Segunda Caida

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

Monday, September 28, 2020

Otto Wanz Recent Upload Challenge 1: Dave Barbie and Don Leo Jonathan

MD: Rarely, relative to the other guys, do I get a request to cover something. I'm not on twitter, etc., but hey, if someone wants me to cover anything, generally I'll find the time. Tim Evans caught me on DVDVR and wanted me to take a look at the recent German Catch uploads involving Otto Wanz. A lot of these were out their either in a more clipped form or broken into multiple videos, so they're not quite NFF material. I'm going two at a time and starting with the older ones when I can, with the exception of the Slaughter match since there's a longer one that'd been out there for a bit longer that I'd like to see too. 

Otto Wanz vs. Dave Barbee (85)

MD: This is clipped but I wouldn't say heavily. Considering most of the other Wanz matches go closer to 30 and this is a little under 10, it could be more complete, but you got the ebb and flow of it pretty well. Barbie was a mid-80s WWF enhancement guy who worked a few other places like Stampede. He looked like a guy who could lay in a good clubbering and at times here he did. It's a joy to see how over Otto was, especially considering our current lack of live shows. They kept this simple, with Barbie leaning into his foreigner's lack of understanding of the German rules to do damage and keep advantages. Early on they played with breaks, with Wanz breaking clean and Barbie not, but that meant when Otto finally body blocked him in the corner a few times, it got a big pop. Barbie was able to slam Otto no problem, which you think is something that should be more protected. His jabs and clubbering  looked good for the most part as I suspected. I'm also surprised he didn't get carded as he insisted on late elbow drops and choking in the ropes. It got him a little bit of heat, but the crowd really just cared about Wanz. Otto's comeback involved some nice revenge battering on the floor, including slamming Barbie's head into a table, before it went back into the ring for a piledriver, clothesline, and slam for the win. The crowd was elated with Wanz almost subtly conducting them at times. It was almost ritualistic. In general, I thought Wanz was fine here. I might have shifted the order of the finishing stretch and I'm not sure he always got his revenge at the right moments, but I'm ok watching more.

Otto Wanz vs. Don Leon Jonathan (80)

MD: I think this is from 80. DLJ is up their in years, of course. Wanz is younger, certainly more spry than he'd be just a few years later. He already had the crowd. This is heavily clipped too but you see a lot of cool stuff, so it's fine. DLJ has great presence and timing, great strikes that use his reach and height and size. He hit a dropkick at one point and did the rope-assisted backflip to get out of an armbar, as well as solid little bits of mat wrestling. Wanz was a force here, impressively launching a couronne escape (up and over, this time with a heascissors takeover) to an armbar and another bridging headscissors takeover to get out of a standing toehold. Towards the end, he hit three rolling sentons and a great Oklahoma Roll. What stands out almost as much as that agility was his fire and intensity; he really came at DLJ in his comebacks. He was like an out of control steam engine. A lot of the Wanz I've seen before feels like it's two decades later than this (when it's generally just a few years later), but it's easy to see how he won over the crowd and earned emotional capital to cash in later with younger performances such as this. This, unlike the Barbie match, was too clipped for me to get any real sense of it as a narrative however.


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Sunday, September 27, 2020

WWE Clash of Champions Disinterested Not Live Blog 9/27/20


I'm running behind. The last 24 hours I have spilled coffee on and fried my work/personal laptop, watched the Giants decide to not make the playoffs this year, then after found out my sister tested positive for COVID (she is a doctor, this was pretty much expected. She is also asymptomatic this time and thinks she caught COVID in January), so forgive me if my heart or brain isn't too focused on this show. I was interested in the women's matches but apparently it's a real hot time for women to give COVID a spin. It's not been a great day, and honestly I kind of just want something in the background that I don't have to focus too hard on. If I get a couple details wrong or opinions seem off, go easy.


Lucha House Party (Kalisto/Lince Dorado) vs. Cesaro/Shinsuke Nakamura

ER: This was our usual fine kickoff match; these things always deliver in almost the same satisfying way. They feel like a good 8 minute Thunder match. It fills time well and gets the right amount of runtime, not everything is hit clean but they also do some things they wouldn't do on Raw. That's my bar for a kickoff match (and pretty much my bar for any match really) and they clear it. The big fun stuff was big and fun, like Dorado hitting a tope to send Kalisto into a tornado DDT on Cesaro like a lucha Rube Goldberg machine (a tribute no doubt, RIP Notorious Rube Bader Goldberg) and a fun every turnbuckle moonsault spot (Cesaro scooted in on the top rope one and Kalisto overshot him by the amount he scooted in), and we got a bunch of Cesaro showing off his Chikara base skills. Nakamura had a fun performance as the less used heel, but the guy taking cheap shots from the apron. One of my actual favorite parts of the match was Nakamura just kind of rubbing Kalisto's head with his boot from the apron, Kalisto slumped in the corner getting his head lazily shoved around by a Nak boot. I love that kind of stuff. This cleared the kickoff bar.

