. Tigre Rojo Jr., Arkalis & Millenium (CMLL 1/2/17)

ER: Metalico and Policeman and Arkangel may be my favorite three wrestlers who are usually in matches that aren't very good. And here we have the three of them teaming for what is - at least from what I could tell - the first time, on tape. And they work it like three friends doing a bit. I don't know much about the tecnicos. Rojo seems the most rounded out of the bunch. Millenium is either working a gimmick 17 years expired, or 983 years into the future. Judging by his 2000 Scoot Andrews offense I think it's the former. Arkalis was also in this match. It doesn't matter because it's the rudos who are the stars. Policeman comes out literally brandishing a firearm. He just walks to the ring, unholsters his pistol and just starts aiming it around the arena, as if he was clearing the room. When he gets to the ring Tirantes politely asks him to hand over the weapon, and he does, which makes me laugh more than it should. Please, do not book Policeman in a No DQ match. We need referees to be allowed to take his firearm. Metalico comes out dressed in tan resort wear, looking like someone who would be lounging around the pool at Elliott Gould's house in the 70s. And the three of them proceed to work a few bits, like you do. Arkangel is amusing as the guy nonchalantly directing traffic, you can see him lightly waving Policeman into position a few times. Policeman is a generous bumper with some nice strikes, a guy I'm happy is showing up more often. Metalico is the real ham, and I love some of his bits. My favorite is the one after the primera, with his team losing, and he just runs out of the ring down the ramp, out of danger, to avoid eating a pinfall, then trips and falls on his face. He later does a couple variations on the Eddie Guerrero/Hector Garza "head down, eyes averted, hands behind my back" sheepish weenie. You couldn't possibly hit meeeeee, could you? Metalico throws weird lariats, comically puts boots to guys who have wronged him, laughs when Arkangel hits a sharp back elbow, does a dozen spit takes, plays to the crowd in a way a lot of guys don't do any longer; he's a guy working several bits with friends. Rojo eats a couple lariats in nasty fashion (again, he is the only tecnico here that looked like a keeper), Arkalis tries to throw a couple armdrags that don't look great, Millenium gets minimal height on a rana, but nobody watched this for the tecnicos. These three rudos have a shtick, and it's not one I'm anywhere close to tired of seeing. You get the sense that they know each other well, get the sense they have some in-jokes, all due to knowing the same lucha language. Like a roommate who can walk into your bedroom eating a bowl of cereal without announcing himself and you're totally fine with it, such are Metalico, Arkangel and Policeman.

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Friday, August 25, 2017



-Mexican Street Fight!!!! It’s a Mexican Street fight with no Mexicans. Spike and Homicide are two of the top five guys in this fed and this had some giant sick bumps and nice strikes (I really liked the really violent Dusty elbow that Spike threw). It was way too short. Too short to even be the tercera caida of a EMLL main event. For some reason they have Konan distract the ref. Isn’t this a No-DQ match? Why do you need to distract the ref? In last weeks nightstick on the pole match no one needed to distract the ref from the outside interference. But you need to distract the ref in a no-DQ Mexican Street Fight? This sets up LAX vs. Dudleys. Unfortunately Spike won’t be in that match, so far less appealing. Some indy fed that gives matches time needs to book the rematch.

-Hey this week it took three minutes for Brooks to come back to ring looking disheveled. Eric Young is building stamina. Way to go Eric!


And we're back to the SUCKAGE.

-They tape these shows two at a time. Last week the second match ended in a top rope German suplex, when the big spot in the main event was a top rope superplex. This week they book Homicide and Spike in a violent street fight and then have Angle and Samoa Joe work a W*NG arena tour brawl. They are killing their main events. I mean for a W*NG arena tour brawl Samoa Joe v Angle was better than most Kuroda arena tour brawls, but not as good as the average Hido or Leatherface one. How hard would it have been to have the street fight last week and the Roode v Hoyt match this week? I mean this was a nothing arena tour but at least it would have some sense of novelty if there hadn't already been a street fight on the same show. So these two guys tear arena apart brawling and this leads to them booking an Iron Man match for the PPV. The payoff to two guys who want to rip each other apart is an Iron man match? Is this going to be an actual iron statue of a man on top of a pole match? Winner is first to bust opponent open with the iron statue? Cause otherwise this is stupid. Oh yeah Sting and Angle clear the ring of the heels at end of show, so I was right in predicting that Angle would be back to being face. He's heel only on the odd shows? The first hour of taping?

-Cornette also books Tomko to be banned from ringside for the PPV three way when only reason I'd want to see it is for the Tomko flying around stuff. Tomko is this ridiculously game guy for a real heavyweight. The one guy in the WWE who would always take a released dragon from Benoit. Meltzer would write about Benoit spot where Benoit shoot headbutts to draw blood that it was a spot Benoit only did with people he trusted. Those people seemed to be Regal, Eddy, Jericho, and Tomko. In the WWE does X division spot fests to build to the 2005 Money in the Bank Ladder match, Tomko consistently took the biggest bumps in every match. Matches with bumpers Christian, Benoit, Edge, and Shelton Benjamin. Tomko wasn't even a participant in most of those matches, still would take the nuttiest bumps. He's totally willing to be Adam Gooch in Tracy Smothers/Bobby Eaton street fight. ( Tomko isn't as good a singles wrestler as Adam Gooch but no one in the three way title match is. Removing Tomko will really bring down the match quality. So two Cornette as match maker match making decisions that hurt the PPV. The Tomko one at least is defendable from a storytelling perspective (although has Tomko’s interference actually ever lead to Christian winning in TNA?). The rest of the time Cornette is still playing flustered comedy authority figure. Really if you’re going to book authority figure as inept bumbling figure they should go back to Zbysco. Cornette even when playing bumbling figure attempts to make his decisions sound reasonable. Zbysco said fuck it and was perfectly fine coming off arbitrary. Zbysco can actually do the type of inept Mr Furley trying to collect rent authority that Russo is writing for. And well TNA needs a Mr. Furley trying to deduce what’s going on in all the Russo “mystery angles” after mishearing Abyss and Tomko putting up a shower curtain. At least Samoa Joe had the decency to keep his pants on when harrasing Cornette.

-Why is Jeremy Borash on my TV? They already have a semi-competent backstage interviewer in Leticia. Do they really need two backstage interviewers? Eric Young is apparently so oblivious that he goes to Jeremy Borash for sex advice, “Borash is always helping girls shop he must know a lot about women”:

Eric Young “[I] needs our help, your help, you’re the love doctor”

Jeremy Borash: “ Here’s what you do Eric. Stick your finger in her butt and stimulate her prostate”

Three minutes Eric’s doubling his time week to week. He doesn’t need any advice. Traci Brooks comes over and tells Eric he has a week to find a condom. So he was only getting blown these last two weeks? That kills my prediction of a pregnancy angle. Unless its not condom he needs to get. He has a week to get some anal lube? Aww he was doing so well, he ain’t gonna last half a minute.

-Sting is a guy who has been wrestling for about twenty years at this point. Heavily pushed charismatic babyface for most of that time. But never really a guy known for his mic work. I can’t think of a single angle he was in, in all that time where he was asked to carry the bulk of the mic work. Heel Sting had Missy and Eddie Gilbert to carry the mic work. Surfer Sting could get over youthful enthusiasm on the mic and would cup his hands around his mouth and do a war whoop. Crow Sting was all about him being silent. So it’s really odd to watch how great Born Again Sting is at presenting conviction on the mic. Really Sting is single handedly carrying this Abyss storyline. It’s pretty clear that he’s writing his own stuff as his mic work is on such a different level from everyone else in this angle. For some reason this show had God awful James Mitchell sketch but no Sting mic work. Mitchell abuses Abyss infront of prison untill Abyss strikes back. Really hokey.

-James Storm tried to save the backstage Tenay/ Gail Kim interview. But no go. And what's with the tribal drums? Is Tenay scheduling his interviews when the Impact Zone is still the Universal Jungle Adventure show? Oh speaking of Tenay he was in rare form explaining the angles that the audience was watching. My favorite being when the Voodoo Kin Mafia announced thay were "going to Michael Hickenbottom's home town of San Antone". Tenay: "San Antone, that's what they call San Antonio where Michael Hickenbottom is from". Does the audience really need to be told that San Antone is San Antonio??

-and then there was the Voodoo Kin Mafia. Remember when the Voodoo Kin Mafia came out weeks ago, "shot"on "DX"and the crowd started a "DX Sucks chant"? Tonight the crowd is indifferent and the promotion had to edit in crowd noise. The crowd wants to chant hatefull shit about the WWE but this angle is about portraying TNA as fools and the crowd meets it with nothing.

Mike Tenay “What more do they[Voodoo Kin Mafia] need to do? [to get Mcmahon’s attention]”. Couple weeks back BG James talked about the Millionaire Ted skits and the shots at Jane Fonda “as tasteless” but “you don’t like it [Vince]when the shoe is on the other foot” Have the James Gang taken any shots that felt below the belt? Things that you go “ooh that’s got to smart”? Anything? The Billionaire Ted skits to whatever degree they worked, worked because they were preaching to the choir (WWE fans who felt like their favorite brand was in jeopardy) and because they were tasteless (the WWE choir went ooh that’s gotta hurt Ted to hear that). The kind of tasteless booking used to be Russo’s bread and butter. It’s not like it’s hard to book tasteless angle that takes shots at McMahon family.

