Segunda Caida

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

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Comprehensive Segunda Caida Review of nWo Souled Out, Part 2

When we last left off with our comprehensive, unauthorized review of nWo Souled Out, WCW President Eric Bischoff was planning the dick swing of all dick swings with Cedar Rapids mayor Lee Clancey: Bringing the superstars of World Championship Wrestling to the land that the Meskwaki Indians (known as the Fox Tribe to some) originally settled on the banks of the Red Cedar River.

Lee Clancey, the mayor with the most racist sounding name in Cedar Rapids history, was always looking for ways to stick Dubuque Second Ward Representative Roy D. Buol's nose right in the shit, and there was no better way to do that than by hosting a professional wrestling pay per view spectacular.

Buol sat in his tasteful yet erotic office located on the historic west side of Dubuque. It was a balmy January afternoon. He had just finished his bag lunch, packed lovingly by his wife of 17 years, Sheila.  One cheese sandwich (wheat bread, touch of mayo to prevent dryness), a banana and a half thermos of soup*. After having just experienced the "best Autumn of his life", Buol was ready to get back to the business of the day: supervising administrative officers, formulating policies, exercising city powers in regards to the future development of the city, etc.

Suddenly, a knock at the door.

It was his secretary, also named Sheila. She had arrived with an opened stack of mail for him to peruse. One letter immediately stood out, from a Mr. Eric A. Bischoff. The envelope had crudely executed, obscene drawings on the outside, appearing to depict various acts of bestiality, and also the word "boobs" scrawled several times in different fonts. The scribblings were such that it appeared to have been drawn using a non-dominant hand. Upon further inspection, Second Ward Rep Buol found no postage. Whomever had sent this to him had clearly had it dropped off in person. He hastily pulled out the contents of the manila envelope and found one simple sheet of cheap paper. On it was printed:

SUBJECT: Women in your Area. Come Over Tonight.

"Women what we think you might know are sharing discreet pics of themselves.

They are posting these pics on an Adults Only one night stand community.

We are going to allow you to view these pictures of women that you may know.

We will also allow you to contact them to see if they would like to have a one night stand with you.

We think you know some of them because they live near your zip code.

These ladies are looking for casual discreet affairs. You may recognize them right away, due to the high population of whores presently residing in Dubuque.

You can contact any women you see at this community and ask them out.

Or you can just flirt with them. But you should try and set up an intimate date with some of them."

The letter was not signed, but there was a phone number written on the back. He immediately recognized the number as that of his own mother, below which was written "Go to your window". Enraged and feeling his face getting hot, Buol went to his window and breathed in sharply through his nose when he saw, sprayed in some kind of foam onto the side of his newly leased Toyota Tercel "ROY BOUL'S [sic] MOTHER GETS IT".

Buol breathed out heavily through his nose, felt his teeth grind as he clenched his jaw.


Buol gruffly shouted towards his closed office door.


To Be Continued.....

*Conflicting documents were found on exactly what soup Buol had, as one commonly cited report refers to his frequently eaten chicken noodle soup, while another document listed a soup exotically referred to as "reduced sodium cracked pepper tomato soup". I'm inclined to believe it was the former, as I'm unsure whether the concept of cracked pepper had infiltrated the greater Corn Belt area by 1997. Since I could not find definitive documentation on Mr. Buol's soup that day, I felt it wouldn't be fair to speculate either way.

Part I


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Monday, October 30, 2017

2017 Ongoing MOTY List: Relampago v. Imposible

34. Imposible vs. Relampago IWRG 1/22

ER: Here is a match featuring a total knockout of a first half, with one of those big confusing second halves that only seem to happen in lucha. The primera starts hot with Relampago hitting a dive as Imposible is walking to the ring, and the primera never really looks back. We get some nice brawling around ringside and into the crowd, tons of nasty chairshots with those stiff unyielding plastic chairs bouncing off heads and ribs. Relampago gets hiptossed into a bunch of those chairs, later uses them to pull off a double jump rana (chair to barricade to Imposible) into the crowd, later Imposible and him fight on the second level and Imposible flies off with a crossbody. Relampago gets busted open, gets his mask ripped, and Imposible makes sure to punch him a few times right in the cut - cementing his status as "quality Luchador". Primera ends with Relampago locking on a rough sub that sees Imposible hang on too long before tapping, injuring his arm in the process. And then things get kind of weird. Imposible is really rubbing his limp arm, and we get one truly awesome pro wrestling moment where a referee on the floor tries to yank at Imposible's arm to pop it back into place. But again, the segunda gets weird. Suddenly the referee just disappears, and the rudo/tecnicos alliances seem to shift. So we get a couple of pinfall attempts and no referee to count them. Eventually a ref comes out but he never gets in the ring, opting to count pinfalls from the floor. Relampago was cut and bleeding, but not nearly enough to make the ring a quarantine zone. You've seen refs get near wayyyy bloodier luchadors before. So all the pinfalls the rest of the way seem completely off, you don't know if there are rudo ref shenanigans, or if someone got hurt and they don't know what to do, or if Relampago suddenly went full rudo and was getting outside help. It all felt off. And then, Relampago - who had spent the primera as a valiant tecnicos getting bloody and still flying into Imposible - yanks Imposible's mask all the way off and pins him in full view of everyone. So...I don't actually know what happened, but it felt like one of those occurrences that only happen in lucha. Even with the weirdness, match was pretty terrific.

PAS: The second half of this didn't bother me as much as it bothered Eric. I don't know why the ref only was counting from the floor, but it didn't stop the near falls from being compelling. I was also not really bothered by Relampago pulling off the mask. Relampago was brutalized violently for a fall and half at one point Imposible threw him into what looked like his mother and grandmother, and nearly threw a punch at his mom. When they were brawling on the balcony, Relampago gets fireman carry tossed off a balcony, which felt like an attempted murder. I figure once those stakes have been set, a little mask pulling is fair game. I really dug this, violent intense brawl with some really holy shit moments, like the throw off the balcony and subsequent dive. We get some nice mask ripping and blood and a really nasty submission out of nowhere to end the second fall. Third fall was slightly odd, but nothing too weird. Violent, impressive and fun to watch


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Sunday, October 29, 2017

Brian Kendrick's Ready to Close His Eyes, Now He's Ready to Close His Mind

Brian Kendrick/Tony Nese/Noam Dar vs. Rich Swann/Akira Tozawa/Jack Gallagher (WWE Raw 5/1/17) - VERY GOOD

ER: They could have gone more with this, and at one point it felt like everybody was rushing to the finish, but the work within was plenty fun with some nice moments. The commercial break really hurt the flow of this one as they had to spill all the heels to the floor for the "Gallagher's team is rolling!" moment. Post break and things finally settle into a real match, with Kendrick grounding Swann and punching him viciously in the back of the head. Swann and Tozawa hit stereo dives and the camera crew manages to miss both, and we finally get to the Kendick/Gallagher showdown I wanted the whole match. Gallagher levels him with a headbutt from the apron and Nese gets a good save, and I think Kendrick is going to get the win over Gallagher with the bully choke, until Tozawa hits a great shining wizard to knock Kendrick off. I'm a sucker for good saves in a match, they always go a long with with me. Nese continues to slowly improve (I really need to get back to 205 I? Is it good? I haven't even been checking results...), and while this needed more Kendrick and Gallagher, it was still a solid trios.

Brian Kendrick/Drew Gulak vs. Mustafa Ali/Jack Gallagher (WWE Raw 7/17/17) - FUN

ER: This is a pretty generous "FUN" designation as the match itself is barely over 2 minutes long. But there are no faults with the ringwork, and in fact there are a few nice gem moments, they just occur in an overall meaningless match. I like Gulak's "No Fly Zone" gimmick, dug him screaming in with an elbow to knock Ali off the apron, and everything surrounding his tag in to Kendrick is great, with Gulak taking a flying leap thanks to Gallagher, all the way to the floor, and Kendrick tagging in on his way down. My favorite stuff of the match was the bit of Kendrick preventing Gallagher from getting to Ali, and Gallagher blasts Kendrick with a great KO headbutt. Ali's inverted 450 is an insane spot, the whole time it always seems like he's definitely going to snap his neck on the ropes, quite the high wire act. Still, 140 seconds? Fuck out of here with that.

Brian Kendrick/Jack Gallagher vs. Mustafa Ali/Cedric Alexander (WWE Raw 10/9/17) - FUN

ER: Sheesh, it took them long enough to give us the skinny pants team of Kendrick & Gallagher. That only took 10 months. I think they complement each other nicely as a team as both are really good at selling offense. I especially liked Gallagher selling a Cedric kick, stumbling around in a truly wonderful stumble, to give Cedric enough time to tag in Ali. Kendrick still gives me an awesome Tarek the Great vibe, and I liked his standing crossface punches. Ali is super smooth even if I think some of his stuff hits too light sometimes, and the rolling neckbreaker is a little overly complicated, but I like the kind of sloppiness Kendrick brought to the finish. It made him look like he was to hit Ali with a shoot Sliced Bread.

Brian Kendrick/Jack Gallagher vs. Cedric Alexander/Rich Swann (WWE TLC 10/22/17) - GREAT

ER: Love the Gallagher/Kendrick team. They both lean into dropkicks and bump big, really the perfect opponents for these two. As I type that Kendrick leans chin first into a Cedric dropkick and flies to the floor. Kendrick is a guy who can really put over things we take for granted, like nice chops. Gallagher gets popped by a (nice) Swann punch from the apron, allowing Kendrick to yank Swann off the ropes and onto his face. Gallagher locks on a snug cravate, grabbing onto Swann's braids, and Nigel talks about his fine Burberry duds. Our heels do a fine job of cheating to cut off the ring, which ends when Kendrick charges Swann and takes a huge backdrop bump over the top to the floor. Kendrick not only yanks Cedric out of the ring to save Jack from a pin, but then catches a leaping Swann into a northern lights on the floor. Back in and Kendrick blasts Kendrick with a couple of great looking kicks and locks in the captains hook, which Swann breaks up with a freaking phoenix splash. Kendrick gets caught with a lumbar check and makes it look better than anybody but maybe Gallagher. I would've liked to see the heels get the win here, but we still got a quality tag, and probably Kendrick's best performance of the year.