AJ Styles vs. Sami Zayn vs. Jeff Hardy

ER: I cannot stand them, but I also always kind of love when Jeff Hardy brings back the eyeball lids. He's such a perfect little weirdo goofball. I'd be more into this as a singles with any two guys, but eyeball lid Hardy will probably do a couple of stupid things. But you know what? This was awesome! These three took turns trying to find ways to die off a ladder bump, they keep putting title belts on Zayn (love it) and they pull off some clever spots without coming off like they were being too clever. Jeff should not be taking these bumps, but Jeff is taking these bumps and he's nuts. He falls hard on his hip (I hope he wears pads under his Jnco jeans), crushes Styles with a swanton, gets tipped into the ropes, gets a ladder thrown at him, and eventually gets his droopy earlobe handcuffed to a ladder. Jeff Hardy has to drag this ladder along while it's attached to his body and it gives him a Joseph Merrick at Burning Man vibe. Zayn takes a couple a great bumps into the ladder, flying high on a backdrop and then managing to bump on 3 (4?) parts of a ladder, bouncing around like Sonic before hitting the mat. Zayn and Styles both had big welts on their back from hitting ladders so hard, and we got a really engaging Styles/Hardy exchange. Jeff was lobbing hard elbows at Styles' temple and their early fight at the top of a ladder was a real good version of that. The handcuff stuff played much better than it could have, and Zayn being a total brat really helped with that. A merry prankster in a wrestling ring is something that could be unbearable or really fun, and he seems to know the things that could make it work. I love that they put the belts back on him, Styles cuffed helplessly to the ladder, Hardy dragging his ladder coffin around by his ear, and Zayn walking tall. Great presentation.

Zelina Vega vs. Asuka

ER: This was fun, probably the best Vega singles we've had. It's a smart match strategy to just focus on an arm. It's a good way for her to get back into the match at any point, and I like heels making they way back into a match by just grabbing a face by the waistband and pulling them into the ring steps. Asuka knows how to work a match around Vega's limits and they give us decent breadcrumbs throughout. Could have done without some things down the stretch, but I liked Vega attempting to ape Daniel Makabe's bridging pin trick only to get caught for the immediate tap in the Asuka lock. The match had a smart layout and benefitted from it.

Apollo Crews vs. Bobby Lashley

ER: This one didn't grab me. There were some moments I liked, such as Crews' nice running back elbow that sent Lashley to the floor, the nice frog splash nearfall, and Crews getting a quick press slam on the bigger man (press slams are always a good thing). But Lashley matches always leave me dry, MVP needs to be involved for the Hurt Business stuff to hit. This was inoffensive and that's fine.

Andrade/Angel Garza vs. Street Profits

ER: Dug this, thought it built nicely and had a couple surprises, wasn't sure who would come away with the win. Ford looked cool as hell flipping into the ring like Solar and timing a perfect dropkick after doing so, but Andrade pastes him across the face with a dropkick tagging into the match later and that is also cool. I dug the ways Garza mashed Ford's face while cutting him off, really palming his face into the mat like a jerk. We got some nice moments of Ford juuuuuust about tagging in Dawkins, with a great moment of Garza yanking Dawkins off the apron at the last second. The Garza/Ford Spanish Fly looked like a super dangerous early 2000s CZW spot, which is kind of cool and kind of scary. Couple of off moments but an overall super satisfying tag title match.

Bayley vs. Asuka

ER: Oh man I am way more interested in Bayley vs. Asuka, even though Nikki could have been fun in a singles title match. And I WAS getting into this match, until the sudden DQ finish. That's not too satisfying. I would have really been into Asuka Two Belts and then more of a violent Sasha/Bayley feud with no belts at stake. This wasn't given the chance to be much, which is a shame. The energy was good up to the DQ, loved Asuka's fast German suplex and was getting into where it was going. Ah, well, nevertheless.

Randy Orton vs. Drew McIntyre

ER: This is not the night to spend 20 minutes with Randy Orton. Once I saw Orton take 7 minutes to get in the ring during McIntyre's long entrance, my brain screamed out for an audible. I saw Alopecia Big Show came back, and looked small (is Big Show okay?), and that's neat. I also saw Drew hit a Claymore kick through an ambulance door and that looked cool too. This was never going to be as cool as the parking lot brawl from last week, and I guess I'm kind of glad they didn't try to be? I'm sure these guys did great (I will never get excited for drama based around closing a car door).

Roman Reigns vs. Jey Uso

ER: This one did not work for me. I thought they at least put a good effort at inserting personality and family drama into a slow paced cousin fight, but it went on too long for me and wound up having the same effect as the Hart/Michaels Iron Man, in that I shortened the match by dozing on and off during the final half. They should have had this match at their auntie's house so that we could have seen them brawling past photographs and getting shoved over the couch with plastic on it and pressing each other under the floor runner. I did think the nearfalls all worked, as there was a point where I actually thought they were going to give Jey the big win. I think the offense should have been laid in a bit more if they wanted the slow drama to really connect, and I never got that. A lot of the talking didn't work for me, but I still really like what they did and what they went for. It is very possible in a different head space I will love this, so I may run this one back in the near future.



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Saturday, September 26, 2020

NXT UK Worth Watching:


Noam Dar vs. Zack Gibson NXT UK 7/28 (Aired 10/31/18) (Ep. #3)

ER: I really liked this, while also wishing it wasn't 21 minutes. I don't think any guys actually need 20+ minutes to tell their story, but that said this match didn't actually feel 21 minutes and that's in its favor. We had a story of Dar going after Gibson's left leg while Gibson just focused on attacking Dar anyway he could. Dar's leg work was really good, at first working a tight grapevine and Indian deathlock, and I think Dar's submission work is among the strongest in NXT UK. He doesn't skip steps and knows how to shift his body slightly to add different leverage, and I loved how he was adding twisting to keep Gibson's selling honest. Dar immediately kicking Gibson right in the shin as he escaped the hold was sweet icing. The leg was never a major sticking point during the match, but it was always Dar's key back inside, and I liked that. He had a couple of really high profile attacks to that leg, including a wild running dropkick off the entrance ramp, and a double stomp off the top while Gibson's leg was hung over the ropes. I don't know if I would trust somebody to do either of those things, where the margin of error for *actually* destroying my knee was that slim. But the spots come off really well and are great ways to slow down Gibson for long stretches.

