Segunda Caida

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

Friday, October 16, 2020


 El Hijo Del Santo/Mr. Atlas/Porthos vs. Negro Casas/Willy Cortez/Tahoma Kid - EPIC

MD: It's 2020 and we're the guys watching blurry lucha from ages ago. There are ample opportunities to figure out who the other guys are (past Cortez of course) but it's beyond me. They're all serviceable and enjoyable enough, even with some fun armdrag moments, but this is Santo and Casas and that's all you really need to know. They worked the mat. They threw themselves into the rope running. They gave each other a spirited and feisty hand slap of rivals after an exchange. Santo fought the world. Casas was everywhere at once during the beatdown, just a vulture picking at bones, diving in again and again. We miss the comeback but get the finish, where Santo stumbles on the senton/tope in a way that I'm not sure I've ever seen before but no one cares much once he goes diving past the turnbuckle. It's always great to see them and even a bit novel to see them anchor a local trios like this. They may have been running this sort of thing all the time but we only have so much of it so we're grateful for every new example.

PAS: Negro Casas comes into the ring with a top rope backflip, which I think places this match in the late 80s or early 90s, but it is hard to tell. I imagine Casas and Santo just did this kind of thing multiple times a week, come to a town and serve as the anchors of a trios match with locals. It isn't the kind of thing which normally made tape, so it is awesome that we get a window into what that looks like. Everyone else in this match were solid journey men, Porthos had a nice dropkick, Mr. Atlas had a fun signature bump etc. Santo and Casas of course are all time greats and they showed why. Loved the first stand off the most, with Santo putting on a front face lock and them working cool spots around it, both guys were at their athletic peak at this point, and the stuff that would be cool 10 years later a little slow, was done with real speed here. We get the senton/tope combo from Santo and some nice brawling on the floor. These guys came to town and delivered their show.

ER: Santo/Casas is one of the greatest matchups in the history of wrestling, two dance partners impossible to critique whenever they're paired. It's one of the most inventive and innovative pairings, moving in ways I've seen wrestlers duplicate but never as well. The Santo/Casas exchanges in this match were among the greatest I've seen from them (two men with nothing but greatest) and evokes the same brightness as the best of the unearthed French Catch. The movements are really breathtaking, and the fans reacted like they were seeing the greatest tumbling act at a circus. I love Casas back flipping into the ring, because he's been great in so many different ways using so much different athleticism that he somehow surprises you every match no matter the era. The pendulum roll throughs and monkey flips and snap armdrags and fast dropkicks are all gorgeous. Santo does more cool floatover takedowns than I've seen in a match before, each one different and each one using differing body physics. But by the Segunda it's Casas holding Santo up in the corner just so he can continue kicking his ass. And boy does Casas kick Santo's ass, throwing bull body punches at the face and chest and then lifting Santo back up into position again. The other guys were no slouches either, and I was especially a fan of Willy Cortez, had a loudmouth Mocha Cota/Karloff Lagarde Jr. vibe to him. With quick hard attacks and bumps that make the tecnicos look like superheroes. I thought this was all fantastic, the greatest kind of lucha, that offered more than just some of the the best sequences from the greatest luchadors of the past 40 years. 

Jerry Lawler vs. Eric Embry USWA 7/21/91 - GREAT

MD: Glorious Embry performance here. It's a masterclass in hiding the chain, including using his mouth multiple times to do it, made all the better by the fact it's an actual chain. Despite that, my favorite bit is when he plays hide the pile driver, getting the ref distracted by fans complaining about the chain and sneaks one in. Lawler eventually drops the strap and gets his revenge, though they go an extra loop around as he misses the fistdrop. That lets the ref get in on the act as well and everyone goes home happy (but Embry of course). Perfect Memphis BS made better by the small and intimate setting. I'm not sure the mouth stuff would have worked as well in an arena.

PAS: This was Lawler really taking a backseat and letting Embry cook. This was mainly an early 90s feud so we don't have the MSC arena footage, but from what we have Embry is up there in the top tier of Lawler opponents. They are very similar wrestlers, Embry is like Lawler if his sin was stiumlants instead of young girls (or in addition to young girls, I don't know what Embry was up too, but I am sure nothing good), and this is a very heel Lawler performance, hiding the chain, sneaking a piledriver, riling up the crowd. Lawler was there to take the cheap shots and come back huge. The strap drop was a monster moment and Embry really flies around the ring for the big comeback. It's cool to watch small club Lawler like this. I imagine the Memphis Lumberjack match between these two this same month was a monster, but watching them riff is really fun too.

ER: I always view Embry as a stooging extension of Dutch Mantel. Lawler/Dutch is an all time great pairing, and Lawler/Embry makes a great pairing for the same reasons. Embry has a harmless scumbag vibe that plays well to these great crowds, and is a type Lawler can strongly play off. Embry stalls with a hidden weapon but does it more like a bleacher bum than Mantel. Is Eric Embry the best possible Brooklyn Brawler? I think we finally got there. Lawler's comeback is one of my favorites I've seen of his in a while (and I watch a lot of Lawler matches), a great mix of fiery and funny perfectly executed. You can tell the strap is coming down and watch it build, and the timing on it is so perfect and joyously followed with him rustling up his own hair like a Three Stooges fight. His run of punches are as good as those punches get, really knocks Embry's block off. We build to a wild finish with Embry bumping a tough old man ref (I don't know him so somebody outshine me with you knowledge). That old man ref comes back and he and Lawler pinball Embry back and forth with increasingly great punches. The slow build pays off the finish so well, gives us a match that would warm your fandom if you were there live. 

Yuki Ishikawa vs. AKIRA Kana Produce 6/17/12

MD: The last Ishikawa we saw for NFF was a far off camera shot. I get the notion that wrestling needs lots of quick cuts if you're close up and in HD. I don't believe it but I at least understand it. Obviously, that's not the case with the close-up limb manipulation magic of Ishikawa and we're better off that this is up close and personal. You get all the little detail work from him, including the way he splays his fingers to get just a tiny bit more leverage on a hold. AKIRA is a game opponent who can both hang on the mat (not win, but hang) and as a lot of cool flourishes he loops in. There's one funny moment in this (where AKIRA goads him on the outside and Ishikawa teases a dive) and one hilarious one (where AKIRA goes to the top so Ishikawa scuttles back and sits cross-legged, only to give the biggest surprised/horrified face as AKIRA dashes at him with a low dropkick). Ishikawa damages the arm early with a pumphandle, and does some fun stuff like an Octopus. AKIRA targets the leg more as the match goes on, including with a bunch of dropkicks to it. They escalate to striking and then a couple of bombs, before AKIRA damages the arm more on a top rope splash(!) but manages to snag a small package at the moment Ishikawa was set to capitalize it. This never got too serious, but it was a grab bag of variety and fun.

PAS: Post prime Ishikawa is really amazing stuff. He has been an occasional wrestler for a decade or so, but pretty much every time he has popped up it has been class. AKIRA is also a guy who has been more of a part timer for almost his entire career, and this was a really cool style clash I had never thought about before it happened. AKIRA is a really slick pro-style mat wrestler and it was nifty to watch that clash with the Fujiwarsism of Ishikawa. Yuki is always find nifty ways to insert moments of violence, he breaks an armbar by punching AKIRA right in the bursar sac, and takes control on the mat by punching AKIRA hard in the forehead. I loved the silent comedy face Ishikawa made on the low dropkick, and AKIRA's superfly splash looked awesome, more wrestlers should be using a simple top rope splash rather then just trying to flip and spin a bunch. 

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