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Saturday, October 28, 2017

RETRO TOMK TNA Impact Workrate Report 3/25/07


-You almost took my eye out bro---Ok I actually dug Steve Borden's macho Steven Baldwin extreme sports Christianity mic work this week. It helps that he's actually now a death match worker. I should have mentioned it after last weeks show, but Holy SHIT King of The Death Match Sting is NUTS!!!!! Every post-PPV Impact, they show clips of Sting doing another insane garbage bump. He took a light bulb candelabra to the eye!!!! Light bulb not light tube. Bulbs with little wires and shit inside. Sting is nuts. I mean Flair owes alimony and money to IRS and is essentially an indentured servant at this point he can't turn down bookers when they tell him to work thumbtack spots and garbage matches. But Sting could turn this stuff down. He has no reason to be working death matches. It's a shame Sting is stuck in endless feud against such a shitty brawler. I imagine Sting v. Corino could be spectacular. I mean there are a ton of really great U.S. death match workers, while Sting is stuck working Abyss' poor man's XPW era Kronus. Maybe the poor man's XPW Kronus is harsh..I could see someone arguing that Ryder is a nastier garbage bump than Nicole Bass. So maybe not "poor man's". "Sting is stuck working the functional equivalent of XPW Kronus."is probably the fairer statement. Point is mediocre deathmatch worker like Supreme or Pogo the Clown would be better. Could Pogo achieve Christian redemption or are there some things beyond the possibility of redemption? Sting's parts of the main event tag match were really the only good parts of that too.

-The Miss Tennessee vs. Gail Kim pull apart brawl smoked all of the Kurt Angle vs. Scott Steiner pull aparts. Jackie is stiff as shit just walloping Gail Kim. Kim isn't really stiff at all but Jackie still sells big time for her. Jackie picks up tennis racket and nails Kim with it, Kim responds by hitting Jackie with a mouse pad. Chris Harris mic work is fine but real mistake to have him do "I almost lost my eye" in a worked angle mic work on the same show you have Sting do his shoot "I almost lost my eye" speech.


-This show sucks and well these reports really don't capture the degree of suckitude because on some level it is more amusing to me to write the "what worked" part. Trying to find the one semi good thing that I can sort of give a backhanded compliment to is perhaps more damning than listing all the things wrong anyway. More amusing to find the one silver lining in the turd than it is to catalogue every single piece of feces. Still this show is a turd.

- I have mixed feelings about the Eric Young vs. Austin Starr match. Part of me was really tempted to put it on the top side. Essentially it was match that the announcers couldn't be bothered to pay attention to. Completely ignored until the run ins. And it was worked like a match that was going to be completely ignored. Basically worked like a match where one guy puts his opponent in headlock and sits in it waiting for run in finish. This is a fed filled with matches where the wrestlers are trying to squeeze in 20 storyline talking points into three minutes. Matches where guys are doing a million meaningless moves to pop crowd in a four minute match. And so it was kind of refreshing watching two guys just futz around doing nothing. I mean it wasn't like they were laying in a headlock, this was a workrate version of laying in a headlock (although that would have been more emotionally satisfying than average TNA match too) doing lots of stuff for the purpose of not getting pops. Starr did a second rope springboard back rake. Guys futzing around deliberately trying to keep the focus away from themselves. If this match was held anywhere else it would obviously go on the bottom side of the What worked/What didn't division, but in TNA it comes off more natural and meaningful than the rest of their shitty matches and junk.

- The show had a million and three sports entertainment and backstage segments and outside of the Sting, Chris Harris and Miss Tennessee v. Gail Kim ones they all sucked. They've repackaged AJ Styles as flabbergasted flustered Barney Fife, Jerry Lynn mutters endlessly, Bob Backlund brings in a urine sample as though anyone believes that TNA drug tests, 3D talk about their high school football days, Abyss mother shows up and Abyss sells "torn/conflicted man in need of direction" by grabbing at invisible balloons. The show opens with Angle on the mic while Rhino and Samoa Joe stand behind him in the role of Angle's muscle. Angle is the least mic worker of the three at this point and he's the guy on the mic!!! It should be pointed out that this is a fed that also gives Jerry Lynn and Raven extended mic segments but still. Regimmicking Rhino and Samoa Joe as Jindrak and Horshu is insane. Rhino doesn't have the ring skills of Jindrak and I like Joe on the mic but he's no Horshu. Angle does some sort of Voltron "three parts of machine" mic work and its one of those booking committee talking points where Tenay has to repeat "three parts of machine" again and again. The Team Angle v Serotonin match is a squash but it's a dull really unimpressive squash. Johnny Devine does a great eat of a gore but really shockingly unathletic, unintense looking squash match. Samoa Joe once did an interview explaining how Hashimoto explained that the most important part of wrestling is the eyes. Watching the squash, Angle's eyes look glazed over like he has no idea where he is, Rhino's eyes look confused like he's trying to remember where he left his keys, and Samoa Joe's eyes just look bored as he's struggling to stifle a yawn. Post match Raven tortures Serotonin in a backstage segment. They need to stop putting Raven on the mic. This week he directly rips off Florida era Kung Fu Billy Graham mic work and totally fucks it up. And then for some reason they have Raven torturing Serotonin with hot wax. He's been pasting them with cane shots for months and now he's using hot wax? This is completely backwards. You introduce hot wax before you start strapping her with canes and paddles. Whais he going to do next week? Lite spanking, gentle choke play? Completely backwards.

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Friday, October 27, 2017

CWF Mid-Atlantic Worldwide Episode 124

Episode 124

1. Cain Justice/Ethan Alexander Sharpe/Otto Schwanz vs. Dirty Daddy/The Prolotariat Boar of Moldava/Ian Maxwell

PAS: This was a six man focusing on the Daddy v. Cain rivalry and was a total blast. All six of these guys had different roles to play and they all played them to a tee. This by far the most I have enjoyed the Prolotariat Boar, as the match built this great mini rivalry between him and Otto where they were constantly jawing at each other and every time the matched up it was slobberknockerish. Maxwell had some nice moments of flash, Sharpe was great as a crazed guy demanding respect. Of course the main pair of guys was great as always. Loved Cain cheapshotting and avoiding Daddy, luring him into mistakes finish run was great with Dirty figuring a counter for the twist ending and hitting a airplane spin into a brainbuster for the win. It is gold every time these two are in a ring together and I am loving the build to their final showdown.

ER: This was good, and it definitely helped whet my appetite for Daddy/Justice. Dirty Daddy is so good at these small match babyface performances, able to get sympathy and support in far less time just due to his charisma. I'm sure I'm in the minority liking serious Sharpe more than comedy Sharpe, but now that we've seen several episodes in a row where he's working like a slimy punk, he's a guy I actually look forward to seeing. I still wasn't super impressed by Boar, but he was definitely better here than in his other appearances. I especially like catching a guy and doing a squat lift with him before disposing of him (although that's really more of a heel move). The most impressive thing about the match was taking six different personalities and playing it with a straight face. The teams felt like teams even though they aren't regularly teams, and really it just made me want to see Dirty/Cain. Every time Daddy even got tossed near the corner I was just waiting to see what Cain would do. That singles is gonna be good.

2. Arik Royal vs. Trevor Lee

PAS: This was a maximalist title match with both guys (plus three referees, Jerry Carey, the Coach, Roy Wilkins and Snooty Foxx) throwing it all at the wall. The promotion did a great job setting up the stakes for this match. If Lee won he would break Royals record for longest CWF title reign, and they made it feel like a very big deal. Royal was at his troll best early in the match, stealing a hat from a lady fan and wearing it, powerbombing Lee into the ringpost and then getting on the mike and talking shit. The middle of the match had all of the booking, with Carey getting penalty kicked and sent to the back, Coach throwing powder in Lee's eyes, a blinded Lee breaking both the refs hands, Coach punching two refs with brass knucks, Wilkins coming out to interfere and Foxx coming out to run him off. It was a lot, I get that the Wilkins title match set the stage for lots of interference in the All-Star matches, but rather then spread out the booking it all came in one huge wave and all of that didn't really factor into the finish.

After all of that was cleared out, we move into a more traditional big near fall title match. I really liked Royal refusing die on the multiple vicious penalty kicks, and the finish was great with Royal trying a british leg escape and Lee catching his legs in a figure four for a nasty STF variation, Royal had the knucks on his hand but couldn't use them before he had to tap. I liked large parts of this a lot, but I think they could have either stretched out all of the overbooking or just toned it down a bit, I am not a clean finish fetishist, but booking should be a bit like cumin, a little bit makes a dish delicious too much makes in inedible.

ER: The more I've fallen in love with CWF, the more I love their bullshit. This was a lot of bullshit. And I use that term lovingly, not dismissively. This was probably too much bullshit though. But CWF  is really great at bullshit, and the fact this still ended up as damn fun as it was is testament to all the performers and all the goodwill the promotion has built up. They don't cheap out on anything, and they never start something they can't finish. So when you start getting bullshit in a match it's far more enjoyable than other feds because you know it was actually mapped out, know it has a purpose. I'm picturing this same layout happening in current WWE and I'm hearing phony Michael Cole putting over the outrage of it all, and it already sounds terrible. But in this environment? I'm in. The moments were probably too many, but I loved the details of the moments. I loved Carey getting punted (first time I think I've seen him take offense) and loved Gemini throwing up the X for him; loved Royal robbing the beret and talking trash on the headset, then chastising Stutts for saying "hell" in front of children; loved the ridiculous spot with Lee breaking the ref's hands, with the ref staggering around the ring screaming and yelling at Gemini that he can't count the pinfall, leading to Gemini just decking him with the knux; loved Gemini about to get the punt, and the way he handled it by wobbly-knee backing himself into the ringpost, accepting his fate (before the excellently timed save from Royal). All that bullshit was super fun, but my oh my there was a lot of it. You could practically see Jeff Goldblum watching this match in Jurassic Park and exclaiming "That is one big pile of shit." Gemini took out so many people with knux that we were well past a Parakeet Caretaker scenario. It's like he hit someone with the knux and just couldn't stop, like potato chips or masturbation.

A huge strength of the match that may have been washed away in all the madness, was how important Scott and Stutts put over the whys and the hows of the match, the importance of the CWF title, the lineage and the history, how Corey Edsel didn't want to be supplanted by Royal but couldn't avoid it, and how Royal may be feeling the same about Lee. I especially loved how they put over how Royal was CWF champ in the years before the weekly YouTube TV show, and Lee has been the champ when the most eyeballs in CWF history were on them. Scott compares it to a great NBA player in the 70s being completely forgotten once the run and gun showtime era hit. Here's Royal, holding the record for longest CWF reign, and there are tons of fans watching the fed now (like me!) who had no idea what a big deal he was. It added big time gravity to the match for me, and really Mike Quackenbush is probably the only other announcer who can explain the history and the importance of a feud or match like these guys (and it doesn't hurt that I like the product they're putting over much more than Quackenbush's product). I don't really have tons to say about the actual moves in the match, other than I thought what they did totally worked, they just kind of took a backseat to the rest of the Muppet Show that was happening. Gemini made the Astros helmet to Royal's face really count (plastic novelty helmet not an easy weapon shot to make look good, and it did), and I thought Lee double, triple, quadruple pumping on the kicks was good. You don't want to just shoot a zombie once only to find out he's not actually dead. Royal not able to pull off the knux shot and being forced to tap was a masterful finish, much like Otto not being able to break the STF due to the finger break. I really love this fed.