My favorite moment was Gibson going for a dropkick off the middle rope, but Dar lightly sidestepping and hooking that left leg on the way down, then locking in a tight kneebar. Usually in a moment like that both guys will make it a bit too obvious that they are planning for a reversal to happen, but this felt very unexpected. It looked like Gibson was honestly throwing the dropkick, and Dar had to put in the honest work of grabbing the leg, it wasn't being hung out for him. Gibson has stronger strikes than Dar, while Dar attacks more in quantity, so Gibson was the one rocking him with elbows and hitting a big powerbomb on the entrance ramp. And Dar's selling can be a bit melodramatic, but he focuses on more interesting kind of selling drama than most modern workers. Most overdramatic wrestling selling is done exclusively with the face, and since most wrestlers are terrible actors, you just end up with stupid wide eyed open mouth facials to sell everything. Dar focuses his selling on selling his body, and while it can come off as a bit much, I appreciate someone stiffening their body in pain, selling muscle pain and a man getting the wind taken from him. I thought Gibson's knee selling was good, as it wasn't the overall focus of the match but he paid enough lip service to it to create openings. The finish was tidy and didn't send us through a long series of nearfalls with shocked faces, which was a contributing factor in this long match not feeling as long.


Ligero vs. James Drake NXT UK 7/29 (Aired 11/7/18) (Ep. #5)

ER: Ligero is really great at these 5-6 minute showcase sprints, really knows how to keep the selling respectable while keeping the action near constant. He really leans into beatings and that always makes a flier type more interesting to me, because snapping off a tight Code Red is cooler after that guy got his face kicked in. Drake is good at throwing sharp elbows to the jaw, and his corner dropkick really looked decapitating. Ligero sold a sore jaw throughout, and it wouldn't shock me if he was just a man reacting to getting kicked in the face. Drake works quick and hits hard when he gets there, and I kept being surprised at how Ligero would lean into it all. The nearfalls were good and I genuinely had no idea who was going to win, a competitive match without ever feel like they were taking turns. I love Ligero's tornado DDT finish, and the roster is filled with guys who can make sure the DDT looks like a finish.


COMPLETE GUIDE TO NXT UK


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Friday, September 25, 2020

New Footage Friday: YAMAMOTO!! ISHIKAWA!! CASAS!! DANDY!! SHOCKER!! GARZA!! FELINO!!


Negro Casas vs. Shocker CMLL 1/27/96

MD: Relatively short match to get Shocker over and set up future matches between them. As such, however, it was pretty effective. Shocker occasionally looked a little aimless when he had to carry the offense over multiple moves. About two-thirds of the time, he was aggressive as he should have been though, especially at the start when he took it to Casas before he even got his jacket off and in the post-match. This didn't have enough Casas control, but what we got was pretty brutal with running stomps and a moment of mask pulling on the second rope that ended with Casas stomping on his head before jumping over him and stomping again. While the end of the primera was just ok, they did a great bit of rope running to give Shocker the win in two falls. No one can run into a hold like the Reinera quite like Casas. It got the job done.


PAS: This was a sprint which had some great little Casas moments, an awesome Shocker tope which knocked Casas basically to the locker room, and a cool quick submission to the end the segunda. Casas was awesome as always, but Shocker seemed a little lost sometimes. He kept trying to go to the top rope, only to decide to hit Casas some more before finally knocking him to the floor to hit the tope, felt like he lost the script a bit. Nothing mindblowing for sure, but any new Casas is welcome Casas.

ER: I'm with Phil that Shocker felt a little lost throughout this one, but I love seeing young fast Shocker and I love seeing any era of Casas. Leather jacket Casas is particularly special, and I always  love how he acts like a dirtbag but will also immediately appeal to the ref for help. Shocker's tope was really fantastic (this is a guy who has an all time great tope, just watch any Shocker match from '96-'99) and the rest of the joy was all from smaller Casas strikes. I love the energy Casas uses to run into a stomp, the theatricality of his movements reminds me of the way Bill Dundee kind of slides into his right hands, rushing up on an opponent and swinging in with a punch. Casas kicks and stomps Shocker around the ring, rips at his mask, and really makes Shocker's reinera look like pro wrestling art. 


El Dandy/Hector Garza/Lizmark vs. Dr Wagner Jr/Emilio Charles Jr/Felino CMLL 1/27/96

MD: Really good trios here. The underlying hatred was between Charles and Dandy, but Wagner and Dandy were the captains, which is actually a very elegant way to keep them apart until later in the match and one that you don't see all that often. Dandy actually worked in and out of headlocks in the primera (paired with Wagner in a lengthy and very good exchange) which is not something you see a ton in random trios matches either. In fact, we got so much Dandy that none of the other pairings really stood out, including the beautiful bridging butterfly suplex he took the primera with. In general, I thought Garza looked good here. He might be the best wrestler in history for people to beat on because of how he was packaged and presented himself both as a tecnico and a rudo. Here he had a fiery comeback too to set up the finishing pairings. When Emilio and Dandy really got going in the tecera it was the usual magic between them. Good stuff all around.

PAS: This was really nifty. We got a long primera caida, with Dandy and Wagner given a long time to stretch out and work mat exchanges with each other. That isn't a matchup I remember seeing very much of, so it was neat to see it get so much time. Sleazebag heel Hector Garza is always going to be the Garza closest to my heart, but he was quite good as a fired up babyface here. He really gets after Wagner in the third fall, ripping his mask and really working intensely. I also loved how Dandy and Charles kept going after each other with Charles constantly running in to to stomp guys and Dandy finally cutting him off with that great Dandy right hand. Felino and Lizmark had smaller roles in the match, but it is always worth seeing Felino's trademark speed in action.