Have Dutch Mantell lead a stable of brawling cowboy bounty hunters. Randy Culley has passed and don’t know if Black Bart still works but still plenty of veterans and youngsters who can work southern brawling rudo( Bunkhouse Buck, Todd Morton, Scotty Blaze, Mike Booth, Frank Parker, Otto Schwantz, Rob Mcbride, Doug Gilbert, Mack Truck Gary Stevens,Ryan Boz maybe Brad Attitude,etc.).

Dutch and 2 members of his gang attack the James Gang. Dutch gets on the mic and announces that “We are Stephanie’s Filthy Dirty Rotten Posse and Stephanie has sent us to invade TNA to find the real father of her child. We all know that Paul is too filled with roids to be the father and so we’re here to get some of your blood BG..and she thinks she may need some of your blood too Kip, she's got a whole list of possible fathers but we've come to get blood out of both of you”. This allows Kip and BG to make a lot of cracks about how it could be just about anyone. Allows Kip to lead crowd in "Stephanie's Posse Stinks" chants. Run lots of tag brawls and just when the James Gang have defeated two member of Mantell’s group they get blind sided by another three…leading Don West to exclaim “Damnit there’s another member in Steph’s Filthy Posse? Just how damn big is her Posse?” Tenay:” Damn her foul Posse.”

West: “Just when you think we’ve seen the last member to infest her disease ridden Posse, another three show up.”

It’s a one joke gimmick but I have confidence that Mantell, West, BG and Kip can stretch the joke out for at least five months. I mean there are a ton of things you can do with it.

Bring in Robert Fuller for a one shot appearance as “biggest member in Steph’s Posse”.

Dutch Mantell compliments Jay Lethals wrestling says "You're real good, we'd love to have you help understand of course you'd only be helping. You can't be in Steph's Rotten Posse. Her husband won't let black members in her Posse."

Lethal: "What?

Dutch: “I’m sorry boy, she says that she won’t have a colored man in her posse"

Lethal attacks

Don West: "Stephany wouldn't have a black man in her Posse. And now he's tearing right through it;

He's just nailing her Posse with stiff rapid fire chops.

Man look at the welts Lethal has left on Steph's Posse".

Next week Mantell introduces Necro Butcher to deal with Lethal:

Dutch: “This is Dylan; the most dangerous, filthy, diseased, deformed member to ever be in Steph’s Dirty Posse”.

Put Lethal and Necro in a PPV singles match set up that way and you would make Lethal.

Kip James: Stephanie's Rotten Posse makes me sick.

Kurt Angle: Yeah that happened to me too. A little penicilin clears it right up.

By the end of six months you probably have completely run through the Angle v. Joe stuff and still need a couple more months to work out Karelin's visa issues, its fine place to side drain Angle. As six man’s with James Gang against quality brawlers would be a good way to keep from exposing Angle.

Dutch: We need blood samples from you too. Always figured there was a reason you wouldn't submit to the tests. I mean you don't do drugs there must have been something else you were hiding.

Angle : I have plenty of experiece making Steph's Posse submit.

West: Angle has beaten her Posse into submission.

Tenay:Angle and the James Gang have left Stephanie's Rotten Posse a bloody mess.

Pretty much with the right group of Southern rudos you can mix anyone in.

Shark Boy: “Well see I was working a dark match up north and…it happened. Leaving the arena this sea hag snatched me by my fin...and well the smell of chum was too much to resist. But still not my baby. I used protection. I wouldn't let my shark babies swim in anything that poluted”.

Mike Tenay:I want to talk about a true hero. Whatever you think of Shark Boys adolescent behavior in the past. I think we can say today that he is no SharkBoy but instead a real Sharkman".

Backstage Kip James: Wow knew she was a slut. But she went after the lil shark?

Angle: She loves animals

Christian: Jericho always worried about her puppy.

I mean you probably want to be careful with the bestiality jokes, as think the secret is to keep it simple. No Russo “swerve”, Hemme does not announce that she’s a hermaphrodite and might be the father or anything like that. Need to tell Russo no transexuals and no incest...yeah you probably don't do the bestiality joke either. Key is to hammer home the slut/whore premise and not get distracted with other fetishes.

By years end you have Mantell’s stable reach full on N.W. O. size (Bart, Frank Parker, Jimmy Golden, Tracy Smothers, Eddie Golden, Todd Morton, Mike Barton, Mike Booth, Scotty Blaze, Beau James, Rob Mcbride,Frank Murdoch, Ryan Boz, Otto Schwantz, Jack Victory, Scotty McKeever, George Hines, Mitch Ryder, Jerry Stubbs, Gary Stevens, Scott Powers, Chris Steele, KC Thunder, Briscoes, Dennis Stamp, etc.)

Don West: “That’s a whole lot of talent in Steph’s filthy Posse”

Tenay “Her Posse must be stretched to capacity”.

West “Biggest Posse in all of wrestling”.

I'm not a fan of this type of one joke angle, I got tired of the puns while writting this and at the point you bring in "Tulsa Tornado" Dennis Stamp the joke really has more than run its course. But you can mix anyone into it, it can go anywhere on the card and the angle gives you a ton of good matches that allow you to stretch the one joke out for a long time.

Most importantly the premise of the tasteless joke accomplishes several things: (1) The premise that TNA is being attacked by bounty hunters sent by WWE establishes that TNA is on the established fed (WWE)'s radar ; (2) The premise that Stephany is a slut/whore preaches to the choir of TNA fans ( as well if there is one thing I've learned in the years I've been following the sheets and the internet is that you can't do wrong appealing to wrestling fans misogyny), it even gives the TNA fans a hatefull thing about WWE to chant "Stephany's Pussy stinks!"; and (3) the premise of the joke is that Mcmahon's grandchild is a bastard of questionable parentage, that Helmsley is cuckolded, and that Stephany has a stinky snatch--it is a premise that feels tasteless enough that the audience will think “ooh that’s below the belt” (I doubt McMahon would be offended, but Helmsley is known to be overly sensitive, and Stephany is infamous for deciding to get breast enhancement after seing a audience poster that said she had "saggy" breasts).

Instead TNA has run an angle where (1) they’ve portrayed themselves as being so insignificant that they are beneath the established fed (WWE)’s radar. (2) Instead of preaching to the choir they have portrayed themselves as such buffoons that in tonight’s segment they had to pump in crowd noise. They had to pump in crowd noise in iMPACT zONE. The people in the iMPACT zONE will chant and cheer for anything and they were clearly forced to edit in crowd chants. And (3) not done anything tasteless enough for crowd to believe that WWE would be offended.

Mike Tenay “What more do they need to do? [to get Mcmahon’s attention]”. BG James “it’s been four weeks and no response. Vince you cannot solve a problem by simply ignoring it”. Stop ignoring us. We are not to be ignored. God these guys come across as sad and ineffectual. Tenay asks “what more do they need to do?”, I ask “what have they actually done?”. What exactly have BG James and Kip James done that would constitute a “problem”? Vincent McMahon is working a feud with Donald Trump, why should he care about these two goofs. Forget “why should the real Vincent McMahon care about these two goofs?” question and think “Why should storyline Vincent McMahon care about these two storyline goofs?”. What have they done that would bother him storyline wise? They’ve advertised WWE house shows, and egged a Target. They’re surprised that there has been “no response” ? By the iMPACT zONE’s silence it’s clear that the fans aren’t surprised at the lack of response. The crowd is as indiffferent as Vince McMahon. Shitty booking.

I don't particularly care for "shoot angles” where you make fun of the opposition in an effort to create fan loyalty. But that's the goal of this angle, and it fails horribly. The James Gang aren't the most talented guys out there but damn this really feels like a waste of their talents. They deserve better.

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Thursday, August 24, 2017

2017 Ongoing MOTY List: Gladiator v. Gunner

38. Gladiator Jeremiah v. Gunner Miller Anarchy Wrestling 6/10

PAS: This was also very good stuff. This was a Captain's match for the WarGames match, with the winner's team getting the advantage. Jeremiah (aka Slim J) is one of the most underrated great wrestlers of this century. Outside of a brief ROH run, he has worked pretty exclusively in the South and is always well worth watching. He seems to be a bit more ground based with the Jeremiah gimmick, but he has great bumping and a ton of intensity. He takes over early on Miller really pounding on him, until Miller is able to grab a big boot and hyperextend Jeremiah's knee. Then Miller really rips at the knee and the match is built around Jeremiah fighting back with a bad wheel. Finish run was really great with Jeremiah's bumping making Miller's football tackle and diving headbutt spear look brutal. This was the first time these two had wrestled each other in a singles and their chemistry was great, I hope Anarchy runs this match back, and I am suitably pumped for War Games.