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Thursday, October 26, 2017

2014 Ongoing Match of the Year List

47. Zack Sabre Jr. v. Timothy Thatcher EVOLVE 34 9/13

PAS: Really great stuff, I think this is my favorite Thatcher match of the year. Sabre is a little faster and flashier then Thatcher, more of a babyface British worker, while Thatcher works more like a bruiser British heel, so this felt kind of like a Robbie Brookside v. Fit Finlay match. As one would expect very heavy mat work early, with both guys working on the arm, Thatcher to set up a Fujiwara, Sabre for a cross arm-breaker. There was also a cool little dynamic with Thatcher using his strength and Sabre countering with his speed. When the match got chippy it really got rolling. The holds really got wrenched, Sabre stomped on his elbow really nastily and started throwing kicks, and Thatcher really unloaded with forearms. Finish submission was awesome with Sabre trying for a cross arm-breaker, floating it into a weird hammerlock wrist twist and added some kicks to the back of the head for the tap. Just great stuff, another feather in Thatcher's cap, and got me really high on Sabre Jr.

ER: I did not see this at the time (Phil did, and wrote it up several months after it actually happened), but I thought it would be fun going back to a time before this kind of style was so much more commonplace on a given indy card. This is just 3 years ago, which doesn't feel like a long time, so it's neat to me to see them working this match 2nd match on the card, when this would go on to be the main event style not long after. Parts of this felt like an evolution of the American Dragon/Low Ki match style. I don't think I thought that just because they did the headstand/leglock spot that I first saw those two do in 2001. It felt like a toned down evolution, taking bits from those matches and updating some of them while bringing their own skills. At its core, it was two nasty fuckers trying to leave the match with an arm that wasn't their own, and that's almost always going to be worth seeing. We don't get a lot of striking (Sabre throws some kicks late in the match, including the vicious shots to end it), we get a couple nasty throws (Thatcher's gutwrench is always cool), but mostly this was violent arm manipulation. Thatcher was kind of a bully and Sabre was more slippery, so you'd get Thatcher committing to a wrenched in Fujiwara, or hyperextending Sabre's arm against his own shoulder, and Sabre would be able to slide into some mean wrist control, wrenching in a hammerlock at one point that felt like it would completely pop Thatcher's shoulder out of socket or pop an elbow. Both guys are tough, and I hate the complaint against Sabre that "his opponents let him apply holds". It's demonstrably false and the way he slides into and out of holds can be hypnotic. But there were moments of him changing strategy mid-move that illustrate how silly the "exhibition submission" tag is, like the first time he goes to stomp Thatcher's elbow only to notice Thatcher move while he's already throwing the kick, so he merely extends his leg more and thrust kicks Thatcher in the head. It looked like he genuinely prepped to stomp elbow and changed the angle of his kick midway. This had many more World of Sports type exchanges than later (current) matches in this style, and it's a nice breath as we get a minor playful vibe occasionally shining through all the ligament tearing. The playfulness has definitely been overshadowed by the current grittiness of the mat style, so I appreciated those moments. The finish sub was something that definitely seemed like the finish, as it easily was the nastiest thing in the match, with Sabre hooking the arms in a painful enough sub to get the tap, but then firing machine gun thrust kicks right to the back of Thatcher's head. Awesome little scrap.


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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Lucha Worth Watching: As the Casas Turns

1. Negro Casas vs. Caristico (CMLL Puebla 1/16/17)

ER: Awesome little almost house show type performance from Casas, which also features an awesome Zacarias performance. Casas comes out ready to entertain as rudo, smacking Caristico around and soaking up the jeers. Casas stomps Caristico to the mat and Zacarias flies in with a fast low dropkick (that Caristico amusingly sells as much or more than Casas' kicks up to this point). Zacarias is really active through the entire match, choking Caristico in the corner with his boot, even flying into him with a tope! Caristico catches the tope, but it allows Casas to hit his Thesz press off the apron. Casas takes Caristico headscissors really nicely, sliding far across the ring and acting like they leave him totally disconcerted. We get an amusing take on the "which side can cheer loudest" spot, because Casas' facials put it over huge. He cannot believe that Caristico is getting bigger cheers than him, looking completely incredulous and convinced that the NEXT side will certainly cheer louder for him, getting angrier with each side's betrayal. Angry old Negro Casas looks somewhat like actor John Marley, and lucha needs more angry old John Marleys. Caristico is sorta lazy about setting up his trademark spots, but Casas keeps them feeling fresh, finding nice ways to get into position properly, and it makes for a nice satisfying low impact lucha match.

2. Negro Casas/Barbaro Cavenario/Felino vs. Sam Adonis/Rush/Pierroth (CMLL 10/6/17)

ER: This is a fast, dirty match with a super hot Arena Mexico crowd, and I'll take a hot crowd over crisp ringwork any day of the week. Adonis and his doofus crew go after Casas and the rudos run the boards, are good at keeping Barbaro and Felino at bay, and commence all the double team strikes on Casas. Adonis has his shitty trump tights, Pierroth doesn't bother taking his shirt off, and Rush always seems to work stiffest with Casas. This match does nothing big, but the crowd eats it up, responding huge from bell to bell (errr whistle to whistle?). Casas is getting held prone over the apron by Rush as Adonis chops him violently, and Barbaro runs over and punches him in the ear to gigantic cheers. It really needs to be made into a side by side gif with Richard Spencer getting punched in the ear. Pierroth and Rush jam up Barbaro with stiff chops, and Casas tries locking on a triangle from the apron on Adonis. Adonis' best feature might be his Nicolas Cage crazy eyes, a nutty feature like that really enhances his mad beatings, so it looks even better when he's chopping and stomping Casas into the corner. Rush is a real jerk (you heard it here first), and at one point he goes to do his stiff corner dropkick on a slouched Casas, stops short...and just punts Casas right in the nose with his boot toe. Casas' feebly grabbing at his face made me want Casas to wreck these fools even more. Adonis does a big mafia kick to Casas while Rush and his daddy hold Casas' arms, but Casas hits a mean dropkick to Rush's knee to get a quick Casita! We get some decent brawling around the floor, guys get thrown into the metal announcer kiosk, Felino spiritedly leaps in to beat up Pierroth and save his bro. Felino later gets backdropped into a plancha on the floor, and Barbaro hits a boss tope from the apron past the turnbuckles. We finally get an Adonis/Casas solo showdown in the ring, and in a great moment Casas catches a kick, flips Adonis over and brings the front of Adoni's thigh down over his knee. Adonis shoves him into the ropes and punts balls for the DQ, and I officially want to see this punk lose his Nazi haircut and tiny ponytail.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

2015 Ongoing Match of the Year List

48. Drew Gulak v. Trevor Lee EVOLVE 49 10/17

PAS: Cool to see Lee mix it up with the EVOLVE grappler crew. Gulak was nasty working over Lee's knee, loved the ways he would catch it in the ropes, and there was a couple of vicious takedowns on that knee. Gulak also had an awesome leglock which was almost Navarroish. Lee did a nice job hanging on the mat, and sprinkled in some of his cool big spots. Slower paced then some of the other big Lee matches this year, but I liked this a lot.

ER: Phil originally wrote this up much closer to the actual event date, so I'm only two years late to the party. We've both seen so many Lee main event title matches in the past year that it was fun going back to a time before he was CWF Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight champ, before he began perfecting his main event title defense style. So it was neat going back and seeing how some of his spots have evolved, how certain things have become more reversible, and how other things are utilized better in his present matches. Both looked good here but I thought Gulak looked awesome. His focused mat attack was really becoming a favorite of mine, so it's a shame that two years after this match we get to see only one of these guys having the opportunity for weekly classics. But nevermind that, this is fun and that's what matters. Lee keeps trying to take things to his faster crazy level and Gulak is always right there to ground him, and while Lee's highspots always look good (especially loved a snap German suplex late in the match) I always love a good grounding. Gulak looks like a total ace with the quickness and ease he pulls off some of these tricks. Seeing him grab a wristlock and then snap back so fast, rolling through and springing to his feet - now with wrist control - was like Regal on fast forward. Later we see him DDT Lee's knee, and do this tripped out dragon screw that's short, fast, and ends with Lee's knee being brought down over Gulak's shoulder in nasty fashion. I don't actually recall seeing that before, and it looked vicious. I did think it went a bit too long, and Lee didn't always pay much attention to the attack his knee had been under, so that dropped it down a bit. But it was neat seeing a future main event style more in its infancy, and a nice reminder that there are dozens of Gulak matches I've never seen before, more than enough to satisfy.


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Monday, October 23, 2017

Lucha Worth Watching: 2017 Leyenda de Plata Cibernetico

2017 Leyenda de Plata Cibernetico CMLL 10/13

ER: Ciberneticos were definitely more of my thing when I first started watching lucha in the late 90s, but that would also line up with WCW cruisers being my favorite style of wrestling at that time. Now ciberneticos usually still leave me hungry, unfulfillingly set up spotfests with sudden pinfalls. But I am not made of stone, and sometimes there's a collection of moves too tasty to not force a smile or an oooooohhhh. This started simple and exploded once Guerrero Maya flew at Barbaro with a tope and also flew recklessly into the first row. Full Eric attention achieved. We get a Virus/Casas sequence which is always a thrill, two masters delivering a greatest hits collection. Later we see Virus get his brains stomped to the mat by Dragon Lee. Casas tries to outbump the youngsters by getting thrown fast ass over elbow over the top to the floor. We get a concurrent somersault plancha, Asai moonsault, somersault plancha. Forastero works as if he were a darkside Soberano Jr. and it works better than Soberano Jr. being Soberano Jr. Casas has more charisma and gets louder reactions than anybody in the match, getting the fans rabid just for not locking up right away with Barbaro after pinning Titan. Lee is a dangerously fearless bumper and always wanting to please, so we get him doing a nutty rana from the ring to the floor on Titan, bumping a Virus lariat on his head, dumping himself on his head for Caristico, taking a nutso spinning powerbomb from Sanson. Mephisto is wearing a fantastic gimp outfit that makes him look like a beefy extra from the movie Cruising. I think I saw him in the background set at a bar called The Toolbox. Soberano does a nasty seated tombstone to Barbaro and I guess we just don't give a fuck about the sacred death danger of the martinete anymore.

Mistico and Caristico have the most palatable teacher/student showdown because instead of flipping and rope running they just rip masks. Mistico ripped Caristico's mask like a lifetime solid citizen who finally experienced how fucking good it felt to steal an extra newspaper from the machine. The final 5 contains 4 of my least favorite guys in the entire 16 man match, meaning Sanson is my old hope. Volador also seems rudo by default which is his best side, and he bumps fast to the floor which is better from a rudo. Soberano takes stupid modern era lucha moves real stupid on the back of his head, taking things like fast code reds or reverse ranas - dangerous looking moves that can be botched - in a cartoony rollercoaster manner, rolling off his head and then freeze framing for a second before completing the bump. I want him pinned. Sanson catches Volador on a motherfucking flip dive to the floor, doesn't let him touch the ground, and then powerbombs him SIDEWAYS into the front of the ring barrier. Sanson may have passed Cuatrero on the "baddest ass Dinamita" after this match. This is a cibernetico, so by Mexican law it was required to have one confusingly dogshit double elimination, but at minimum it was done because Sanson pinned Caristico while also suplexing Soberano. Everybody's shoulders looked down. And then Sanson is immediately pinned because they wanted to give me the last final showdown I would have picked out of all 16 participants. But that's life. Dare to err and to dream. Deep meaning often lies in childish plays.