PAS: Yamamoto was the best of the late 00s BattlArts young guys, and he seemingly vanished when BattlArts folded, but he clearly kept working in tiny Japanese indies which don't make tape or Cagematch. I found his YouTube page and he is apparently running a fed called BAP (Battle and Arts Promotion) and this might be from that fed (hopefully we will be getting their DVDs soon). This was as good as it was 10 years before, with both guys landing super slick mat counters and Yamamoto especially throwing some heat. He hits a great body kick which rearranges Ishikawa's internal organs and lands a big knee to the jaw. After some nasty forearm and headbutt exchanges, Yamamoto makes the mistake of dragging Ishikawa to the ground and unsurprisingly the trap was set and Ishikawa was able to get a leglock for the tap. Great stuff. Yamamoto is still really good, and Ishikawa is ageless. 

MD: Great ambience here with a high angle camera shot. It's tricky to see some of the nuance in the holds maybe but you always have a clear view. I wonder about 2018 Yamamoto starting this with a slap. He's a little old for that but they pay it off later with some of the strike exchanges. Yamamoto spends a lot of the match subtly selling his leg, and is excellent at launching his kicks and knees from a position of weakness. Lots of position jockeying as the match rotated with strikes and selling. What you'd expect and a lot of what you'd want out of these two in 2018.

ER: This had a nice low key kind of exhibition feeling to it, and exhibition Ishikawa is someone who I think is still really engaging. Yamamoto's slap at the bell felt like it came from a different match than the one they wound up working. Someone slaps a guy when the ref is running down the rules (with a big shocked reaction from the ref) and I expect someone to make a murder attempt. The match that happened felt a little too good natured, but good natured from guys with these strikes is not something I'd want to be in the middle of. Yamamoto hits a nice kick that knocks Ishikawa off balance into the ropes, and maybe I'm starting to like the idea of Yamamoto slapping Ishikawa to try to get him to do something stupid. I liked the clear high angle view of our camera, but it does feel like we needed more of a ringside angle to see what was happening with the matwork. Ishikawa is someone who does a lot of cool work within a kneebar or single leg struggle, and I really couldn't get a strong feel of that. But Yamamoto's channel will definitely be something to watch, as any weird gymnasium shoot style that exists will need to be documented. 

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Thursday, September 24, 2020

Fujiwara Family: Ego's is Something the FUTEN Crush: FUTEN 1/30/11



Hajime Moriyama vs. Takeshi Ono

PAS: Moriyama is a U-Style and E-Style guy, and this was actually his last listed match on Cagematch. It was a hell of match to go out on, as Ono brutalized him with big knees, kicks and punches. He totally dots this kids face up, and by the end of the match he has two swollen cheekbones and cuts around his eyes. This wasn't a totally one sided beating though, Moriyama lands two beautiful suplexes, a backdrop and a dragon suplex both of which landed Ono right on the back of his head and neck, he is also able to attack Ono with submissions. Ono was full on though, everything you want from him, he slips out of dragon screw and toe kicks Moriyama in the forehead, hits this two punch spinning backfist and hook combo which was just gorgeous, and lands some punishing bodyshots too. What a magnificent bastard he was.

ER: A big thing I like about Futen is that nobody really gets chumped out here. Even the most punishing fighter is going to take SOME damage, it won't be a fully one sided beatdown. This fight was obviously dominated by Ono, and Moriyama was going to be taking a lot of damage along the way for sure, but Moriyama also got some cool moments of fighting back and two really nasty suplexes that could have been flash wins for him. He absorbs way too many Ono punches to the face, but when Ono misses a punch and takes a backdrop driver right on his neck and shoulders, it's one of those great Futen "is this going to get a TEN COUNT??" moments, and the same thing happens later when Moriyama catches him with a dragon suplex. Moriyama even tries to go wild early with a kneebar, holding it as long as possible and even trying to lock it on over the rope while standing on the floor. It's like he knew he was going to eat dozens of punches so he had to scrape out damage where he could. And, yes, Ono punches him a lot. And kicks him in the face, including one kick where Moriyama is on the mat and Ono slides in with one leg straight to the face. As many of these Futen matches go, the final few minutes is a battle to see how many 10 counts Moriyama would stand up for, and there's always some excitement when a guy keeps getting up (against all better judgment). But I loved the actual finish of Moriyama continuing to fight to his feet, going for slowed and weakened single legs and high kicks, and Ono easily dodging a high kick and letting Moriyama spin himself right into a brutal octopus.

Fujita Jr. Hayato vs. NARITA 

PAS: Hayato fit in FUTEN perfectly, he totally embrace the ethos of unprotected, uncalled for kicks, stomps and knees directly to the face and throat. He unloads a pretty disgusting beating on NARITA, and two matches into this show we have icepack central, with bruises, cuts and swelling on NARITA. Hayato feels like Takeshi Ono's spiritual successor in this match, a skinny prick who has no regard for his opponents well being. At one point he soccer kicks NARITA in the neck and jaw, NARITA slumps into the corner and Hayato follows with a eye obliterating running knee, just gross stuff. NARITA has some moments, he hits a German suplex and some submission attempts, but he ended up mostly being a breathing heavy bag.

Katsumi Usuda vs. Ryuichi Sekine 

PAS: Really interesting defensive performance by Usuda. He wrestled this match like he was Bernard Hopkins, dodging attacks by Sekine, and punishing mistakes with submissions and counter strikes. There was a great moment where he taunts Sekine into a headbutt exchange only to dodge the headbutt and sink in a Fujiwara armbar. At one point he just dodges and evades 10 straight punches and kicks. If Sekine was a more interesting offensive wrestler this could have been an all-timer of a match, instead it was a cool little experiment and a fascinating Usuda performance.