ER: Man I really missed out on tons of Slim J. I wrote him off pretty much immediately. I saw him on an early TNA weekly PPV in a throwaway trios where he was pretty much positioned to be the least impressive guy in the match, and sure enough, I wasn't impressed. He was probably a teenager, and I was barely not a teenager. Now 15 years later I think he's consistently the best guy in his matches and I just kinda want to find the point where he got really great. Because he's really great. And it still seems like people are writing him off (his 2.69 rating on Cagematch is a cruel kick to the dick. The fucking Boogeyman is at 4.25!). The guy moves like a star and makes offense look deadly. Right from the start the two of them tease a lock up and after a few moments Jeremiah just cracks Gunner in the jaw in the meanest fashion, and all his shots look great and he comes up with some neat ways of catching Miller off guard (loved his little headscissor feint in the ropes). Miller eventually starts ripping into his knee, including some nasty stuff around a ring post, and all the knee stuff was real good. They kind of abandon it to go into a hot finishing sequence, but the moves in the finishing sequence hit big enough to make me forget a knee ever got worked over. Jeremiah gets a wild tornado DDT, and Miller has a few moves that pretty much involve him flinging his larger body into Jeremiah, and Jeremiah bumps like mad for it. Really both guys just make each other's stuff look like kill shots. Finish is good as Bailey distracts Jeremiah, and shows he's STILL the best sneak shot leg hooker in the game, swiping hard and fast at J's leg, leading to Miller absolutely knocking his block off with a flying forearm. Yeah, these two need to fight again.


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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Put the Bottle on the Table, Stay Until Black Terry isn't Able

Black Terry/Dr. Cerebro/Cerebro Negro  v. Tortugas Ninjas 7/12/15 IWRG-GREAT

We don't see this kind of old school lucha title matches anymore.  Tortugas are a fun comedy spot fest team, but here they wrestle pretty straight forward and are really good at it. Leo has a long mat section where he looks like he belongs with Black Terry. I could have used a longer second and third fall, but all of the work was great, Dr. Cerebro footage has been spotty in the last couple of years, but he looked like a world beater here, violent and graceful.


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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Dixie has Explosives Duct Taped to his Spine

Dixie v. Insane Dragon JAPW 11/8/02 - GREAT

PAS: This is a lumberjack straps match for the JAPW light heavyweight title and is the climax of a Dixie v. Insane Dragon feud I had no memory of existing. Total crazy sprint, with some awesome lumberjack work by the JAPW roster, most lumberjack matches have guys throw a weak forearm or two before they push someone into the ring, here every time either guy gets toss out they get stomped like a gang initiation. Outside breaks out into a wild violent brawl with the whole promotion, leading Insane Dragon to do a crazy dive on to the floor on the crowd. The ref gets caught up in the melee and bumped. Insane Dragon does a low angle springboard 450 (the Charity Hall ceilings are really low, so there is no height) where he lands his shin across Dixies face. Deranged grabs a ref shirt and counts the pin, only to turn on Insane Dragon and CTE him with some chairshots. Whole match was maybe six minutes, but it was a nutso six minutes.

ER: I have no memory of these two ever fighting each other in a singles (apparently it happened a couple times) but they go after each other just as hard as they go after everyone else. Izzy does his flipping kick right under Dixie's chin, Dixie makes Izzy bite the bottom rope and then kicks him in the back of the head. The action outside the ring is just as much fun as a bunch of big fat dudes throw stiff shots to the brothers and to each other, total chaos. Papadon and Mack slug it out, Magic and Suba look gigantic and throw bombs, EC Negro eats a punch, and tons of fat guys in XXXL football jerseys make up the fanbase. These two are nuts, always finding new ways to spike themselves on DDTs, making up weird moves out of botches (at one point Dragon goes for a springboard 450 and overshoots a bit, winds up dropping his shin over Dixie's throat), and bounce around like they're covered in flubber. More!


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Monday, August 21, 2017

Lucha Worth Watching: CMLL 8/11/17

Mercurio/Pierrothito vs. Shockercito/Stukita (CMLL 8/11/17)

ER: Hot Arena Mexico opener with these guys not slowing down for a second. Stukita stumbles on one quebrada and that's it, the rest of this was don't look back. Mercurio is a real fun ham, he knows how to mock a tecnico and get his comeuppance. He'll run great misdirection spots like sending Shockercito into the ropes and forcing him to duck under a Pierrothito leapfrog, and he'll be right there waiting on the other side with a stiff kick to the chops. But he knows how to do those same set ups to effectively make himself look like a boob, cockily playing to the crowd and then accidentally kicking Pierrothito in the chops. Mercurio is kind of ridiculous, wearing as much dayglo as Neon Joe: Werewolf Hunter and mocking the short (I mean, he's short, but they're shorter, and as our doofus leader has shown us you always gotta pick on people for the things you're most insecure about) tecnicos mercilessly. Shockercito is a real nutter and hits arguably the minis spot of the year, getting monkey flipped off the apron by Pierrothito into a rana to Mercurio on the floor. The rudos run traffic and shine when needed (again, Mercurio is hammy as hell and even threw in a tope of his own), really drawing the fans into it, and the tecnicos know how to bring the flash. Shockercito is arguably the best of the current tecnico minis and this was a nice showcase for all.

Rush vs. Diamante Azul (CMLL 8/11/17)

ER: We get a hot opener, and we get a hot semi-main singles match. Rush comes with the working (tassel) boots on and Diamante feels like a lucha star now. You can tell he's getting good by watching him on the rampway in the segunda. After taking a stiff suplex on the ramp Rush disappears (for probably too long) getting a piece of plasterboard. Diamante nobly gets up from this suplex, timing it so he isn't just lying down waiting for Rush, but not so quick that he's then standing around like a doofus. He's just slowly but strongly standing up, looking around Arena Mexico like he doesn't know where Rush the monster ran off to. Rush blasts him with a couple belly to bellys, dropkicks him hard in the chest, and Diamante stands up to all of it. He ends up hitting rush with a tope headbutt and Rush flings himself hard and stupid backwards into the first row. Some old man throws his entire soda on him. Rush throws in some fun bullshit like grabbing ref Edgar's arm on a close count, but Azul pins Rush clean in the tercera. That feels like a big step. This could be the mask vs. hair match-up, and it could be good. They need to be really careful with who gets to take Rush's hair. It feels like Rush needs to take someone's mask before someone takes his hair. I don't think he's taken a mask before and it feels like he really needs a good one to at to his legend.

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Sunday, August 20, 2017

Wait, Summerslam is Today!? WWE Summerslam 2017 Not Live Blog

I forgot this was on today! Whoops!

1. Hardy Boys/Jason Jordan vs. Miz/Bo Dallas/Curtis Axel

ER: Wow they really started this one early. This is essentially an empty arena match, wouldn't be shocked if there were thousands of people still trying to filter in. It sounds like there is nobody there, real quiet crowd. We do eventually get a Brother Nero chant so it's something. Corey Graves wonders if Jordan's career is going to stall similar to Curtis Axel's career, as Jordan is wrestling in a pre-show match taking place in front of a fraction of the crowd. Jordan has some really bad hot tag offense. His back elbows were an embarrassment. But his spine shortening corner spear looks good. He hits a few of them here. This wasn't much. It had a nice stupid Jeff Hardy bump on the turnbuckle, but I have no clue why they held this match so damn early in the night. It seriously looked like they were just trying out their match in the ring before fans got there. Weird choice.

2. Adrian Neville vs. Akira Tozawa

ER: They work this one at a pretty decent slow pace, with Neville grinding in stomps and reclined headlocks, looking miserable and grumpy. Crowd wakes up with a killer Tozawa dive, cracking Neville with a forearm on the dive. Loved the spot where Neville catches a springboarding Tozawa on his shoulders, and Tozawa maneuvers into a nasty octopus hold. Neville whips Tozawa's arm violently into the mat and Tozawa's anguished scream makes me believe in the violence. It doesn't seem to go anywhere interesting, as moments later Tozawa is climbing up for a top rope senton and Neville is a guy who can take a front suplex off the top in ugly fashion. Finish came off kinda weak, as Tozawa hits knees on a senton (but not really) and Neville hits the red arrow to Tozawa's back (even though it landed lighter than any other red arrow I've seen from him). Flat finish, mostly flat match. Real shame as I think this might have been the weakest of their matches. Neville does wear & carry that belt nicely, so I think the result makes sense.

ER: I'm not a guy with a lot of sneaker style, but Otunga's purple and gold Ait Otungas are perfect flash. And I FF through the Elias Sampson Son House cosplay. I was the music director at a college radio station in the 2000s, I heard enough beardy white guys playing folk/blues. There's a new Iron & Wine album in my inbox if I'm that interested in listening to beard folk with my pro wrestling.