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Sunday, October 22, 2017

WWE TLC 2017 Live Blog

ER: So I'm going to at least start this one, but may not be able to finish it tonight. We're going to see Zombi and Author & Punisher in Oakland, and likely have to leave before the show has ended. BUT, I'm interested in seeing this thing live, curious if there are any other things they'll have to scramble around due to the meningitis outbreak.

1. Alicia Fox vs. Sasha Banks

ER: This starts pretty slow but I got into it once Fox started a John Tatum routine. Once she begs off, cries because of a fake hair pull, grabs her lip and screams after taking a dropkick to the face, I was in. The Network annoyingly cuts to commercial in the middle of all dark matches, so we miss more of her antics. I always like rudo Alicia, but her chinlocks could really use some work. She was really loosely holding Sasha two different times. Sasha is outbumping Alicia here, which I wasn't expecting, taking a nice spill off the top to the apron to the floor, and getting dumped by a powerslam to the floor. Fox takes headscissors better than most, long limbs flying everywhere, and I like each of their face kicks. Match fell short of what I think they are capable of. I think Sasha as a babyface works a little too similarly to Alicia Fox, so they might not be the best opponent for each other.

2. Emma vs. Asuka

ER: This starts right, with Emma mocking Asuka's entrance and Asuka violently taking her down and grabbing an arm and a leg at the same time. Emma does a good job vocally working heel and throwing out things that can be reversed by Asuka, though she does lean out of the first hip attack. Asuka is making all of Emma's stuff look good, bumping big to the floor and really face smashing the mat on a curb stomp. But really Emma hasn't been a threat to many people on the roster, she shouldn't be getting offense. The tree of woe work is nasty, and the low crossbody in the corner looked great, but at this point Emma has taken more of the match and it's just a weird WWE thing. Why bring in these dominant people with huge buzz and make them work like mid 80s Brad Armstrong. "Asuka may barely make it to a time limit draw with Jimmy Garvin!" But Asuka's comeback is awesome as she just starts stomping and kicking at assorted Emma limbs and hitting a big missile dropkick. Emma lands a sick elbow to the cerebellum and this match is good in a vacuum, but I don't know if it's the match they should be having. Asuka's ankle lock looks better than the ankle lock of anybody else on this card, and the trap leg German looked boss. As Asuka goes to bring Emma back in the ring, Emma throws her to the floor by her hair and Asuka takes a nice thudding bump. This is literally the biggest showcase match Emma has ever had on the main brand. I can't think of another match where she got this much control. But back in a head kick leads to the choke and win. Asuka looked really great, obviously has a killer look, and I think she'll be fine. They had a competitive match, but it would have been far worse if they just had a bad match. But this was good.

ER: Jason Jordan robs us of an Elias concert, wasting a bunch of fine looking farm fresh produce on him. Wasting fresh produce isn't going to get you over in my book, bub. Corey Graves actually says "We're in Minneapolis, couldn't we have gotten a Semisonic reunion concert instead of Elias?" Is that the Minneapolis band you miss the most? Drop a Lifter Puller or Babes in Toyland reference why don't you. Graves should at minimum like the Replacements, right? Shoot, Bob Mould actually wrote pro wrestling TV. But Semisonic is what we go with?

3. Brian Kendrick/Jack Gallagher vs. Cedric Alexander/Rich Swann

ER: Love the Gallagher/Kendrick team. They both lean into dropkicks and bump big, really the perfect opponents for these two. As I type that Kendrick leans chin first into a Cedric dropkick and flies to the floor. Kendrick is a guy who can really put over things we take for granted, like nice chops. Gallagher gets popped by a (nice) Swann punch from the apron, allowing Kendrick to yank Swann off the ropes and onto his face. Gallagher locks on a snug cravate, grabbing onto Swann's braids, and Nigel talks about his fine Burberry duds. Our heels do a fine job of cheating to cut off the ring, which ends when Kendrick charges Swann and takes a huge backdrop bump over the top to the floor. Kendrick not only yanks Cedric out of the ring to save Jack from a pin, but then catches a leaping Swann into a northern lights on the floor. Back in and Kendrick blasts Kendrick with a couple of great looking kicks and locks in the captains hook, which Swann breaks up with a freaking phoenix splash. Kendrick gets caught with a lumbar check and makes it look better than anybody but maybe Gallagher. I would've liked to see the heels get the win here, but we still got a quality tag, and probably Kendrick's best performance of the year.

4. Mickie James vs. Alexa Bliss

ER: Alexa starts taking apart the arm in cool ways, and that makes this pretty interesting from the bell. She drops a knee on the arm, stands on it while attacking her other arm, whips her arm into the mat from standing position, just being a real jerk. Slap fights are pretty played out in modern wrestling, but I really liked theirs. Even the quick jump direction finally told the cameras to stop cutting on impact once they saw the gals were really slapping. The double KO doesn't totally work as Mickie's kick looked great but Alexa's tornado elbow clearly fell short. But they get up and commence the fight, and this is starting to feel like a street fight (which is a good thing). I'm not sure why the fans are chanting for tables, but I liked how gritty it started to feel. It really felt like James wanted to win that title to set the title reigns record, and Bliss was game to take it to her. Finish looked really good with Bliss faking injury, yanking James by the worked over arm into the buckles, and hitting a sharp DDT. Nothing blowaway on the show so far, but everything has been quality.

ER: Elias sings again and Jordan throws more expensive produce at him wastefully. Quality chard or kale isn't cheap man. Kids are hungry out there. Graves saves himself by making a decent joke about "couldn't we have found a Replacements cover band or something?"

5. Enzo Amore vs. Kalisto

ER: I still don't totally get Enzo, and the match is weird as his mic work is always babyface (one of those grating awful promos that some people somehow like) but he clearly works the match heel which seems to have confused the crowd (which has been really active up until this match). Kalisto takes a nice face first bump into the buckles and Enzo locks on a resthold that is not the worst we've seen on the card. I liked Enzo grabbing the ring skirt to slow down Kalisto dragging him back into the ring, and Enzo's cheap shot and pin were good. Enzo - for all his faults - always is really good on pinfalls. This pin looked like it would have been genuinely difficult for anyone to kick out of, really pinning Kalisto's knee to his own shoulder.

6. AJ Styles vs. Finn Balor

ER: Boy, things don't get a lot dumber than the black face demon. Few things in wrestling have confused me more in their popularity than this persona. Styles is two weeks removed from basically a miracle match, so we'll see how this goes. Styles lays it in nicely on kicks to the chest, hard elbows to the chin and shoulderblocks, really plants him with a backbreaker, really makes his moves count. Finn throws punches past his head, weak kicks to the stomach, you'd think a demon would be a little more ferocious. His flip dive is fine, but even then AJ set it up by bumping big to the floor and then fully catching the dive. Back in he hits a slingblade that barely grazes Styles, and I'm just overall confused by his character. Styles locks on the always cool calf crusher, and I liked Balor slamming AJ's head into the mat a bunch to break it. Styles bumps as if he were taking offense from Samoa Joe, flying off the apron after a blocked springboard, flinging himself wildly into the barrier after a so-so running dropkick. Styles picks him up in a double leg and takes a suicide mission sending both of them sprawling over the announce table in rough fashion. Balor hits a kind of flimsy lifting DDT, and I only know it's supposed to be a big deal because Cole acts like it's something that could end the match. Most of Balor's offense looks so piddly, with Styles have to way overcompensate by dumping himself on his head for a weak as hell falling lariat and then flying into the buckles off another so-so dropkick. At least Balor completely STICKS the double stomp finish. I mean he stuck that landing in a gross way. Styles should have went full on Invader III on that double stomp. Balor would have been made into a megastar and Styles would have looked determined as hell when he came back.

7. Elias vs. Jason Jordan

ER: This "Kurt Angle's son" thing really feels like one of those angles that should be dropped and never spoken about again. But as weak as that angle is, and as stupid as throwing chard at someone is, these two have a weirdly compelling match and unexpectedly good chemistry. Elias throws nice chops across the collarbones, locks in a nice side headlock and works some nice neck cranks and crucifix subs, with Jordan breaking free and dumping him with a cool amateur takedown. Jordan will also fling himself wildly into the turnbuckles (on his own shoulderblocks and to put over offense) and yeah this match totally works. Elias cuts low on missed strikes which will always win me over, and Jordan running around the ring slamming Elias into corners looks great, obviously his belly to belly suplexes look great, and I will always love his running shoulderblock to the gut until he has to get neck fusion surgery. Elias makes his thigh slap a bit too obvi, but the kneelift catching Jordan's jaw otherwise looked killer. Elias gets a nasty bodyslam into the bottom rope (a great spot that has mostly vanished) and the weight shift small package off a suplex left enough controversy for the return match. I had no hopes for the match and it was maybe my favorite of the night so far.

8. TLC Match: The Mz/Sheamus/Cesaro/Kane/Braun Strowman vs. Dean Ambrose/Seth Rollins/Kurt Angle

ER: I'll give them credit for using the PPV gimmick for only the main event. My memory tells me they've loaded up other cards with various chair or table matches. I don't remember the last Angle match I liked, but I do like him coming out as a fully dressed member of the Shield. I like the Shield overpowering Team Miz to start, and the attack on Braun was especially nasty. Everybody wailing on him with chairs, including a brutal Rollins shot to Braun's freaking chest (seriously, chairshot to the chest? Ouch). I thought the ladder spot would surely backfire, but they both crash through Kane/Braun, with Dean really smooshing Kane. I like how that sets up everybody else against Angle, as I'd rather see Angle actually selling damage for most of a match than doing offense. Sympathetic hobbled old guy is one of my favorite characters in wrestling, much more compelling than "old guys slowly doing their old spots". Angle taking a bunch of chair and ladder shots and THEN throwing Germans the moment their backs are turned, that's more interesting than Angle being treated as a returning guy who is still on par with the current roster. And it's smart to not have him get a whole lot of offense on Braun, rather have Braun crush him and powerslam him through a table. I think him suplexing Braun would have been incredibly dumb (but I guess the match isn't over yet...). The 5 on 2 heel beatdown is a nice one, and the crowd stays nice and hot throughout. Dean gets powerbombed on a table that doesn't break, so it leads to an amusing spot where Braun throws him through it and makes damn sure that it breaks.