ER: If this is defensive Usuda I would hate to see offensive! Usuda takes Sekine apart and Sekine doesn't ever really appear to have a chance. Usuda is such a confident standing striker, love how he'll just kick out the inner ankle of Sekine and there's nothing at all that can be done to stop it. He wears Sekine down with kicks and his submission on the work really came off like he was going to advance no matter what attempts at stopping him popped up. Sekine had his one big moment where he caught an overhand strike and kicked Usuda into the ropes, then got to the apron and drove his knee into Usuda's head. It wasn't a moment that felt very Futen (felt more like something you'd see as a big moment in a Adam Cole/Tommaso Ciampa NXT main event), but it was cool seeing Sekine get a big knee. The finishing sub from Usuda was fantastic, as he locks in a rolling kneebar that looks like the finish, and Sekine starts wildly kicking at him with his free leg…except Usuda catches that kicking leg and twists it into an inverted figure 4. Usuda is a guy who always looks like he has a plan B to back up his plan A, and this was a beautiful visual of that. 

Manabu Suruga vs. Mitsuya Nagai 

PAS: I really enjoyed this too, Nagai has had a pretty hit and miss career, but usually delivers in FUTEN. His main attribute is his crowbarism, and this is Crowbar Central. There was lots of leglock fighting throughout the match, giving the whole thing an early Pancrase feel, with nifty grabbing and scissoring of limbs and some pretty class stand up exchanges (including some liver mulching body kicks by Nagai). No one wheel kicks someone in the ribs like Shinya Hashimoto but Nagai is the closest. All the submission attempts in this match were great too, Nagai twist Suruga into a twizzler with a stretch plum and Suruga rolls into some nifty arm bars and knee bars.

ER: This is one of those Futen matches that really makes me wonder if these guys just feel constant pain in their knee and elbow joints. Haven't we all had tennis elbow, where we have to hold our arm a certain way for a couple days because "hey doc it hurts when I do (this)"? These guys must be in 24/7 "hurts when I do this" territory, because you cannot get your limbs bent around this much without residual damage. Sometimes I tweak my knee a little while out running, and so I don't run for a few days, occasionally ice it, and am careful when walking down stairs. I assume these guys just look at stares with spite at this point. The submissions all looked really painful, and my favorite was Nagai using a bit of old school ingenuity and jamming his foot into Suruga's armpit, then bending Suruga's arm back over his foot. It looks like the kind of sub that would have won UFC 3. 

Daisuke Ikeda/Yuki Ishikawa vs. Kengo Mashimo/Makoto Hashi

PAS: What an awesome lineup. We don't have a lot of Ishikawa and Ikeda teaming together, and they are fun parejas team with some bickering early, and even Ikeda clotheslining Ishikawa when he was putting on an Indian deathlock (to give the move extra oomph). We get some good grappling from all four guys before it predictably devolves into a orgy of brutality. Hashi and Ikeda were the fulcrum of one of my favorite matches of all time, and we get to see them match up again, smashing their heads into each other in sickening ways. There is also some great Mashimo vs. Ishikawa matchups including maybe the best ground and pound I can remember seeing in a pro wrestling match. Ishikawa just unloads with punches square to the eye and jaw. This has more of a frantic style then some of the other FUTEN tags, and instead of ending in a long face off we have more near falls and tags in and out, including Hashi nearly getting a submission by touching Ishikawa's knee to the back of his head in a crazy submission, and Ikeda hitting an all impact superplex, before ending with Ishikawa trapping Hashi in a crazy leg stretch choke combo. You don't usually see Negro Navarro submissions mixed in with face kicking and punching and it was awesome here.

ER: Ishikawa and Ikeda teaming is a rare treat, something that's happened less than 10 times over the 25+ years these two have been running together. The most recent actually happened in the current cursed year of 2020, with them pairing off opposite Daniel Makabe & Chris Ridgeway (which is a great match that we reviewed and added to our 2020 MOTY List). This was the last time they tagged before that, and I like that they also treat it like a rare event. They act like a bickering Oscar and Felix, arguing over who is going to start the match, both putting one leg through the ropes to the apron while waving their hand at the other to get in there, culminating with Ikeda agreeing to start, shaking Ishikawa's hand, but then Irish whipping Ishikawa into the match only to see Ishikawa reverse his whip and send Ikeda into a Mashimo boot. It's a funny gag that you don't go into a Futen show expecting to see. This match also gives us (I believe) our only Ishikawa/Hashi pairing, and it's fitting that the match comes down to the two of them. A lot of this didn't feel super Futen to me, but not really in a bad way. We didn't get the insane level of violence we get from many Futen main event tags, and some strikes felt a little more held back than normal. Mashimo's kicks were more often grazing over the top of Ikeda's head, and Hashi's headbutts don't have the same hollow coconut thump that really lets me know that brains are getting scrambled. But I don't need all that to have a good time, and I thought we got a really fantastic Ishikawa performance. I loved his work with Mashimo and Hashi, and the mounted punches traded by he and Mashimo were my absolute favorite part of the match. Ishikawa works some cool deathlock variations on Mashimo to wear him down, and then throws the gnarliest mounted punches right to Mashimo's neck. These looked like they could have been immaculately worked punches, but it also wouldn't much surprise me if he was just punching Mashimo in the neck. Either way, Mashimo manages to turn it and immediately throws some receipts right to Ishikawa's jaw and temple. We get some real tight saves, and the final showdown with Ishikawa and Hashi is fun, and I thought for certain Hashi was getting the tap when he broke out a leg dislocating stump puller. Ishikawa's final sub looked like a finishing sub, locking his arm around Hashi's neck while trying to make Hashi's leg boot touch the back of his head, Ikeda desperately holding back Mashimo from making the save. Afterward the Ikeda/Ishikawa alliance melts pretty quickly, but ice sculptures aren't made to last, they're made to be enjoyed while they last.