3. Usos vs. The New Day (Big E/Xavier Woods)

ER: Weird to see these teams shunted to the pre-show as well. Usos have been doing their career best work as heels, but it's weirdly been their least profile work. They're real mean with Woods and Woods is a guy who can build some sympathy to a hot tag. I love the heel Usos now-staple move of building their opponent for a hot tag, only for one of them to yank down the guy from the apron right when the tag is getting made. They did it to perfection in the American Alpha series, andI liked it here too: Woods finally getting there one Uso running himself into the post but still hitting his mark yanking Big E down. New Day's run of offense is real fun when it happens, Woods hits a weird flipping wheelbarrow that slam's Jey's face into the mat, then gets E on his shoulders to whip E into a splash. Usos hit a double back suplex on E and he eats a huge hip attack in the corner. The uranage/back stabber timing was off, so it wasn't pretty, but it was still a guy getting slammed into another guy's knees, so the pain is there. The rope running forearms is a silly spot, but at least the guys were landing. I like Woods breaking out headbutts and Jimmy takes a big bump over the floor off a lariat. Big E eats a nutso top rope apron splash as he's draped over the bottom rope, and Woods kicking out of a top rope splash is a nice nearfall. Woods hits a nasty tornado DDT on the floor and New Day hits a combo big ending/leaping DDT, but Jimmy makes the surprise save. They keep upping the crazy, as they toss Woods from the ring to the floor for an alley oop Samoa drop, and then Big E hits the "can't believe they still let him do that" spear to the floor. I really disliked the rest of it though, as Jimmy is back on the apron 10 seconds after taking that spear, which feels like way too little time. That move is so risky and spectacular looking, but it was sold far less than many moves in this match. The double big splash finisher always looks epic, but my interest dropped out when that spear was treated as a transition move. Still, overall killer match, hated the layout of the finish.

4. John Cena vs. Baron Corbin

ER: Usos/New Day delivered them a nice molten crowd for this match. The "where's your briefcase?" is a fun chant to get under Corbin's skin, and he has no problem showing ass by letting it get to him. I really liked Cena hitting his sloppy dropkick, only for Corbin to get bounced in the ropes  and come off with a right hand. Cena sells that right hand better than anybody will sell most things tonight. Match starts getting great when Cena actually misses the five knuckle shuffle, and then Corbin does an insanely high chokeslam right onto his own knee, with Cena dropping onto the back of his head. Cena's new thing is apparently taking a rough drop on the back of his head every match. Between this and the Nakamura suplex drop, this is a bad trend. Cena sidesteps Corbin and sends him sliding to the floor, then blasts him with a lariat and AA for the win. Cena should just use that lariat as his new secondary finisher. It looks great, but he criminally only uses it in quick thrown off comebacks. It has the thump to mean more. Fun match.

5. Natalya vs. Naomi

ER: Natalya exists in a weird place in my brain, as I can't stand her personality but I realize I enjoy her wrestling more than most, especially when she works heel. She should always work heel. I don't think the green/orange cyber rave look is working for Naomi. She looks like someone passed out in the grass at the Electric Daisy Carnival, or a cut extra from Strange Days, or someone about to be slaughtered in the Daft Punk "One More Time" video. Natalya hits a mean snap suplex and throws nice short elbows to Naomi's temple, and seems to take Naomi's complicated headscissor moves better than most. Natalya doesn't take short cuts on things like stomach kicks (though she doesn't know how to occupy herself in the ropes very well while Naomi does the slingshot legdrop). Cool spot where Natalya catches a kick and slams Naomi's leg straight into the mat, forcing her to do the splits. Natalya also locks on one of the better sharpshooters, and there have been some people with genuinely terrible sharpshooters over the years. Natalya always gets a great low base which sets her's apart. I still didn't expect her to get the belt, but I think it's for the best. Naomi works better as someone chasing a title, I didn't really find her reign itself that memorable.

6. Big Cass vs. Big Show

ER: I...don't know why I'm actually excited for this match, but I am. Enzo in the shark cage is so stupid, Show is working on a busted right hand...and I think that's it. I love giants working a vulnerability. It's why I loved Andre in the last few years, he was this mammoth man who was in crippling pain, so it gave him this who air of vulnerability. So Show with a bad hand is money. Cass is dry as desert for me, but I liked him weaselly going after Show's bad hand, hammering it with fists, kicking it, and Show's devotion to throwing lefty lariats. Cass goes back to the hand, slams it into the ringpost, and I like how Cass always reverts to working like such a little guy. He's billed as 7' yet he always instinctively starts working like he's trying to make up 100 pounds on a guy. It's like when Edge working HHH, you'd see people saying "this was a good big guy/little guy match" even though Edge was as big as HHH. Match finish is a total fart noise as Enzo amusingly greases himself up to escape from the cage...but then just hops to the mat and eats an immediate big boot, followed by Show going down just as easy. Super anticlimactic. I don't mind Enzo immediately getting toasted, but he could have done any other thing other then just hop down. You have him missing a crossbody, or him getting caught on a crossbody and used on Big Show, those seems like better avenues to a Cass win. I just don't see Cass ever amounting to anything, even if he does eventually get a title because of his size.

7. Randy Orton vs. Rusev

ER: I really dislike how much of a joke Rusev looks like. I loved his first Gable match, loved him wrecking Gable in the rematch, and am just totally sick of Orton. So we get Rusev jumping him in a sneak attack, and Orton still catching him with an RKO. Rusev to his credit took the RKO in a nasty snap, but man who cares about this.

8. Sasha Banks vs. Alexa Bliss

ER: Banks comes out with an awesome boss cloak that the announce team totally ignores it. And the crowd is noticeably quiet after that Cass match and the Orton non-match. But these two start to get them back. Bliss hits a middle rope version of the double knees and then the double knee moonsault, and that really feels like something that should be more than an early match spot. They try some new things that work, like Bliss getting the back of her head whipped into the buckles, and I especially like Bliss yanking the ring skirt and causing Sasha to slip off the apron. Very cool, subtle spot, timed right when Sasha's foot hit the skirt. I thought the ending was a bit abrupt since they took their time getting there. Sasha has built much better finishes with Nia and Charlotte, but the match itself was fine. It seems a little flat to do a title change here, just an hour after Naomi lost the title. But this show has been all about surprising or weird finishes so far.

9. Bray Wyatt vs. Finn Balor

ER: Finn is a demon, but a demon with really lousy strikes and a running forearm that misses Bray Wyatt's face by a foot. He would have mostly whiffed a flip dive but Wyatt leapt in and to his left. Wyatt makes me interested in the match by suplexing Finn on the floor, but Finn as a demon is so hokey to me that I can't stay in for long. Finn does some more light running forearms, not even leaving his feet, and at least his double stomp from the apron to the floor on Bray's neck looked good. Finn hits the lightest slingblade I've ever seen and man does this demon stink. Wyatt generously sells Finn's light dropkick on the floor by flying into the barricade, and Wyatt hits a nice clothesline back in the ring. This was not much of a match, I just cannot take Balor seriously when everything he does looks so bad.

10. Cesaro/Sheamus vs. Dean Ambrose/Seth Rollins

ER: Okay, Cesaro and Sheamus look awesome in their entrance gear. Those army jackets with matching kilts, and the back to back pose making them look like they were fusing was pretty neat. Ambrose and Rollins as a team mean that I don't have to watch an Ambrose or Rollins singles match on this show, so that feels like a win. Cesaro and Sheamus should be doing more crazy power spots against these two, but I liked them catching Rollins' always-slow tope. Cesaro rips up a beach ball from the crowd, making him a hero to non-asshole live sports fans everywhere. That's too much of a face move right there. I hate when some doofus brings a beach ball to a baseball game, always cheer security when they catch and deflate. Just once I'd like to pop one. Cesaro grabs a nice front choke to prevent a tag out and I dig all the ring cut offs. The hot tag doesn't do much for me, Ambrose run looked pretty soft. I did like the jumping elbow to the floor though. The babyface double teams don't do a lot for me, but Cesaro making the save after the frog splash on Sheamus ramped things up a little. Sheamus warms my heart by kicking Ambrose in the back to stop the rebound lariat, and the double crucifix bomb was a nice visual. Match went on too long, but I liked Rollins' full extension superkicks during the finish, and like that this keeps Ambrose/Rollins tied together instead of taking up two matches on a card. Apparently all of the titles are getting changed on this show as well, though something tells me Jinder will still have his belt at the end of the night.

11. Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles

ER: I'm...beyond ready to see these two fight other people at this point. It feels like Styles has been married to Owens for months. A quick count shows that 10 of Styles' last 14 TV/PPV matches have been opposite Owens, dating back 4 months. Please, make it stop. The Shane involvement doesn't interest me as it just seems like it's going to lead to somehow another match. All the big spots in the match are built around Shane getting in the way, eating part of a 450, getting knocked through the ropes to the floor after Styles gets kicked into him, getting the big moment of shoving Styles into a nearfall schoolboy. At least they throw some nice bombs during the standing exchange, and mix up the strikes so it's not just forearms back and forth. Shane gets to repeat his shove into nearfall spot with Owens. I'm ready for the feud to end, AND the match stopped the streak of title changes. Shane's tan is ridiculous by the way. He should work a masked gimmick as Burnt Sienna.

12. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Jinder Mahal

ER: I don't think Jinder is really built to take Nakamura's offense, so it makes sense that Nak worked early parts of the match like Bugs Bunny, just getting Jinder to run into things and fall to the floor. Jinder doesn't sell kicks in interesting ways, but he takes a nice bump into the ringpost and that's a plus. Singh brothers are probably happy that they just have to take a couple knee strikes tonight instead of letting Orton dump them on their necks. They're digging their heels in on Jinder, which, whatever. It would be easier if the matches were better.

13. Braun Strowman vs. Samoa Joe vs. Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar

ER: Well this was pretty much exactly what I wanted. This is the match I was excited about a couple months ago, this was the match I wanted to see tonight, and it delivered. This was total chaos with bigger men making for bigger landings, some inventive sequences, and some great saves. Braun and Brock finally get an actual showdown. It's crazy how these two have been kept apart, as usually WWE doesn't have that kind of patience, but I don't think these two have ever crossed paths outside of a Royal Rumble. I don't think they crossed paths for more than a moment in the Rumble, either. Which was probably for the best, as it would have created a nuclear shockwave that would have likely snapped all the ring ropes and taken out the first couple rows of fans. I loved that Brock tried to suplex Braun and couldn't budge him. Braun is a real beast, starting by taking a mean shot into the post, and before long just murdering everybody. I always love the ways Brock gets taken out in multimans, and him getting flattened through two tables is a pretty great way to take him out. Braun flips a third table onto him and all the agents and medics run out to help. Finlay's presence makes me sad we never got Finlay/Brock (or Finlay vs. the others). But Lesnar is gone for now and Reigns starts unloading all of the superman punches, Joe starts trying to lock in a choke on everyone, and Braun starts Brauning all over everyone. Braun Brauns through stairs and chairs and tables and bodies...but then Brock comes back and things get even better. Vulnerable Brock is the best as I think bumping and selling is far and away his best feature. His stumbling and selling is the best in wrestling, and desperate Brock is far and away the most interesting Brock. I love him yanking the ref out of the ring, knowing it was his only chance at retaining. We get awesome moments like Brock getting bulldozed into a corner by Braun, Brock locking in a kimura, then Roman hitting a superman punch on Braun. There were a couple of moments where Roman inadvertantly saved Brock's bacon, another when Braun had Brock up but Roman hits Braun with a spear. Joe was somewhat of an afterthought, but whenever he would appear he would lock in his choke and seem just as credible as the others. These heavyweight multimans are just incredibly satisfying pro wrestling, everybody remaining protected through complicated saves, everybody looking strong by taking turns demolishing everything, playing out like a real life version of the arcade game Rampage.

PAS: This landed like a bunker bomb on the arena, and was exactly the type of Godzilla v. Mothra v. King Ghidora v. Mecha Godzilla battle you wanted it to be. What an awesome performance by Braun, it has to rank up with the greatest monster wrestling performances I can remember ever seeing. He looked so scary and destructive, while still having moments of vulnerability, when you think about all of the giants who have proceeded him and failed, it is quite the credit to his talent and the WWE booking that he has gotten to this point. He has Sid's aura and prime Giant talent, and he was incredible here. Braun destroying Brock, was as shocking as Brock destroying Cena in 8 minutes, but it allowed Brock to play roided Ricky Morton, which he is great at. Loved Roman in this too, as a guy who just looked for opening to throw shots, he found all of these cool moments to throw in superman punches and spears, and I love how they have been having him get so close to putting down Brock but failing, when he finally gets over the hump it will be a great moment. Joe was sort of marginalized, but had some cool moments (loved his Misawa elbow tope), and was certainly not hurt, glad he wasn't pinned again by the same counter.

ER: Crap show due to length. If this had happened over a normal 4 hour PPV then it would have been fine. I liked both women's matches, the Usos tag and that main event was blowaway. The lows were REALLY low, but we ended on a real special high, so...Phil and I had a long back and forth about where to put the monster main event on our 2017 MOTY MASTER LIST, and it came down to putting it at #1 or #2. It was a tough call. This match had the better finish, but Ki/Callihan somehow had even more violence. We eventually decided the next day to make it our #2 match. But it was close.

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Saturday, August 19, 2017

ALL TIME MOTY LIST Head to Head 1986: UWF v. NJ 10 Man v. Flair v. Morton

Ric Flair v. Ricky Morton NWA 7/5/86

PAS: This match starts with possibly the coolest entrance in wrestling history as Flair lands on the field of a baseball stadium in a helicopter and steps out to Also Sprach Zarathustra. Morton has a face mask and is looking for revenge as Flair and the Horseman mangled his face and broke his nose. The whole match is based around working the face, Morton goes after Flair's face, landing these awesome downward punches to the giant nose, and lots of eye rakes and cage face rakes. When Flair gets the advantage he rips off Morton's mask and bloodies him up. Super nasty way for a pair of hearthrobs to work, only one will be pretty at the end of this match. The whole feud was based around Flair being pissed that Morton was draining off the teen rats, so a match where both guys were trying disfigure each other works perfectly. Morton has awesome looking punches, and this was some of the best Flair punching I can remember, there was some Lawler level exchanges in this match, including one with both guys standing on the top rope which ends with Flair doing a top rope Flair flop, which is an awesome 80's high spot. Violent brawler Flair is the best and this was maybe the most vicious he has ever been. Finish was a bit cheap shotish, although you know Flair was going to sneak his way to a win. Loved this, so crazy it sat in a box for so many years.

ER: As far as life accomplishments/pro wrestling entrances go, it's probably impossible to beat landing in stadium in a helicopter, getting a red carpet rolled out for you, and stoically walking to the ring in your purple robe, large older women grabbing at your butt and you not breaking stride. And the match is big, important pro wrestling. Morton has a face mask from his Horseman beatdown, and Flair has a punchable face, and both take turns finally flying into the cage, across the ring, and faces get rubbed all across that cage. I love stooging more than most wrestling fans, and I am so happy that Flair dropped the stooging here and went for vicious killer. We get one "shoved by the ref" spot, but even then he doesn't stooge it like he typically does that spot: He he shoved into the ropes, parallel, and doesn't take a pratfall, doesn't flop, instead just falling into them and getting up pissed. Morton gets thrown violently into the cage and pinballs all the way across the ring, and I like when it's Flair's turn to go into the cage he takes the bump differently than Morton, instead falling down hard and fast.  Both men closed fist punch each other in the face, with Morton doing some great headlock punches, both having a standing exchange that reminds us just how terrible most "stand and throw" exchanges are in modern wrestling, and Flair throws his #1 best punch ever: He's got Ricky in the corner, looks to someone in the crowd and asks "Rock & Roll?" He waits for their unheard response, lets out a single HA! and then punches the fuck out of Morton's nose. Flair takes the monster bump of the match, doing the Flair flop off the top rope (I don't recall ever seeing him take the bump like that), which is a chiropractor's dream. Dropping face first from a standing position already doesn't feel like a natural way to land. Now you add another 5 feet of height to that fall? I would have flipped my wig seeing that bump live. The finish is downright mean as Flair crotch's Ricky on the top rope and Ricky bounces up so violently that you think he ruptured a testicle. Great, great pro wrestling, and not only did it take 25 years to see the light of day, but it took a third Flair DVD release for it to even happen.

10 Man Tag Review


ER: This was a real back-and-forth for me. These two matches are really tough to compare, the goals were so different. Even on a base level, one was based on revenge, one was based on supremacy. One had two men locked off from the world, one had 10 men with different motives and abilities. Those are two very difficult narratives to compare directly. But in this moment, the Flair match takes it for me. Flair could get mean, but this was Flair at his most vicious. A violent Flair feels like the necessary Flair to represent our list.

PAS: If Flair is going to make it back from the hospital, he is going to have to brawl like this. No begging off from the Grim Reaper, he is going to have to rip him right in the eye. Love the 10 man, it's an all time classic, but it's the Nature Boy for me.

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Friday, August 18, 2017

H Effect Are Losers and Users So Don't Need No Accusers

Wasted Youth (Insane Dragon/Deranged) v. The SAT (Joel/Jose Maximo) v. Rainchild/Jay Lethal JAPW 6/7/02 -EPIC

PAS: This is just what you want from a turn of the century skinny Jersey fliers match. Rainchild is a guy who wrestled for maybe six months, but he looked good here, especially early doing some nice fast arm drag and rana exchanges with Wasted Youth. Maximo's were working pretty stiff I don't remember them as Dynamite Kid/Beniot style juniors, but they were all about stiff chops snap suplexes and head drops. The match finishes up with a great dive train right next to the Bayonne wall, so lots of height but not a lot of distance, Lethal hits a tope where he basically piledrives his head into the concrete, but all the other dives were beautiful. Insane Dragon then gets finished off with some truly harrowing head drops, the kind of thing which you want to watch through your hands like a horror film.