OKAY! Zombi were great, but Author & Punisher totally slayed. I'd seen him once before in a tiny venue and it was awesome, but tonight was other level. He's replaced that Wolf Eyes throb in my ear canals. Wolf Eyes' last couple years has been more ambient less noise. I got into them because of that rhythmic throb, and A&P gives that same throb. That dude feels like he'd be playing the night shift at a seedy bar in a modern Eraserhead reboot. It's a pulse raising blend of industrial noise with metal screech and electronic throb.

So now I can go back to watching this 5 on 3 TLC trainwreck. A garbage truck gets involved, Kane turns on Braun (without siding with Shield, which is a nice touch they could have missed) and chokeslams him off the stage and then yanks a cord and drops part of the Chair display onto Braun's (never shown) body. But soon Braun RISES from that rubble (which is a moment I usually like) and he shoves everybody out of the way to go after Kane! And this match is off the rails but in a pretty fun way. Rollins takes an awesome DDT from Miz and the double team emerald flowsion and the both look match finishing but he gets saved! Angle makes his big return after getting mauled earlier by Braun, and it's gleefully stupid as he gets his entrance music! He tosses some guys with Angle Slams. Miz hits the skull crushing finale on Angle, and it's a real stupid looking finisher but they both played it up so damn well that it made for a great nearfall. Angle gets Miz in the ankle lock and Miz eventually kicks him off, with Angle taking a nasty bump onto his head to the apron and then the floor. This match is officially kicking ass. But Ambrose and Rollins corner Miz, and then Angle gets back in and Miz realizes it's 3 on 1. We get some finishers, and then they do the Shield triple powerbomb with Angle as Roman, and it's the first huge nostalgia finishing move moment in ages. This match felt like the best possible result for the competitors involved. I really didn't care when Angle was announced for the match, and thought he could ruin it more than help it, but he was used perfectly. His usage was minimal, but present in all the right spots, and he executed the role perfectly. The match felt like (what we thought was) high functioning, multiple story ECW main event, and made it work in 2017. Those match totally, unexpectedly delivered for me.

ER: So this was one of those super fun WWE PPVs that don't really seem too exciting on paper, kind of sneak up on you two weeks after another PPV, and then totally overdelivers. Enzo/Kalisto was the only poor match of the night, and even that had a real good - and correct - finish. This was a good PPV.

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Saturday, October 21, 2017

DVDVR Puerto Rico 80s Set: Invader I vs. Ron Starr (9/19/86)

Disc 3, Match 3: Invader I vs. Ron Starr (9/19/86)

I want to cover two things straight from the start. First, there's a moment shortly before the comeback where Invader I makes a hope spot out of standing up outside of the ring and staggering around. Then he cuts himself off by falling into chairs. The crowd reacts towards that the same way a southern crowd would to Ricky Morton punching back and his opponent cheating to cut him off. Just stop and think about that. When have you ever seen that before? Some of it was the nature of Puerto Rico brawls where guys fight back to their feet and storm the ring to come back, but so much of it was just Invader's selling, his connection to the crowd, Starr's dickishness and the timing of it all. I can't think of a single wrestler today who would even think to attempt such a thing. Yet it worked like it was the easiest thing in the world. You watch this and you think to yourself "This is how wrestling is supposed to be." It created belief through performance alone.

Then look at his comeback. Yes, Invader struggling to get up and back into the ring was part of it. Then, when he finally made it back in, he didn't just start firing back. He had to earn it through a series of cut offs, through taking shots and exhaustedly bouncing back against the ropes to fire back. This wasn't some sort of cutesy rebound lariat thing or eating a big boot and no-selling it with the help of the ropes to show fighting spirit. This was desperation and exhaustion, his body almost out of his own control. Through actually selling and giving meaning to the beating he was taking, he came off as many degrees tougher than the Japanese or indy guys who just eat stiff shots and fire back as if nothing was happening. Look at how exhausted he seemed. Look at how beaten down he was. Look at the damage he was taking. But he still somehow willed his body to get that punch in. Again, it's everything wrestling should be and so much of what's been lost.

Here's a third thing, the finishing sequence. It somehow built without ever really escalating and that's so refreshing. There's never a sense of complex reversals or multiple finishers and kickouts. Instead, it's two guys who have been through a war, a series of wars, a lifetime of wars, just trying to keep some sort of advantage and do anything at all that works. They're just trying to stay in it. Moreover, they're working the slight Starr advantage based on the whole of the match. He's the one who hit the back suplex. He's the one who is able to get more jabs in, even if Invader's comeback shots are bigger and bolder. That all plays into the clean finish (even if the transition was anything but clean). Invader isn't diminished at all. Starr looks all the more formidable.

Some of that was the transition. It was the debut of the valet. She had a chair. This was after a first act where Invader had Starr's number, where Starr would give it his best, either with underhanded sneaking knees, or by going over the top with a 1986 STO, but Invader was just too good, always able to turn the situation to his advantage. By setting the stage so clearly and cleanly, they ramped up the heat and fury of the crowd with the great wooden equalizer and allowed for everything that came after.

I can't understate how hugely special this sort of wrestling was. We'll never see its like again.

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Friday, October 20, 2017

CWF Mid-Atlantic Worldwide Episode 123

Episode 123

1. Joshua Cutshall vs. Aric Andrews

PAS: This was very fun. It is basically a battle between a pair of Justified villains, with Cutshall being the crazy cousin that keeps taunting Raylan and imperiling their gun running operation. This is a pair of long lanky hard hitting dudes pounding on each other. I really like Cutshalls jump kick and his slappy right hands, while Andrews has more of downward fist punch, both are really effective looking shots. Nifty finish too with the despicable Lee Valiant loading Andrews elbow pad and Andrews KO's the KO master with Cutshalls own elbow smash

ER: Phil crushed it with his new Justified villains storyline, and really there are probably more people than not in this fed who come off like tertiary Justified characters. And that's obviously a great thing. Really we could probably do a post titled Justifying CWF Mid-Atlantic and flesh out the entire eastern Kentucky area with the whole roster. Logan Easton Laroux would be a local Todd Chrisley real estate metrosexual, Michael McCallister feels like someone who would work at the police station bagging evidence and making people sign the check out sheet,  Slade Porter can be a guy who gets robbed  while trying to buy weed for friends. It's a post that can happen. And there's a reason we've written up 37 episodes of TV and have no intentions to stop, because we dig this show. Shoot we've even talked about going back and cherry picking earlier episodes.

Andrews works such a simple, toned down style, and a guy like Cutshall complements that nicely with crazy. I like Cutshall's strikes, and like how his elbow is portrayed as a big deal, and how Andrews had it scouted. It still leaves openings for him to be surprised (like by that great legdrop lariat, a move I really love). Valiant has been great as Andrews' second, and when was the last time you saw an honest to god loaded elbow pad? I'd love to see the rematch that this clearly sets up, and post match the fans alert the ref that chicanery had gone on (and that woman who blasted the Dawsons with her nachos is yelling the loudest. How long until that woman is brought in as Rob McBride's Sapphire-esque manager, White Gold?), but that elbow pad is empty! It's really hit me the last couple episodes, filled with Andrews and Lee matches, just how big a deal these titles in CWF come off to me. I don't remember the last time I watched a fed and actually cared about the belts (probably not since I was 10 or 11 and would draw the WWF champs in my notebook. I wonder if my notebook with Money Inc. drawings is somewhere at my folks' house). But Phil and I have been watching since late 2016 and only the tag belts have changed hands, and among Lee, Andrews and Justice you have three guys in the middle of awesome title runs. A true testament to this promotion and their talent that they got someone like me to actively care about wins and losses and title shots and title defenses in 2017.

2. Bobby Ballentyne vs. Michael McAllister
PAS: This is McAllister's first redemption match since losing his HIM mask, and was a fine short big guys hit each other scrap. Ballentyne is a guy they brought in from the Charlotte scene, and they might have been better off using a student. Ballentyne kind of wanted to shoehorn some of his shtick in what was basically a short squash.

ER: Yeah I'm not sure what Ballentyne's shtick was even supposed to be. At one point he kind of dropped McCallister on a sloppy bodyslam and then just looked up and shrugged. C-Student Bobby Ballentyne? 75% Bobby Ballentyne? But I liked him getting hit by McCallister. This was easily my favorite stuff from McCallister since we've been watching. He throws nice punches right at his eye level, cracked Ballentyne with a shot to the back of the neck, threw a nice fast elbow drop, and I liked the no-knee atomic drop (just dropping Ballentyne butt first on the mat). CWF treats its veterans properly and uses them properly, so I'm curious to see more of him (minimal pun intended).

3. Mike Mars vs. Number Boy

PAS: This was the right kind of squash. Mars throws Number Boy around and he lands in painful looking ways. Mars pop up headbutt is pretty nasty looking and a fun variation on a really popular wrestling set up. I like that Number Boy's only offense is the punches in the corner, counting gives him power.

ER: I think I actually liked Mars more in that brief 6 man tag a couple weeks back. I think some big guys work better matches against big guys, other impressive squash match workers aren't as compelling against guys their size. Mars looked totally fine in this squash, but I think he looked better against the big dudes that were in that match. Maybe he plays up to the opponent? Tough to tell with just two quick looks at him. I thought Number Boy's standing punches looked good, and not to stomp all over Phil's (funny) joke, but he also had numerous dropkicks. The pop up headbutt from Mars was unexpected, I was just expecting a flapjack or something. A headbutt will always add intrigue. Also, part of me hopes that Number Man became Number Boy, and soon Number Boy will beget Number Child with his choice of Number Partner.

4. Logan Easton Laroux vs. Tracer X

PAS: Ultra J titles is sort of the CWF Worldwide version of the X Division so we get some indy style juniors matches. Not my favorite style of work, but this was a fine version of it. X is a really good athlete and has some fun fancy offense, I liked his diving into the ring version of the stroke, shocking no one every used that in WCW back when every third guys finisher was a facebuster. Finish was clever with Laroux sneaking in an un foul while the ref wasn't looking. I appreciate he is bringing in some dirtbag cheating into the spotfests.

ER: I thought this was an okay match with a great finish, and probably another new peak for the Laroux character. I thought he was great in the culmination of the Smith Garrett angle (which, no matter how much the angle itself might have made your head hurt the longer you thought about it, also featured far and away Garrett's best character work) and here - as Phil said - someone is finally bringing dirtbag cheating to spotfests. And, importantly, it's not in a winky funny "cool heel" way. Laroux isn't out there to be liked by the fans, and that goes a long way for him. The match was what it was: some of the exchanges were cool, the dance-y stuff looked dance-y (getting tired of the "kick a guy to perfectly spin him into position for him to throw an elbow, which spins you into the perfect position to land a spinning heel kick" kind of stuff). X is very quick and moves impressively (his cartwheel out of a wristlock was awesome) but sometimes gets too far ahead of himself with this athleticism, focusing more on his landings than the actual move he's doing; so he'll do a cool wipeout on an elbow, mostly whiff on the elbow, but the wipeout will look cool. BUT, we had that great finish, with Tracer hitting a nice high kick from the apron and Laroux stumbling behind the referee before slyly booting Tracer right in the balls as he was getting back in the ring. The timing and execution were great, and I loved the way Laroux smugly left the ring, took off his wrist tape and tossed the crumpled tape aside without even looking where or who he was throwing it to, and walking off with his belt.