FUJIWARA FAMILY LIST

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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

AEW Dynamite Workrate Report 9/23/20

What Worked

-Evil Uno/Hangman eeks onto the top side here just because I still like what Uno brings to AEW. Page has several cool bits of offense and then other things he should drop entirely. Things like his moonsault off the apron that rarely connects, offense like that just looks silly with his character. It's that Silas Young thing where he looks like James Gammon and is a real man, then goes out and wrestles like a bad Chris Sabin clone. Page needs to drop the flips and just focus on cool fallaway slams and big lariats, because those things work well within his character AND are moves that look good. I really liked the fallaway slam where he held a bridge, not an easy thing to do. Uno is someone in AEW who makes little things look good, but here he also gets to splat Page with a huge cannonball off the top. The match wasn't perfect, but Uno made Page's offense look good (Page makes stuff look good, but Uno helped with some things), so this landed up top.

-Uno was selling his head and neck around ringside during the Lee/Cassidy match and that rules.

-Cassidy/Brodie was a good use of bullshit that leaves the door open for Cassidy to get some kind of cage match revenge. I dug Lee knocking Cassidy's block off after the hands went in the pockets, but I am a fan of the hands in pockets spots. His dive that was caught by the Dark Order was a cool trick, and they managed to all impressively scatter at the right time to make it look like Cassidy actually got the worst of Lee's dive. Lee has a few too many goofy twists and turns to his offense still, but he's great at barreling into Cassidy with falling lariats and big boots, and I loved that grounded side headlock he worked during the commercial break (also hit a great elbowdrop during the break (shame some of his coolest stuff was during the break). Cassidy's comeback was good and I liked the way they worked in him dealing with the Dark Order (lots of fun work with him dodging interference in between hitting dives), dealing with them leading to him getting blown up. Run this back, throw them in a cage, give me a Cassidy pockets dive off the top of the cage.

-I like a good "look we WANT to fight you guys, but that wouldn't be fair to YOU because of how beat up you are" and FTR pulled off that attitude well.

-You know? Just keep matching up Thunder Rosa and Ivelisse every week. There have been plenty of AEW women's matches that are just actually bad, so it's way way way more interesting to just have two women in there who look and act like they genuinely hate each other. Having unprofessional looking exchanges is an upgrade over having bad looking rehearsed exchanges. There was plenty of stuff here that was out of sync (including a hilarious moment where Tony and JR are talking about how perfectly in sync Shida and Ivelisse were, as Ivelisse's timing was clearly off on two things in a row), but I'll take a couple out of sync moments if you give me some stiff punches and kicks. Every time Ivelisse and Rosa were in there together was noteworthy and the hate bled through the screen. Ivelisse mounted her and looked like she would have punched her right in the nose if Rosa didn't know how to cover up and buck her off, and it added a sick "what will happen next?" element to things. I dug Shida suplexing Ivelisse boots first into Diamante's face (with Rosa hitting slingshot knees after), and later Shida running across the ring to stop a hot tag by hitting a flying knee to Diamante on the apron. It didn't totally matter much as the finishing stretch fell apart a bit, but the falling apart was some of the best stuff here. Pure hate and actual emotion are things we don't get enough of in wrestling, so I celebrate this unprofessionalism and welcome it to my television.

22. Eddie Kingston vs. Jon Moxley

ER: It's cruel of AEW to make us wait two months for another Kings(ton) Road match in prime time, because of course King is going to deliver. I could watch Kingston sell chops all day, love watching him take a hit and see his muscle memory go to respond with a hit, only for the pain to hit mid throw. Gimme more of Kingston duck walking away holding his chest. You never get rote exchanges with King, the strikes are always mixed up and broken up with unexpected kicks. Kingston hits a lariat and  takes it to the floor, goes after Moxley's ear, yanks his waistband into an elbow to the back, dumps him into the timekeeper's table, and we get a nice tour of the AEW floor. King eats a vertical suplex and they both whip each other into the barricades. I love Kingston faces after he takes a suplex. We get too many idiotic facial reactions in wrestling, Kingston's reactions are the only ones that feel honest. These two kept it close and always punished lag, like Kingston headbutting Moxley off the top after Moxley left space between an elbow, or Moxley powering through a lariat after Kingston gloated a wee bit. We get some big moves, like Mox hitting a piledriver, or Kingston taking a big German suplex before dropping Mox with a backdrop, but there's never the feeling of moving from spot to spot. Kingston matches always feel like a strike battle broken up by occasional bigger moves, but everything is glued together with chops and headbutts and elbows. The sudden finish was awesome, with Moxley blocking a backfist and just pouncing on Kingston, dropping him to his knees with his weight while applying a sleeper that turns into a sick side headlock. Kingston is a man who knows how to make a side headlock look like a finish, turning purple and spitting, and Mox did his part by really hooking that chin. It's almost like Kingston needs to be wrestling on TV more.


PAS: All Japan Eddie Kingston isn't my favorite version of Eddie Kingston, although I love all versions. We are far enough removed from that era, that matches paying tribute to it don't seem as trite, and Kingston does that tribute stuff better than anyone. He understands that what made those matches great were timing and reaction and not just moves, and his reactions to getting hit were even cooler then the nastiness of the shots. Moxley had some cool little moments too, this wasn't just a Kingston showcase. I loved how he sold the downward elbows like he got a muscle cramp, and I really felt like he was excited to be working this kind of match and that excitement was contagious. I wish such a big chunk of this match wasn't in picture in picture, it's better then not getting it all, but they should time things better so your main event doesn't get chopped up. I thought the finish was really cool, no need for a bunch of near falls, that quick bulldog choke felt like an ending. Too bad it took COVID to slot Kingston in the main event where he belongs, but hopefully they realize he belongs there now, and a title rematch between these too - with a big build up - is the most exciting thing AEW could do right now.