ER: This was right in the middle of when I was most excited about indy wrestling, with tons of skinny hyper athletic freaks all competing to see who could take a more dangerous bump on their head, shoulder or neck, and everyone wins! I always like Rainchild, he was in an early match of the first JAPW tape I bought (against Ghost Shadow!) and I thought he was really good, was shocked to learn years later how little he actually worked. It's great seeing Lethal when he was working as a Waltman disciple, just a skinny guy dropping fast legs and dives with bad landings. I also didn't remember the SAT as Benoit disciples but I liked that here. I think they were better at dangerously dropping skinny guys with fast suplexes than working quick sequences with them. And for quick sequences you can't really do better than Wasted Youth. These guys were so fast and so damn clever, falling in ways you wouldn't expect and working sequences you had never seen before, adding new twists to familiar wrestling. I flipped when Izzy came off the topes with a double ballshot, then did a flipping dropkick (one guy for each foot) with no regard for his landing. And there were a dozen moments like that, like Rainchild doing cool dodges for Maximo clotheslines, or Izzy jumping and flipping backwards over guys to set up ranas, Deranged flipping himself onto his shoulder with a spinkick, these guys are all just fearless. The dive train is one for the ages, into the Bayonne wall as Phil said. Everyone tries to one-up and they were all a blast, even Rainchild's Space Flying Tiger Accidental Rope Bounce Tope en Reversa. Izzy not only has the best punches in the match, but also takes the nastiest bumps, getting absolutely dismantled by suplexes at the end. I can't wait to watch more of this stuff.

H Effect (Dixie/Insane Dragon/Deranged) v. JAPW Legends (Magic/J-Lover/Skinhead Ivan) JAPW 11/12/16 - FUN

PAS: Insane Dragon comes out of a nearly decade long retirement to land an awesome looking tope con hilo and take a few crazy bumps. Dixie (who had come out of retirement on the last show) still has great execution, and took Magic's insane Tiger Driver 98 style finisher right on his neck, there was some goofy over bumping by Deranged and a not great section built around J-Lover's hard head, but it was really good to see all of these Wes Hatch comp tape legends back and doing their thing.

ER: This was the match that started the idea for a Dixie/Dragon C&A, seeing these two nutbars come back and still bring their specific brand of rich kid stoner crazy was so much fun, I called Phil and suggested we revisit their entire output. We were both fans of the early 2000s NE indy scene, and shoot one of our earliest interactions was me buying Phil's Low-Ki comp tape off him. It feels appropriate. Skinhead Ivan really should be wearing a khakis and a white polo these days, needs to be more in touch with his people (though their uniform hadn't changed at this point, so he gets at least a pass on the uniform, nothing else). Deranged hits a deranged flip dive that flings him hard into his opponent AND the guard rail, Magic is still a compact powerhouse, and Izzy and Dixie still know how to die. That Tiger Driver '98 was just an insane bump to be taking, and I'm glad these guys haven't changed.

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Complete and Accurate Dixie and Insane Dragon

While watching the recent JAPW Anniversary show we were reminded how much we enjoyed these pair of skinny bump freak lunatics. Through Youth Gone Wild, Special K and H Effect they were big parts of the indy wrestling revolution, but probably never cashed a three figure paycheck. Still they had some real moments of greatness and insanity, and this will let us revisit and re-evaluate some of the bugnuts moments from turn of the century northeast indy wrestling. As always matches will be rated EPIC, GREAT, FUN and SKIPPABLE.


Insane Dragon/Deranged vs. The SAT vs. Rainchild/Jay Lethal JAPW 6/7/02 - EPIC
Insane Dragon vs. Dixie JAPW 11/8/02 - GREAT


Dixie/Insane Dragon/Deranged vs. Magic/J-Lover/Skinhead Ivan JAPW 11/12/16 - FUN

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

2017 Ongoing MOTY List: All of the Arena Mexico Dives

Cuatrero/Forastero/Sanson v. Soberano Jr./Rey Cometa/The Panther CMLL 8/4

ER: Good grief, you guys. This was on the same show as the Blue Panther/Sam Adonis hair match, and this was likely a bigger crowd than most of these men have ever performed in front of. And they fucking went for it. This was different than most Dinamitas matches, and while I like their out and out rudo tactic matches better, they also do spotfest really well. Soberano and Cometa are game to do some big spots, and so we got a match absolutely filled with wild spots. This probably had more dives and springboards than any match I've seen in a year. Soberano is really responding well to moving up the card, and he is coconuts here, like he wants to be CMLL's Aerostar. He hits a couple big dives and does a springboard into the ring by jumping about 8 times, from the rampway to the middle rope to the top rope to the inner middle rope, just Chinese acrobat stuff. Forastero is the standout Dinamita here, going toe to toe with Cometa and even showing off his own fancy flip ability. Amusing moment when Cometa is doing typical CMLL tecnico rope run handspring backflips, and at the end of the showing off Forastero does one of his own...only for Cometa to hit him with a big headscissors to get him out of the ring, and then hits another one to the floor. The crowd is piping hot and loud, everybody feeds off it, we get a springboard tornillo by Cometa, Soberano hits an absurd tornillo of his own, the tecnicos dive off the top of the entrance steps, Forastero flies into the front row from a tope, it's wall to wall insanity. It seems like on a big show you either get guys holding back so as not to outshine the main, or you get an atmosphere of enthusiasm where guys feel validated by their choice of profession. This felt like the latter.

PAS: Yeah this was total popcorn wrestling, but exactly the kind of thing you want from a match like this. I think there will be Nuevo Dinamitas matches I liked better this year, as they are fun when they slow it down and this was all action, there performance in this reminded me of the heyday of the Oficiales in IWRG, just excellent timing, huge bumping and cool double and triple teams. There was probably one or two dives too many, as they were really going for maximalism. Soberanos spin dives are beautiful looking, and he probably should have just done one big one so it is remembered. This was by far the most impressed I have been by him, as he really felt special, I also loved the Panther, sometime you want spins, and sometime you just want a bullet tope which lands like a punch in the mouth.


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Wednesday, August 16, 2017


Los Brazos (Brazo De Oro/Brazo De Plata/El Brazo) v. Rocky Star/Eddy Guerrerro/Lizmark Juarez EMLL 1988?

PAS: Well the world is going to hell, but at least we waltzing on the deck of the Titanic to the sounds of new 80s Brazos matches. This was a great quality pro-shot Juarez show, which hopefully means that more stuff like this exists. This was the earliest Eddie match I can remember, although he is more of an afterthought to the El Brazo v. Rocky Star feud. That is probably the least interesting on paper focus of any of these six guys, although it is still great stuff. Both Rocky and El Brazo bleed buckets,and El Brazo takes some nasty post bumps, El Brazo was clearly a world class 80s bleeder. This was the most serious I have seen the Brazo's work, as they were straight violent rudos including flipping off the crowd and brutalizing the babyfaces. There was some fleeting moments of Super Porky agility including a punishing superfly splash and a dive off of the ring apron. More of a cool discovery then an all time great match, but what a cool discovery.

ER: This is earlier than any Brazos or Eddy match on the 80s lucha set, and I loved this. Brazos are unhinged maniacs in this, and I thought the tecnicos did a great job. I disagree that Rocky/El Brazo is the least interesting match up as I think Rocky was the best tecnico of these three at this point, with Eddy being so young, and Lizmark not being as good as Rocky. The women in the crowd go absolutely insane for Rocky, and the handheld (yet seemingly pro shot?) camera picks up all the screams. When Rocky is really bleeding in the corner there is one woman, voice cracking, dying every step of the way with Rocky. She gets it as by the end Brazo is just coated in his own blood, soaking into his chest and sprayed down his tights. Everybody got their moments: Lizmark had a fun monkey flip segment with Oro, Eddy got a dynamic armdrag sequence with Brazo, and Porky continued to look like a damn superstar. This guy has so much charisma and at 25 was built like a tank. Young Porky flexing, posing, flipping off fans and squashing dudes while leaping around the ring with as much agility as anyone else. Brazo finds 3 different ways to run nastily into a ringpost, Rocky is a great fired up tecnico (watch him leap to the floor after Brazo after finally getting an opening), and this was an excellent find. More 80s Brazos!! More!!

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

ALL TIME MOTY LIST Head to Head 1988: Hansen/Gordy v. Tenryu/Kawada V. Brazos v. Destructores

Los Brazos (Brazo De Oro/Brazo De Plata/El Brazo) v. Los Destructores (Emilio Charles Jr./Vulcano/Tony Arce) EMLL 1988?

PAS: God bless youtube as this tasty slice of lucha libre violence just shows up one day. I didn't even know Emilio Charles Jr. was in Los Destructores and here he is trying to open up El Brazo's head like a difficult coconut. Destructores lose the first fall by DQ by removing Oro's mask, and as he goes to the back, they take a 3 on 2 advantage on the Brazo's and really beat them badly. Brazo is leaking like Reince Preibus, and they tie Plata in the corner and work his ample belly like a heavy bag. Emilio Charles is so great to watch here, the other Destructores are great, but he is on another level, just an amazing explosive brawler. Loved Porky in this too, he may be one of my favorite high flyers ever, he is such a hippo that to watch him fly around is so incongruous, and he knows how to land everything with such force. My favorite kind of holy grail, a match I had no idea existed, which shows up like a surprise present.