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

2017 Ongoing MOTY List: Lomeli v. Negro

87. Chavo Lomeli v. Guerrero Negro Jr. Coahuila 1/1

ER: Every neighborhood in Mexico must have a tubby local tecnico or a tubby local rudo, born and raised in that neighborhood and wrestling exclusively in that neighborhood. Chavo Lomeli is in his late 40s, wears great tassel tights like old tubby Jerry Estrada, looks like current Felino (+ 40 lb.) and was unseen by mine eyes until now. And again, there are hundreds of Chavo Lomelis in Mexico, and I'm always excited when a new one pops onto my radar. This was a fun New Years hair match, and Lomeli has a great head of hair on the line. You remember Negro as the worst participant in the Busca de un Idolo, and he's mostly what you remember: A guy who can do a dive and take a couple nice bumps. Chavo is a big bumping fatty which is probably the quickest way into my wrestling heart. Negro roughs him up with knuckle punches and Chavo continues the tradition of fat guys being great bleeders. Negro tosses him into the third row of not ready fans, and Negro has a bunch of bad body seconds roaming the ringside waving towels and sneaking boots in on Chavo. Negro eats a chairshot, Chavo does the excellent Harley Race bump where he falls backwards through the ropes and splats onto the floor. Negro hits a dive and Chavo ends up tossing HIM into those same fans. Finish is typical lucha ref fast count BS, but happens with good reason as Negro throws a punch at Chavo, misses, and ends up throwing the nastiest strike of the match right into the ref's jaw. Fun start to the indy lucha year.

PAS: Sort of a B- bloody hair match, but we get so few bloody hair matches these days, and bloody hair match is such a great match type, B- is going to get you on a list. Guerrero Negro Jr. is easier on the eyes when he has less to do, he isn't trying to keep up with Dragon Lee, he is just trying to punch an old guy in his bloody head. There is an obvious Negro blade job, but otherwise he was fine. Lomeli was a blast, you just know he has defended that luxurious mane many times before (probably in better matches) and he knows how to work a compelling apuestas match. We have the dominant heel opening caida, the quick turnaround second fall with Lomeli turning a sunset flip into a reverse package piledriver (which must have shocked Negro). Third falls has all of the bumps and dives you want, and a fine BS lucha finish. I love grimey lucha hand helds and this was a blast.


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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

CWF Mid-Atlantic Worldwide Episode 122

Episode 122

1. Roy Wilkins vs. Montana Black

ER: Yeah baby Montana Black is Back! He's a guy we saw seemingly ages ago that I've been wanting to see again, no reason why I should be deprived of this dude. This is worked simply, with Wilkins moving all around Black as he stands tall as an unchoppable tree. Wilkins fights him like a heel Westley fighting a babyface Fezzik jumping on him and trying to take out those legs. Black doesn't have thick legs, so Wilkins' shoulderblocks to the inner knee seem extra tough. I loved him jumping in for an abdominal stretch and how badly everything went when he tried jumping on Black. Black hits a mammoth face buster, picking up Wilkins in a full nelson and just planting him face first. His power looked legit and Wilkins took the bump like Wile E. Coyote falling face first off a cliff. I was disappointed when no dust cloud ploofed up. Black gets distracted and Wilkins blasts him behind the ear with his golden ticket plaque. I really love these 6 minute CWF matches. They always feel like they accomplish so much for the allotted time. I want more Montana Black!

PAS: Montana Black is two for two with me in singles matches. He is legit huge and seems to understand how to use his size, he actually works a lot like Andre the Giant, all open hand thudding chops and immobility. Wilkins is great at working as a cerebral wrestler, and I loved him try to solve the puzzle, before just giving up and smashing Black in the head with brass knuckles. I actually think Black would be a great addition to the All-Stars as a sort of a monster equalizer.

2. Slade Porter vs. Cam Carter

ER: This wasn't a bad 5 minutes, though some parts felt a little too rehearsed, it still had cool stuff. I was admittedly distracted by Cain Justice on commentary, as he wasn't really working in character, instead he came off like a more southern fried Snagglepuss. "That was a nice floatover, a nice drop down, even." We've seen Porter a few times now and this is probably the best he's looked, specifically thought a couple of his more complicated moves looked painful (like that nice leaping back elbow), and I liked Carter's low German suplex. This still felt like more of a touring match, but if you got 5 minutes to make an impression I can see using your touring match.

PAS: This didn't do it for me, I think Porter is one of the worst guys who shows up semi-regularly, and serious Porter was just as try hard and fun loving Porter. There was a section where Porter was throwing punches that were getting blocked which was comically bad looking. Carter has some potential and nice athletic ability, but wasn't going to be able to save this.

3. John Skyler vs. Jason Kincaid

ER: Skyler comes out wearing the one armed, studded leather jacket like Finlay or a Mad Max villain. It's a look I don't think I can pull off. But maybe it's one of those "confidence is key" things, where if you just act like you're someone who can pull off a one armed, studded leather jacket with one armor-like shoulder pad, then you can pull it off. I remember when vests became popular again among men, and I tried one on and just felt like I couldn't make it work. I felt like too much of a phony. So I might *think* that I wouldn't be able to pull off a Mad Max vest, but I don't know for certain. But I liked this match, even though I thought it could have been trimmed a bit. I was surprised how much Skyler was in control. I thought several of Kincaid's comebacks came off unnatural, just because Skyler was doing nothing but hitting him with big moves. Early on he used a lot of speed to stay one step ahead, or logically set up offense off of Skyler's misses, like that sunset flip powerbomb sending Skyler into the bottom buckle. But at a certain point this just felt like Kincaid barely kicking out of something, then just going back on offense. And sometimes the offense he set up felt a little longwinded, like the 619 from the entrance ramp, or the finishing cutter off the top that required Skyler to lift him into position to do the move. I don't like that kind of stuff. But for a longer match I thought they mostly filled the time well, and there were plenty of big (and little) killer moments, like Kincaid's crazy stomp to the face off a ringpost, and Skyler doing a deep back rake to sink in a powerbomb.

PAS: I liked this more then Eric did. I am a fan of Kincaid's fancy offense, it fits well with his character and spots like the double stomp off of the ringpost are legitimately awesome. I also really like Skyler, he is an ex CW Anderson and Preston Quinn tag partner and he has that same methodical yet forceful style. I did think it might have gone a bit too long and I thought the 619 from the ring entrance was kind of dumb, but I thought the finish was great. Stuttsy had been talking all match about Skylers top rope Finlay roll being his killer move and Kincaid reversing it in mid air into a stunner was crazy athletic and cool.

ER: I liked the stuff with Snooty and CL in Chapel Hill, with Snooty showing her his favorite 24 hour restaurant. Not only did I like Snooty (and CL) more after this, it made me want mac and cheese and a chicken biscuit. After all these scary beyond belief fires out here in CA this past week+, what kind of place do you think I can afford in Chapel Hill or Gibsonville? Somebody sell me on NC!

4. CW Anderson & The Dawsons vs. Chet Sterling & The Sandwich Squad

ER: I would have liked 5 more minutes from this, and 5 less from the prior match. I mean before the bell this match already had a woman in the crowd throw her nachos for a total bullseye on Zane Dawson, and then the Squad picked up a couple of the nachos and ate them. The parts of this match where CW and the Dawsons were picking apart Sterling were the best, I could have easily taken more of a heat segment. CW was vicious with everyone. His staredowns are maybe my favorite in wrestling, he never skimps on stomach kicks, and he never tries to get cheers. He is a bad man through and through. I like Sterling more every week, and I think he's especially good as the sympathetic babyface in matches like this. He fights to comeback nicely, sells well (which might be easier to do when Zane is smacking you in the ribs, or Dave is twisting you in a cravate, and CW is throwing big right hands to your face), but I like him getting dropped with a backdrop, coming up holding his shoulder and still wanting to fight, loved CW working that shoulder over his own while digging an elbow into Sterling's neck. I love how CW kept on Sterling, even when things started to break down and everybody got involved, he still lazered in on Sterling until he stuck that spinebuster. I thought the finish was real great as Biggs hits a mammoth Thesz press, but CW breaks up the pin with a killer low superkick; Biggs struggles back to his feet and shoots CW a look, but CW nails another one, Zane hits a lariat, and Dave dumps him with an awesome Saito suplex.  The Converse/Anderson standoff at the end of the episode hyped me even more for WarGames.

PAS: The beginning of this match with the face team all holding their trophies and the heels holding their belts, plus the faces taunting the lady into tossing her nachos was classic wrestling horseshit. Great CW performance, he was the conductor of the whole match, masterminding the beat down on Sterling. Coming in and hitting brutal cheap shots, right hands and his nasty spinebuster. I always enjoy watch the Sandwhich Squad do their thing, and Mecha hits an especial big time lariat. Finish was really great the Thez press by Biggs is world swallowing, and that short superkick by CW looked like it broke Biggs jaw.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

2017 Ongoing MOTY List: Hechicero v. Valiente

42. Hechicero v. Valiente CMLL 10/6

ER: Really cool lightning match, and really Hechicero should be a guy who should just work a lightning match challenge gimmick. He's got a deep tool bag and is probably the best-equipped guy in CMLL to work weekly 10 minute singles matches (Negro Casas would also obviously be great at this). Hechicero tools Valiente on the mat, working some nice headscissors spots, really making it look like Valiente couldn't move if he wanted to. He ties him up, wrenches a nasty armbar with headscissors, does a sick rolling drop down allowing him to snag Valiente's ankle, all nice stuff. It's capped off by a cool German suplex variation where he lifts Valiente vertically and then just kinda drops him. He gets cocky and goes up top, leading to a rough spill to the apron that sees his knee getting hung on the top. Valiente hits a gorgeous rolling armbar that splats Hechicero to the floor, then we get a high speed Valiente tope and his still fantastic Valiente Special moonsault to the floor. We get Hechicero coming back and removing the straps (!) and breaking out tiny things I've never seen from him (like his leaping side kick under Valiente's chin). The ankle comes back into play as Hechicero locks in a rolling ankle lock, and actual effective rolling move as each roll looked like it was adding more pressure.