What Didn't Work

-Opening tag was a real slog, not at all the kind of debut that made Miro looked like an asset. Miro looked fine in the match (although I couldn't stop laughing at JR fawning over his quads the whole time), but it went way too long, and it was easily the slowest paced match that Janela or Kiss have been involved with in AEW. Some nice individual moments (Kiss took a nice bump to the floor after Janela got shoved into him), but this whole thing felt sleepy.

-Jericho has made some pretty uninteresting on paper matches into interesting or even really good matches, but getting something good out of Private Party might be his greatest task. The promo didn't hit me, but I'll hold out hope.


2020 MOTY MASTER LIST


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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Tuesday is French Catch Day: Corn! Gueret! Delaporte! Villars! Said! Minisini!


Jacky Corne vs. Georges Gueret 7/9/59

MD: One thing I love about this footage in general is that it's almost never predictable. We get new wrestlers every few weeks or wrestlers that we've seen before in different settings. We only get a few looks at a lot of them so surprises come up all the time. That said, we pretty much know what we're getting with a Jacky Corn match by now. Crisp holds, throws, and escapes. Long sequences with hang-ons and attempts. The heel getting mean/frustrated first. Corn selling excellently in that sort of "full body" exhausted sort of way I always give Bockwinkel credit for. And then finally, as the match goes on, Corn coming back with righteous indignation and fury and it becoming an absolutely brutal slugfest. Corn wrestles beautifully and he fights valiantly and it's never unwelcome even if we've seen it before. Here, Gueret was sort of a bruising Larry Hennig sort (though in better shape), swarthy and expressive, especially when he was in a hold or begging off. He gets frustrated at the end of the first fall (including inadvertently hitting the ref) but Corn is able to capitalize with a sunset flip. Even though he beats on him a lot in the second fall, it's not until the start of the final fall that Corn really starts firing back. Just great striking here, including one exchange on their knees. Corn ultimately takes it with a very slip through the legs takedown and bridging pin. Of note here, from a format perspective, they had Roger Lageat, promoter and Corn's father, providing insights before the match and between falls.

SR: 2/3 falls match going about 30 minutes. It‘s George Gueret, baby. He had grown a beard here, which adds a bit of personality, I guess, and he was quite hated. This match had a surprising amount of wrestling that built really well to the 3rd fall where they just explode and beat the shit out of each other. The wrestling was really fun as you‘d expect, but you want these guys to throw down and uncork their forearms and uppercuts, and they knew exactly that this is what their audience wanted from them really. Really good slow build to the eventual explosion. Gueret only had to throw a few cheapshots before audience members threatened to jump into the ring. Corn is pretty bland but he can wrestle and throw down, and he earned his paycheck here. And Gueret just has about the greatest forearm smashes you‘ve ever seen.


PAS: Corn is a technically sound babyface and Gueret is a heat seeking bruiser, and that is classic professional wrestling contest. What makes so much of the Catch standout is how good the bruisers are at technical wrestling, and how nasty the technicians are at bruising. The early wrestling sections are solid stuff, I love a good headscissors, and they had a great headsicssors section, and then of course it breaks down with fans jumping on to the apron and big shots being exchanges. We say it over and over again, but the baseline of this stuff is so high.


Serge Francille vs Pierre Bernaert 7/16/59

MD: We get this JIP, but you definitely get the gist of it in the fifteen minutes we have. I don't remember Bernaert leaning as much into the Kirk Douglas look but he was still the same cheapshot artist as before, always reaching for a leg when he's on the ground and sneaking a punch or hairpull in. His punches, forearms, and knees were particularly mean. Francille was yet another judoka guy. I think that's the third we've seen in 59 so it was obviously some sort of zeitgeist. While barefoot, he had less goofy foot escapes and more throws and interesting trips. He was fiery in answering Bernaert's cheapshots at least. The match absolutely knew what it was and never deviated, down to the finish where Bernaert got a little lax in his beating, tried the same thing twice and got outslicked for his trouble.

SR: JIP, but we get about 13 minutes. Francille seems to be doing a martial artist gimmick and I think the announcer calls him a judoka. He is barefoot and wears those ankle-length pants, which weirdly seems to be the go-to look for wrestlers with a judo gimmick at this point. Did judokas wear those kind of pants in the 1950s? Francille has a mustache and slender physique and looks very old time. And he has those funny open hand chops. This was just going along, Bernaert cheats some and Francille retaliates. Then suddenly Bernaert starts unleashing a really violent beating only to be cut short and pinned seconds later.


Roger Delaporte/Paul Villars vs Arabet Said/Leon Minisini 7/16/59

MD: Another long Delaporte/Villars tag, though this one went closer to 30 than an hour. Delaporte remains one of the greatest stooges. Villars, on the other hand, is absolutely brutal, and when the heels were in control, this was excellent. They cut off the ring and kept most of the action right in their corner, even as the ref tried to stop them. When they won the second fall, it was really because of that sort of attrition over time, just hacking away at Minisini until he couldn't fight back. The first fall, by the way, was lightning quick with a flash pin out of a full nelson reversal and that happened in just the first couple of miniutes. What I liked about it is that it was against formula. I don't think we've seen first falls go like that much in the footage. There was also an early moment where Delaporte refused to throw a cheapshot on a Villars full nelson in the corner but the faces did instead and had some miscommunication because of it. That felt very lucha-esque where the tecnicos (stylists in this case) cheated when it was unwarranted and feaced cosmic justice because of it. It was our first look at Said and Minisini. Said had solid fire when it was called for but when in charge, he mainly did a lot of inner armdrags and crosslegged headscissor spots, the latter of which I've had my fill of recently. Minisini played a valiant face in peril, including fighting out of the corner early only to get overwhelmed later and had an interesting bridging escape or two. The crowd was up for this, like always for a Delaporte tag, though they were more into the comeback than the heat, I'd say, and so much of that was on Delaporte's stooging and Villars bumps to the floor. Another banana peel finish utilizing Delaporte's one smooth offensive maneuver and that made the crowd hate him all the more.