ER: Unseen anything popping up is always exciting, feels like something that can just keep happening forever and ever. And when it's a young mid 20s Porky I will get a little extra exciting. Destructores are all really good and them taking apart Brazos was a treat. Arce was great at crowd riling, and Charles was a vicious beast, those punches to the side of Brazo's dome looked line crossing. But I came for the chubs and I rooted for the chubs. Porky at 25 is pure joy. His leaps from the apron are insane. He gets no kind of running start, just does a huge standing broad jumps and gets frankly absurd distance for a butterball. It's fun seeing younger variations on older, fatter Porky spots, like how he just plops immediately on a sunset flip attempt, and while you're laughing he then breaks out a handspring kip up like the fattest Dynamite Kid and you're in love. His big splash off the top early in the match is an all time big splash, and after 20 years of seeing him hold teammates' hands while climbing to the top it's downright shocking to see him fly 60% of the way across the ring and just crush a man. Great find, god bless unseen lucha.

Hansen/Gordy v. Tenryu/Kawada review


PAS: Loved the trios match, so happy it showed up and it was a great showcase for excellent wrestlers in their prime. I thought it was a slight step below an all time great match though, needed a more intense finish run to really put it over the top. AJ tag is an all time great and is going to need a classic to beat it.

ER: I really liked this, but I don't think this was very close to the AJ tag. I thought portions were kind of aimless, and admittedly the poor VQ made it a little difficult to see any emotion on display. It's admittedly cheap to complain about VQ when we otherwise wouldn't have seen the match, but emotion is pretty paramount in lucha for me. What we got was wonderful, but I don't think there were any points of this match where I had it over the AJ tag.

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Monday, August 14, 2017

2017 Ongoing MOTY List: Panther v. Adonis Cabellera contra Cabellera

41. Blue Panther v. Sam Adonis CMLL 8/4

PAS: This a hair v. hair match between an all time lucha legend and a gringo with an American flag with Trumps face embroidered on it. This had all the heat you would expect from that pairing. This is probably Panther's last big CMLL main event, and he really puts in a great performance, including taking a nutty missed tope bump to the floor. Adonis gets a ton of heat, although the Trump flag is doing a lot of the work. This had a enough cool moments in the third fall to put it on the list, including an awesome Fujiwara armbar on the ramp, and Adonis draping Panther with the Trump flag and frog splashing him. Still Tirantes dropped his pants and pooped on portions of this, nothing I hate more then a heel ref, and he spent a lot of this match heat sucking, this match didn't need him to work, and watching a Trump supporter triumph over good with the help of undue collusion was a little close to home for me.

ER: Man, what the fuck with all the Tirantes? He's been in CMLL for awhile now and I don't remember him pulling his specific brand of bullshit...but I guess I hadn't had the privilege of seeing big match Tirantes. Every single thing about him was a total distraction, and I have zero clue why they thought they needed his gleeful pissing on this match. CMLL didn't draw their biggest crowd of the year because of Tirantes. The people came to see Panther whip Adonis' ass, and CMLL felt it would be best to regularly impede that whipping. You have a motherfucker who looks like Richard Spencer with Milo's shitty hair, wearing gloriously garish tights and waving a shitty trump flag on one side, and on the other side you have maybe the most sympathetic tecnico on the roster. But you know, we better jam this to the hilt with ref antics.

That the match was effective as it was is a true testament to Blue Panther: Great Wrestler, because Tirantes literally interjected himself into every one of Panther's great moments. First two falls are inconsequential (although right out of the gate we get BP pummeling Adonis, only for Tirantes to catch his hand on a punch. Good grief.), but the tercera brings the flames. The crowd is going bonkers by the time Panther nails Adonis with a tope, and then another one. Tirantes "inadvertantly" gets in the way of a third, and when Panther finally gets a clear runway he ends up taking a flip bump through the ropes to the floor, right on his tailbone. I wish Adonis had played more of a coward and used more cheapshots and hiding behind Tirantes, as he still came off pretty strong. But Panther was so nuts and his facials were so good that nobody in the match was going to hold this down. By the time they brawl to the ramp I was dying, and Panther's sympathetic facials while taking kicks to the jaw were great. Adonis ramps up the sympathy by bodyslamming nastily on the ramp, really splatting him. When Panther catches him in the Fujiwara it was a real markout moment. The big splash onto the draped-in-trump Panther was big, and Panther's kickout was grand. No way he's going out like that. At least Tirantes took a decent bump into the ropes to set up the end, but dammit Panther needs to take on Tirantes in a career vs. career match. CMLL needs to book The Panther vs. Adonis, mask vs. hair as a main, or BP/Panther vs. Adonis/proxy, with BP's career and Panther's mask on the line, and Adonis' hair and Tirantes' career (proxy wrestling for Tirantes) on the other line. Do it!


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Sunday, August 13, 2017

NXT Sacramento LIVE REPORT 8/12/17

I couldn't make it to the San Jose show on 8/11 (driving to San Jose during Friday rush hour traffic? It would have taken 3.5 hours), so Rachel and I drove to the Sacramento show on 8/12. I have the historic worst luck with driving to Sac. It's always something. Road closures, massive rain storms, accidents that cause huge traffic delays, literally every time I drive to Sac it's a non-stop stream of omens telling me to never return. Last night was no different, filled with accidents causing traffic delays, and getting trapped in Sac post-show due to freeway onramps being closed for construction. The detour signs literally lead in a loop around Sac. It was a disaster. It felt like we were being sealed inside Sac like some kind of Escape from NY colony.

But the show itself was great, and the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium might be my favorite wrestling venue. It's been around for decades, has killer concert posters from old acts that played there, such as "The Beach Boys - America's #1 Surf Band!" There were two Beach Boys shows, a "pre-teens and childrens" matinee with "one parents admitted free per child" and "25 FREE LPs given away per concert!" The tickets were $1.75 in advance and $2 at the door. WTF?? Even with inflation that's like $15! They also have great posters for other shows there, the Dead playing 12/22/70 (a show with no known tapes!), great blown up photos of The Clash and Zappa (not playing together, obviously), just a cool old venue, tons of original beautiful moldings, weird quirks like having to go down a few flights of stairs to use the bathrooms (people in wheelchairs had to use employee bathrooms!), genuinely classy and classic place to see pro wrestling.

We showed up right as the first match was starting, bought the cheap $20 seats, and really the balcony is a perfect view at this venue. We were lined up perfectly with the ring on the left side (looking from the entrance):

1. Andrade Almas vs. No Way Jose

ER: Good opener, Jose has been way over with live crowds both times I've seen him. Almas works almost nothing like he did as La Sombra, I don't think he even does as many highspots as Albert Del Rio. But he looked good and was almost playing up a low rent WWE Eddie Guerrero sneaky heel. He bumped big for Jose (including a great bump to the floor into the railing) and ate the pop-up KO punch great, made it look like a deserving finisher.

2. Ruby Riot/Sarah Logan vs. Sonya Deville/Mandy Rose

ER: This might have actually been my favorite match of the night (this or the women's title 3 way), which I wouldn't have expected had I seen the specific match listing before the show. But I came away really impressed with the Deville/Rose team. Deville may have actually been my favorite performer of the night, but both were great as a team. Both really knew how to work from the apron, better than almost anyone else on the show. Deville especially was awesome, always throwing cheap shots (even ones that weren't meant to land, just always keeping the idea there) and was smart at how she moved around the ringpost to attack. Rose kept fans in the front engaged while not distracting from the match, both had good timing on their sneak shots. I think a couple of Deville's nastiest strikes came while she was on the apron, namely Riot getting tossed into the ropes and Deville laying a kick right into her lower back. Riot was a great FIP and we got two versions of a spot I really love, the babyface trying to leap to the hot tag but getting caught in midair by the heel, and those seconds spent with the face caught but still tryyyying to reach for that tag but falling short. The way they handled it was great: Riot ran for the tag but Deville caught her, Riot coming really close to a tag (and Logan doing a great job of reaching for the tag while still being mindful of the tag rope), but Deville threw her off. Riot caught up and charged back looking to do the same, and Deville just speared her out of the air. Awesome spot. Rose bumps really acutely as a heel, she whips over super fast on armdrags, really making the faces look like superheroes. Logan I had never seen before (she appeared to be working a female Skinner Steve Keirn gimmick, or maybe a girl you would talk to at a small town tailgate party) and wasn't too impressed; she didn't really know what to do on the apron, and had a kind of stilted hot tag. But Rose worked around it fine and I came away really loving the match.

3. Oney Lorcan vs. Lars Sullivan

ER: Lorcan wasn't announced ahead of time for these shows (and they announced like 18 people), so I wasn't expecting him, so he was quite the pleasant surprise. He's definitely one of my favorites and the crowd was into him. Lars was a guy I had never heard of before, and the dude is a monster. He looks like Nate Diaz, if Nate Diaz had grown to hideous proportions by chugging Venom all day in Arkham Asylum. It was a fairly short match with Lars dominating, and while the guy is super green he still looked impressive. We got two different press slam spots (and I love press slam spots), with him pressing Lorcan from the floor into the ring, and him holding up a delayed slam in the ring. Lorcan gets a couple nice moments, like him switching his weight on a slam to maneuver into a sleeper, but the match peaked once he snapped and started going off on Sullivan. Lorcan started flying wildly into him with his awesome uppercuts, grabbed Lars by the beard and started slapping the hell out of him, but then flies off the ropes for another uppercut and gets demolished by a lariat. Sullivan wins with a huge uranage (does another after the match for good measure), but I was hoping for ONE more Lorcan hope spot; if he had reversed that uranage into a guillotine choke or DDT, before the inevitable Lars win, this could have been MOTN. As it was, it was still a blast.