PAS: Total blast of a shortish TV match. These two had a great match in Monterey about a decade ago which was pretty much everyones first intro to Hechicero, and both guys seemed to have not aged a bit. Glad to see Hechicero get a chance to shine even in a truncated format. Really liked all of the aggressive early matwork, especially all of Hechicero's takedowns. Also it was nice to see the return of bump freak Hechicero as he really takes a nasty fall to the floor off of Valiente's armdrag, which leads to a great tope and gorgeous Valiente special, which is still one of the best highspots in wrestling. Loved the finishing rolling ankle lock as well, about as good a 8 minutes of lucha as your are going to get, would really love to see these two get another long showcase match.


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Monday, October 16, 2017

CWF Mid-Atlantic Worldwide Episode 121

Episode 121

1. Jason Kincaid vs. Chip Day

ER: I really like Kincaid, glad they brought him in and I hope we see him more. He's possibly the most athletic guy to also own multiple Blind Melon CDs. He's probably the most athletic guy out of all guys called "dirt weed" by their friends. I kind of need to see a team of Kincaid and Aric Andrews, two lanky scuzzy dudes, Team Black Crowes Guitar Tech! Kincaid flops around nicely for offense, leans into kicks (and I really like Day's spin kicks to the chin, and his kicks to take out Kincaid at the shins). Day is a guy with a lot of offense, and much of it he pulls off effortlessly, a guy who has a moveset that actually feels like his moveset, in spite of it being large. And I like how his moveset can also be complicated enough to make him vulnerable. This was plenty of fun, and yeah I hope we get more Kincaid.

PAS; This was good stuff, felt like a touring indy match, with both guys getting to show off their cool spots and a sensible well worked finish. Kincaid has a bunch of really innovative stuff that all makes sense and doesn't look contrived. Most guys who work an innovator style end up throwing in a bunch of superfluous junk, Kincaid is flashy but it all connects. I especially love his top of the ringpost double stomp, he missed it here but it always looks dangerous. Day was landing his kicks good, and I really liked his ankle pick submission attempt. I am not sure what Day's persona is though. I think he should just lean into his new Wikileaks gimmick , have him dox his opponents before the match, he can leak emails of tag partners talking shit about each other, Day could be the guy who got LaRoux Smith Garrett's medical records. Maybe you could have Gabe sending in EVOLVE guys to take Day out, Day v. Fred Yehi or Keith Lee could be really great.

2. Cain Justice vs. Dirty Daddy

ER: I love Justice coming out quick following the previous match, and immediately getting into Day's face. I already want to see Justice against just about anybody, but he has a way of adding to potential future match ups, always setting up little reasons for other people to want to fight him other than "we were booked against each other off camera". It's little, but it adds a lot. And this match rules as Cain goes after Daddy's left arm in some sick ways, including snapping it back over the top rope. And Daddy is so good as a fighting babyface, always firing back at Justice with hard shots. I loved how Cain smacked him a couple times and then was shocked to find Dirty hits harder. Dirty is also super mindful of his injured wing, selling appropriately at all times. Loved Cain blasting him with a lariat and the look on Cain's face when Dirty doesn't budge. Daddy's offense looked killer here, I especially liked him purposely over-rolling Cain on a backslide, sending Cain flipping over right into a vicious knee to the face. I loved the spot, as at first I thought he had just come in too hot on a backslide, then I realized it positioned Cain perfectly and naturally to take the knee. Very clever. Cain matches always seem to go just the right amount of time, and there's always a lot of high end action packed into them. There are usually a couple little match stories going on and we usually get satisfying results to those stories. This couldn't have been more than 8 minutes but had so much neat stuff going on, with a nice satisfying ending, I'd really love to see these two continue to match up.

PAS: I thought this was really great. Watching these two guys match up is like seeing early Flair v. Steamboat or the first Low-Ki v. Danielson matches, just a pair of prodigies at the start of what should be an all time great rivalry. Dirty comes in throwing bombs, clearly fired up trying to drop Justice early, his ripcord elbow is really sharp and violent looking. Cain of course goes after the arm, and is really sadistic, very early he tries for a crossarmbreaker and when he gets counters, he immediately switches to the other arm. There is a great spot early where he rubber bands the top rope into Dirties eyes, and later in the match when he tries it again Dirty just stomps a mudhole into him. I loved the end with Cain knocking Daddy silly with some brutal forearms to the back of the head, when the ref pulls him up, Daddy spits in Cain's face, it was a great "fuck you" before dying, and leads right into Cain superkicking him and slapping on the twist ending. I want to see every single match up these two ever have.

3. Arik Royal vs. Beau Crockett vs. Mike Mars vs. Mecha Mercenary vs. Aaron Biggs vs. Snooty Foxx

ER: This was a bit of a rushed mess, but with a "winner gets title shot" stip like this you either work a long match and then have the winner gassed for his title shot, or you work a short inconsequential match that's just a lead in for the main. I guess I'd rather have the latter, as the main event singles has potential to be the better match. But this is one of those short multimans where guys are selling way too much way too early, and it's a shame because I like how a lot of these guys match up. Still, even in the short time we still get Royal taking a beefy clothesline to the floor (hitting his knees in rough fashion on the apron on his way down), Mecha throwing meaty chops, clotheslining Mars in the face, a big Snooty spear, a huge Biggs samoan drop on Royal, obviously some fun stuff. When you put some of these guys in a match and let them do things, those things are going to be fun. Crockett and Mars seem to just be in there for the same reason Misawa has Satoru Asako on his trios team or Stan Hansen has Lacrosse as a tag partner, or how Eric has the hottest wrestling analogies from 1997. But one of those guys were clearly in there to eat a pin, and it doesn't make a lot of sense that they'd even be this close to title contention. This was a "2nd chance" 6 man, when did Crockett or Mars ever get a 1st chance? I'm fine with the end result, as I love the Squad and would love to see them in more singles, but at this rate they may as well have just given Mecha an offscreen title shot.

PAS:  This was a fun idea, I like putting all the big dudes in one ring and let them pound on each other, but the execution was wanting a bit. Mars I understand because he is large, but Beau Crockett isn't 300 pounds so he is an odd man out and an obvious candidate to get pinned. Some of the work here was fine, but I would have rather had this go a big longer and have some drama.

4. Mecha Mercenary vs. Trevor Lee

ER: Yes yes yes! This is the first time I've seen Lee against a monster fat dude, and the first time I've seen Mecha in a singles match (let alone a long main event), and it all couldn't have gone much better. Outside of one moment where it looked like Mecha let Lee out of a tight pin, this was a fully plausible monster vs. scrappy brave defender with some awesome twists and constantly killers spots. These two blast each other with strikes the whole match, huge lariats from both (Mecha turns Lee inside out a few times with his great lariats, and one of the best moments of the match is Lee hulking up and practically dislocating his shoulder to crush Mecha with a standing clothesline), and some really cool learned behavior. Lee made up the size difference by being nasty and persistent. Mecha may chop harder, but Lee can chop you right in the eye, motherfucker! I loved all the play around Lee's apron kick, with Mecha catching the first attempt and grabbing him in a fireman's carry, other attempts see Mecha swinging at Lee's legs with Lee jumping over, and finally Lee hits one and adds another for good measure. They were really good at showing Lee's normal attacks might not affect the big man as much, or might work differently: I loved when Lee went for the STF and couldn't really roll him over, so Mecha ended up on top in a very close pinfall. Mecha goes into the match seeing the trail of bodies Lee's title reign has left in its wake, and clearly ramps things up, sometimes to his disadvantage: He goes to the middle rope two different times and never looks comfortable up there, but knowing how effective his awesome elbow drops are from the mat, think of the damage he could do from the middle? Lee is crafty and makes Mecha pay for it, and the build for this was really good. Part of me was rooting for Mecha to win the belt, part of me was rooting for Lee to figure out a way to take down this giant and put another notch in the belt. The finish was coconuts and well played, with Lee flying off the ropes and getting caught in what surely would have been a crushing powerslam, but coming in so fast and rotating so quick that he flips through and lands on top of the powerslam. The move looked awesome, and the pin was handled perfect with Lee getting barely enough for the 3, the reversal surprising Mecha just long enough to keep him down, kicking out right at 3 but a split second too late. Money.

PAS: Really good stuff. I love how diverse Lee's title matches are, especially lately and it was fun to watch him work basically a modern day One Man Gang. Mecha is really great at projecting his size, sometimes guys that big will want to show off their athleticism, but Mecha is great at being a mountain to climb. Even a simple cradle is super impressive when it is a refrigerator sitting on your chest. I loved how they set up Lee's german suplex, even great big men like Vader would jump a little too much when they got thrown, Mecha obviously had to assist on the german, no way a human could throw a guy that big with out help, but he didn't leap, Trevor muscled him over and it looked like an enormous feat of strength. I also loved the second rope moves backfiring, Mecha isn't showing off his moonsault, he doesn't belong up there and paid for his hubris. Also that finish didn't even look humanly possible, again somehow Mecha made a move that requires cooperation look like a one man miracle.  I watched it three times and have no idea how either guy pulled it off. I also love the multi match story they are telling about Lee's arrogance, calling Mecha a bitch and telling him to hit him harder, is exactly the kind of thing which will cost Lee his belt, whenever he loses it, and they are doing a great job of sowing seeds for his fatal hubris.

ER: These shows have been flying high lately, I can't believe how many we've already reviewed. And, as is becoming a trend, we've added another match to our 2017 Ongoing MOTY List. Mecha vs. Lee was another in an awesomely booked main event program.

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

AIW Absolution 7/21/17

Dominic Garrini v. The Duke

PAS: This was kind of an odd match. Duke is a heel manager who looks like a Illinois High School Defensive Line coach. You would think Garrinni would just squash him, but it was a really competitive match with Duke kicking out of a piledriver, throwing back suplexes, escaping submissions ect. Duke is a big dude, but it is weird to have a manager take 60% of a match with suplexes and not eye pokes. If you were watching the match in a vacuum the work was pretty good, and Garrinni is always worth checking out, still the booking was goofus.

Frankie Flynn v. PB Smooth

PAS: I had seen both of these guys in CWF before but they both looked better here, working with people you are familiar with can be really helpful. Smooth is listed at 7 feet tall and is probably legit 6'9 or so. He had really nice power moves including some nice bodyslams and a great chokeslam. Flynn works over the knee and does a nice job working it over, and Smooth does a nice consistent job selling it. Finish has the ref distracted while Flynn's crew attacks Smooth, while everyone is confused Flynn clips Smooth's knee with the rookie trophy and puts his feet on the ropes for the win. I enjoyed this, basic match, but well done and I would enjoy seeing either guy against Cain Justice in CWF-MA for the RGL belt.

Britt Baker v. Swoggle

PAS: This was a comedy fans bring the weapons match between a midget and a woman with a lot of mishigas, lots of run ins including Dick Justice doing a flip flop and fly and Space Monkey doing a Orihara moonsault. Swoggle took some semi-nasty garbage bumps including going but first into carpet tacks and getting barbed wire up his nose. I was semi amused by Swoggle taking a bump into Lucky Charms like they were thumbtacks. The finish had Adam Cole run in under a mask and clean out the heels so Baker could get the win. I am not a Cole guy, but he seems like a pretty big star to book for a surprise run in on a comedy match.

Eddie Kingston v. Tom Lawlor

PAS: I am always very happy to see a big time Eddie Kingston singles match. Kingston isn't going to grapple with you, so this had less jujitsu rolling then the other Lawlor matches I have watched, but they replaced with grappling with Kingston chops and backfist to the face. This was these guys doing an All Japan main event and Kingston's selling put it at a higher level then most matches of this style.  Every shot was impactful and every suplex was compressing. Lawlor has really good looking suplexes and is willing to take an asskicking. Lawlor does his neck snap move and Kingston sells it like it gave him nerve damage. Even the suplex no sell section had Kingston fighting through adrenaline and both guys collapse on their face. Finish was pretty great with Lawlor turning a Tazmission into a nasty ground and pound into a guillotine. Loved Kingston fighting from the ground until he ate one too many elbows and slumped unconscious.

ER: These two matched up great, and I think they used the right percentage of each man's strength. Kingston is a furious striker who often gets into fights with better strikers, and still brings it even as you can see his life meter draining the whole match. Lawlor comes out looking like Chuck Liddell and messes around by immediately flopping to his back. Kingston is game and I loved this front to back. Kingston tries his luck with some go behinds, lands some shots, and the longer the match goes - as Phil says - Kingston makes this mean so much more with his elite selling. Watching him go for a strike and become aware of numbness in his arm, or watching him take a strap down only to stumble down to a knee, things like that are part of what I love about pro wrestling. Suplex trading is almost always an instant fart noise in a match for me these days, but I love how these two handled it. Lawlor's first two Germans were absolute beasts. I don't know if he was planning this but I love that he played to the camera side with them, showing us the full side angle of the suplex. It really allowed us to see every step of it. Kingston is not a small guy and seeing the lift and the the throw and the landing was awesome.  Both guys throw full strength and I thought it was a big moment once Kingston got up and threw Lawlor. None of this felt like fighting spirit, it felt like typical Kingston not knowing when to quit. Kingston is a guy who quits when his body quits. He's still able to fire off some backfists, and that fist is always his ace in the hole, but you can't hit that backfist when you're on your back getting elbowed in the face. Lawlor locks in a tight standing guillotine and you can see Kingston fighting forward, trying to back Lawlor up, but smartly tapping. Awesome performance from both, killer style clash.

Ethan Page v. Shawn Schultz

PAS: This was a bullrope match, and a pretty well done one. Shultz is a southern guy who I remember enjoying in SAW. He has really nice downward punches, and for a guy billed as the master of the eye rake, he has a great eye rake. This could have used some blood, there were multiple times I assumed Page was about to blade, but he didn't, still Shultz had some really nasty choking with the rope. I also really enjoyed the crowd brawling, mostly fighting through the crowd rather then hair pulling and walking. Finish was slightly anti-climactic as Page just hit three uranages and dragged Shultz around to the corner, although overall the match exceeded expectations.

Chase Oliver/Garrison King/Joshua Bishop/Tre Lamar/AJ Gray  vs. Jollyville Fuck-Its (Russ Myers & T-Money)/Matt Justice/Young Studs (Bobby Beverly & Eric Ryan)

PAS: Man did I love this match. The concept is a group of AIW students challenged team of old school AIW guys. The first section of this match has the Old AIW laying a 75% Kurisu level beating on the rookies. Matt Justice nearly beheads Tre Lamar with a leg lariat, the Jollyville Fuck Its (who are a team I love and I need to seek out more of) have this great spot where T-Money puts Lamar in an airplane spin and Russ just punches him in the face on every spin. Garrison King has light up shoes an awesome secondary nickname (Garry "The King" Baller) and takes an absolute shellacking. After a really long one sided beating the rookies get a bit of an advantage with AJ Gray (who is sort of a ringer) and that leads into this awesome dive train, with Chase Oliver doing a Taka moonsault to the floor, Lamar hitting an insane looking Fosbury flop, Gray hitting a skytwister off the top and Justice Davey Boy Smith style powerslamming King off the top rope into a crowd on the floor. Finish run is pretty bonkers with everyone hitting big moves until the rookies get the big upset win. Batshit spotfest, with the old school team beatdown leading to a real structure that most of these kind of matches lack.

ER: This was the best. I had seen only a few of the guys in this match before, and a couple only because of one-off CWF appearances. The match is like a wrestling school horror story mixed with a prison drama, where 5 guys pay off the guards to look the other way while they lay a beating on the fresh fish. King draws the short straw and gets wasted by all of Old AIW. It never feels as unprofessional as Kurisu shoot KOing a rookie, but we get all sorts of slams and chops, the kind of slams that you know left some tingling fingers, and the kind of chops where they were being held prone and unable to defend. Matt Justice is a guy I'd never seen and came off as badass as Drew Galloway, just a big dude who can move as fast as anyone in the ring, and probably hit harder. His shotgun kick really was decapitating, and his chops to the chest and back played as the best chops in a match filled with sick chops, and his knee drop ranks among the best in wrestling. JFI are a killer team and their tag ins and doubles teams always brought the violence. T-Money came off like Sweet Brown Sugar in some of those violent 80s squashes, using impressive agility and stiff work. I can't believe the top rope didn't snap when he leapt over Myers and crashed full weight onto his opponent, and I loved him catching a Chase Oliver rana and powerbombing him into the buckles. Myers threw a bunch of nice punches, and that airplane spin with Myers throwing a punch to the ear every rotation was a riot! And for good measure he went and punched the rest of the New AIW in the head on the apron. Old AIW was clearly filled with glee at the beating they were delivering.

But the strength of the match was how genuinely and appropriately they sold New AIW's offense. This wasn't some Japanese match where the veterans puff out their chests and no sell every shot from the rookies, not even close. When Bobby Beverly got hit with a huge pop up double stomp to the chest it felt like a huge moment. And as Beverly lay on the mat we got a great shot of the beaten and tired New AIW standing on the apron, rooting him on, with King pulling himself up from the floor and slowly up each rope to root on his team. The dives really were a spectacular bunch of dives, with Lamar's super high leap Fosbury Flop being a standout, but that powerslam winning on craziness. Each dive was reckless and felt big, like New AIW had just taken their beating like men, and here we are STILL doing crazy shit. The spots in this were great, but there was real meat on these bones, the story an old and simple one, but one that almost always delivers. Every bit of this ruled.

Mia Yim vs. Shayna Baszler

PAS: These ladies had a very good match in the Mae Young Classic, that was more of a sprint, this was more a slow building title match, I am a bit torn to which I liked more. Shayna was great here, taking apart Yim's leg, low kicks to the thigh, nasty ankle joint manipulations, methodical and nasty, like if Ole studied ju-jitsu. Loved how the legwork came into play in the finish with Yim unable to fully lift Shayna for the package piledriver (which had beaten Shayna in their previous AIW matchup) she only got a close two count. When she goes for a second piledriver, Baszler slinks out hits an awesome gutwrench, and transitions into a brutal looking ankle lock for the tap. I am not sold on Yim's offense, but she did a great job selling and this was a really nifty match.

ER: I like how these two match up so it wasn't much of a shock that I enjoyed this. I loved Baszler going after Yim's leg the whole match, and thought Yim sold it nicely. After Yim misses an axe kick Baszler takes her down by grabbing her plant leg and we don't really look back. Baszler starts twisting at Yim's leg, kneeling on the inside of her knee, standing on her knee, stomping at her ankle, and I loved Yim trying to butt scoot away. Things peak when Yim attempts a cannonball in the corner, and Baszler leaps out of the corner with a knee. The knee looked flat out devastating, timed perfectly. It looked so damn good it was almost a shame that they had more match in them. But we still got cool moments the rest of the way, and I dug the shifting momentum gutwrench, thought Yim had a nice high knee of her own, always like that short clutch piledriver, super fun match.

Alex Daniels v. Joey Janela

PAS: Pretty fun Absolute title defense. Shortish spotfest sprint which is what Daniels does best. I haven't been following this fed, but out of context Gregory Iron as a heel is really weird. It just doesn't feel right to be cheering Janela beating the shit out of a guy with Cerebral Palsy. Iron takes a whooping too, big bumps and some nasty kicks to the face. I don't get why Daniels uses that brutal looking brainbuster throw into the corner as a set up move, but at least it lead right into a second slam and a two count here. Liked the finish, earlier in the match Iron rang the bell when Janela had Daniels in the crossface, here Janela puts the crossface on both of them until Daniels passes out. Nifty match which didn't wear out it's welcome.

Crazy Pain (Gringo Loko/Steve Pain) v. DJ Z/Laredo Kid v. NES (Facade/Flip Kendrick) vs. To Infinity and  Beyond (Cheech/Colin Delaney)

PAS: This reminded me of one of those IWRG school v. school ciberneticos, bunch of nuts just trying every insane move they can dream up. Delany does a baseball slide to the floor while german suplexing the guy in the ring, Facade does a rope walk Canadian destroyer, Flip hits a Code red into the turnbuckles, and on and on. Love Steve Pain, he is one of the best rudo bases in the world and he just flies with every rana and armdrag. Match really falls apart unfortunately as Flip does a 630 to the floor and cracks his skull either on the ringapron or floor. Everyone understandably freezes and they never really get their rhythm back. Finish has Loko faking another heart attack, and it is tough to do a worked injury angle moments after a real injury. This was apparently a rematch of an earlier match, and it did really make me want to check that one out.

Josh Prohibition v. Louis Lyndon v. Tim Donst v. Tracy Williams

PAS: I really enjoyed the opening sections of this match, which were mostly spirited crowd brawling. Lyndon was nuts, armdragging Williams into a row of chairs and hitting a rana off the merch table. I also enjoyed the Prohibition v. Donst brawling with Prohibition dumping an entire garbage can full of wet garbage on Donst's head, there was a moment where the moist garbage water cascades down his legs that was a disturbing as any death match bump. The match unfortunately really falls apart when everyone gets back into the ring Donst brings in a bunch of plunder and just kind of stands around for a bit until he is attack. Prohibition handcuffs him and they do this bad section where everyone is about to hit him but gets cut off (this included Williams preparing to chair shot Donst and then for some reason placing the chair against his own cheek to get dropkicked, painfully bad looking). There is then a long set up of chairs and fight on the top rope between Prohibition and Donst while I assume Lyndon and Williams went and got dinner or something. Just a mess. Post match Nick Gage comes out as a surprise to challenge Donst, and Nick Gage is always an awesome surprise.

PAS: Overall this was a really great show, three matches that make our MOTY list, two really high, and only the main event was actively bad. I wish AIW was a little easier to get, but I think I will be sending some more dough to SMV.

ER: Any time a show lands 3 matches on our Ongoing MOTY List, you know it's quality. I came away really impressed by some people I had never watched before, and that's always quality wrestle watching.

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