4. Kassius Ohno vs. Killian Dain

ER: Ohno is rocking the Sac Kings gear and another of those War Machine Hanson types who is big and burly and hoss-like but usually doesn't come off like a hoss. I keep getting tricked by this guy as my brain goes "OH GREAT a big fat hairy guy" but then I remember that I've never actually seen a Big Damo match that I liked. He doesn't have great strikes, but he still has a higher floor than most guys because he has moments where he uses his fat. Being fat and using your fat will get at least some reaction from me. Ohno was the reason to watch this and Hero as Buddy Rose is extremely entertaining. This could have been more of a bomb throwing hoss battle, but what we got was good stuff. Dain is kind of a lousy seller, and doesn't take very interesting bumps, but he leaned into plenty of elbows and kicks from Ohno, and as one would expect Ohno's elbows and kicks loosened jaws. Ohno had some fun show off moments, like his rope flip Misawa feint, and still nuttily busting out his handspring from in the ring to the apron to the floor. He does that and blasts Dain in the jaw, I flip out. I still don't know how Ohno makes his roundhouse pump kick look so good, but it always does. We get both men using fat guy sentons, Ohno does a great elbow pad removal before attempting a killshot (you all know how much I love Lawler taking down the strap, Valentine moving the shin guard, etc., so Ohno tossing the pad is 8 stars from me), Hero misses a great moonsault (and calls his shot by pointing at Dain through his legs from up top!), Dain finishes with a nice Vader bomb (got good and horizontal), and more good spots that I'm forgetting. I don't think we could have expected a better match from these two, so I was plenty pleased.

5. Nikki Cross vs. Ember Moon vs. Asuka

ER: This was my other contender for favorite of the night, even with the 3 way aspect kind of making itself known too often. I'll give credit to all the gals involved for busting ass and getting around the stip. Even though there WAS a lot of "person sells on floor longer than normal so other two can work", they got to those moments in quality ways. I hate in a 3 way where someone is in the ring having a normal match, then takes a move, holds their midsection and rolls to the floor for a few minutes. It's so unnatural. Nobody ever does that in a singles match. Here the attacks themselves actually knocked the person to the floor, with the best being Asuka doing a baseball slide dropkick on Nikki but Nikki catching her in the apron skirt and clubbering her to a pulp. All three women looked great, with Asuka looking like a superstar. She has awesome charisma, I like her moveset, great look, and she has no problem leaning into strikes. I did think Nikki's frayed bootcut jeans were a little amateur, but she seems like she wrestles like a female Dean Ambrose, so I guess it fits. And she's probably better than current Dean Ambrose so why not. Asuka landed some nice hip attacks and locked in a sick abdominal stretch/cravate, Cross and Moon both had some nice respective clubbing forearms and kicks, but surprisingly the real good moments of the match happened with all three in the ring. We got a superplex/powerbomb spots, which are a little played out at this point, but a superplex is always going to look nasty. Best spot was a beautifully timed moment where Cross was getting back into the ring but got nailed with a running butt attack by Asuka, knocking her into the guardrail. It leaves Asuka sitting on the middle rope (where she made contact), and one beat later Moon nails her with a superkick (and it was the nastiest strike of the night, even factoring in Lorcan and Ohno). The hit all the beats perfectly, sequence of the night. The end involving all three was also great, with Moon hitting the eclipse, really nasty finish that Cross made look like a whiplash inducing snap. Asuka runs in from the floor, attacks Moon, throws her to the floor, vultures the win. It doesn't sound special, but the timing was so exact that it was a great finish. The misdirection was strong, it genuinely looked like Moon could get the win, and Asuka made it in, tossed Moon, and stole the win in perfectly believable bam bam bam timing. Great stuff.

6. SAnitY (Eric Young/Alexander Wolfe) vs. Authors of Pain

ER: Well, Authors of Pain still stink. These guys are a bad Ascension, and you can see how well Ascension have done on the main roster (they do probably have better looks than Ascension, so that may help them). This whole thing started pretty ugly with a before-the-bell brawl that was supposed to look unhinged, but just looked like four guys throwing mostly bad punches. Wolfe's punches especially looked terrible. BUT he was redeemed later. So let's skip to later, because this match was dry as a desert. AoP had dud control segments, though EY is still a good face bumper. I had written most of this off, but then EY got the hot tag and Wolfe had an actual good hot tag run. His timing was on point and his energetic elbows and clotheslines and house on fire offense was surprisingly effective. We built to a couple nifty nearfalls, and AoP won the match by DQ by dragging ref Drake Younger out of the ring and punching him. So, pretty lame. BUT, then Wolfe hits a wild flip dive and EY hits a fast bullet tope, so for a match with a cheap finish it sure exited the ring better than it entered. Salvaged.

7. Hideo Itami vs. Johnny Gargano

ER: I'm sure many would say this was the match of the night, and I liked the first half, but once it devolved into sexy dance fighting and clumsily set-up signature offense I think it got a little cold. The early parts were worked slower, with Itami grinding in headlocks and playing an amusing "Budro not wearing kneepads" stalling house heel, avoiding contact and rolling to the floor to avoid stuff. I was digging it. Itami kept taking nice little bumps to the floor, landing in painful ways, falling into the railing, great bullshit. But at a certain point went into our rehearsed we're having a real WAR part of the evening, with unnatural spot set up and strike exchanges and dramatic kickouts that weren't dramatic. Itami still has a bunch of holdover 2004 offense, nowhere near as good as his stalling heel work. Gargano gets into the ring, Itami stops him with a nice kick to the chest. Then Gargano has to act like he's stuck entering the ring, hanging in the ropes, for 10 seconds so Itami can stomp him off the ropes. The stomp looked nasty, the landing rough, but the set up is just absurd in 2017. Gargano has a bunch of smaller versions of those moments, unnaturally rushing over to roll Itami over so Gargano can hit his sliding pivot kick, or getting kicked into place just so he can deliver a strike in a certain way. It's unnatural and silly. The finish was at least hot, as I liked the reversal. Itami went for the Go 2 Sleep, Gargano caught his knee on the way down and locked in the Gargano escape. The crowd even seemed to get more robotic during the "hot strikes" section, doing a lethargic "This is Awesome" chant (though this match was the first match back after intermission, so I don't think I can fully blame the crowds lethargy on their robotic match structure).

8. Roderick Strong/Aleister Black/Drew McIntyre vs. Riddick Moss/Tino Sabbatelli/Bobby Roode

ER: This really had to win me over, as entrances alone took 16 minutes. I knew I had a 2.5 hour drive back home, and it was already 10:15. Jesus, Aleister, walk a little bit faster to the ring. So the entrances take an eternity, I was ready to dump all over the match, but everybody really busted their ass. I expected nothing from Moss and Tino, two guys who you might recognize from their trick bartending work at The White Swallow, but they were really great at feeding all the face team offense and stooging around, nicely playing off Roode's stooging. They acted like Roode acolytes and it was amusing the way Roode kept throwing them to the wolves. Strong looked great here, and it's kind of wild to think that my favorite period of Strong's career has been the last 2-3 years. He's been around so long, I just think he's really finetuned his game. His chops blister and he's great at crowd control in a busy match like this. And those backbreakers still break. Aleister Black worked stiff and did some nutty stuff on a non-taped house show, peaking when he hit a moonsault to the floor on Moss & Tino. Roode kept trying to avoid McIntyre the whole match, rolling to the floor, even getting shoved back towards the ring by an older woman at one point (A STUNT GRANNY!?!?). All three heels did some inspired apron work, acting like great meatheads. We got a hot sequence where everybody hits their finisher, where one guy hits his, then he takes the next guy's and so on. WWE is always pretty shockingly great at the timing of those and this was no different. Tino makes it work by running fast into McIntyre's shotgun knee, but the whole thing was hot. Again, I was pretty tired at this point, just sat through an intermission and the two weakest matches of the night and THEN 16 minutes of ring entrance...but they won me back over. No small feat.

Another great NXT house show, I really hope they keep doing these so that I can see them once a year. According to special live guest William Regal, he was happy that they got 1,500+ people there, since early NXT shows "did 50 people on a good night". Is he acting like NXT used to play smoky bingo halls until they took them to the big time?? But this show was a great time, filled with a crowd that loves pro wrestling, watched in a great old wrestling venue. Yes, please.

Oh, and a final shoutout to the NXT ring announcer, who had no protected seat so had to sit right at ringside with the ring bell, and ran around ringside away from the action all night in very high heels. She put on a Julie Newmar-esque performance of high heel running and irked facials.

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