SR: 2/3 falls match going about 30 minutes. With names like Arabet Said and Leon Minissini, you get giddy just wondering what these mysterious dudes will bring. The answer was that they were both pretty wirey dudes who could both wrestle and put serious punishment on their opponents, so they match up very well against the mustached super heel duo of Delaporte and Villar. The interesting thing about this was the early finish to the 1st fall, which set up a kind of heel in peril section as Said & Minisini kept showing them up and the heels had to try and get a handle. Kind of a weird way to structure a match, and I kind of had the feeling it was since Delaporte & Villar were technically the stars, as the focus was on them. The 3rd fall cements this as Delaporte and Villar, after playing some of their shenanigans got banged up badly by pissed off Said and Minisini before a punch-drunk Delaporte got the pin with a pretty perfectly timed rollup. It was almost like a reverse Rock n‘Roll express finish. That being said, this isn‘t better or worse than any other Villars/Delaporte tag we‘ve seen, as they all kind of all blend together, but you always end up getting some fun wrestling and lots of guys putting big damn beatings on each other, so it‘s all good entertainment, anyways.


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Monday, September 21, 2020

NXT UK Worth Watching: The Start of a Complete Guide


Noam Dar vs. Pete Dunne NXT UK 7/28 (Aired 10/17/18) (Ep. #1)

ER: Strong title match to main event their first TV episode. Dar is someone I feel made a lot of improvements in the time between his 205 Live stint and the start of NXT UK. I disliked him on 205 but enjoy him more often than not in his post 205 work. He played underdog against Dunne here, leaning into all of Dunne's stiff elbow strikes and standing lariats (and one real monster of a running clothesline early in the match) while trying to catch Dunne whenever Dunne went too far. Dunne gets it in him to do too much offense sometimes (and go too over the top with finger breaks), so I loved when Dar took his knees out and tripped him during a rope run, and I loved even more when he kicked Dunne right in the shins when Dunne hopped to the middle turnbuckle. Dar's selling was smart, appropriately selling finger damage as it was happening, kicking Dunne in the head on the apron after the shock wore off then hitting a fisherman's buster; or, the excellent triangle spot where Dunne worked over Dar's fingers while in the triangle, and Dar had the presence of mind to put a stop to that by quickly holding down Dunne's shoulders for a pin, then rolling through to an ankle lock when Dunne was forced to kick out. Dar catching the kneebar was a good moment too, building to a suitably dramatic rope break. I wish Dunne was a bit more interesting about going back on offense (he tends to just stand up and go back to it), but his strikes play big and Dar was a great foil for his high end offense.


Wild Boar Mike Hitchman vs. Ligero NXT UK 7/29 (Aired 10/24/18) (Ep. #2)

ER: What a fun 5 minute sprint. I think this project is going to wind up with me putting more words about Wild Boar out on the internet than we currently have. He's a guy I liked enough to start this NXT UK project in the first place, and it's cool to say he was fully formed from his arrival on the Network. They work a fast flyer vs. wrecking ball match, which is fun to see from a 170 lb. tiny flier and a 5'6" wrecking ball. Boar is like an even MORE compact Taz, and he is a little wrecking ball. He's like Dick Togo working as Otis. Ligero is a guy who I think is better the more grounded he stays, as he has too good a clothesline to think he needs to do a bad standing moonsault. I recently watched a Taka Michinoku/Dick Togo Raw match of similar length, and this is a better version of that match. Ligero doesn't have the grace of Michinoku, not close, but Wild Boar hits him harder with strikes and flying offense than Togo hit Taka. Ligero hits a rana as smooth as any I've seen Taka throw, and Boar is a great base (he should be, he has an incredibly low center of gravity). Boar hits a super impactful spear in the corner, a great and unexpected pop up powerbomb, and looks like he just murders Ligero with a cannonball. It looked like his full closest-man-to-actual-size-and-impact-of-real-cannonball, and Ligero looked like he absorbed it all with his face. Ligero came off tougher to me for the rest of the match because he can clearly take a beating. If I wasn't viewing Boar as Togo enough, it should also be noted that Wild Boar has a very good standing senton, and he uses it here. The match has satisfying nearfalls, and Ligero makes the finish violent enough to work, kicking out Boar's leg with a hard mule kick to the knee, then running him up the ropes with one of the best tornado DDTs I've seen.


COMPLETE GUIDE TO NXT UK


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The Complete Guide to NXT UK




NXT UK is back after a hiatus that feels like it *probably* should have happened even without a pandemic. I didn't watch a single NXT UK match until Ohno/Gallagher happened (7 months into the program's existence). In cherry picking appearances from some of my favorite US guys this year and last, I came to actually enjoy a lot of the NXT UK roster that I watched. I think their roster since inception (July 2018) is stronger than NXT's roster over the same time, and I figure there are some hidden gems on this brand (that I didn't start semi-frequently watching until late last year). It's an underwatched program - WWE fans don't want it, British wrestling fans don't seem to like it - and there hasn't been a ton of actual discussion on the matches, so I thought it would be fun to skim through the fed's output and establish a list of the BEST NXT UK matches. I also plan on doing Top 50 Wrestlers lists every 25 episodes, while also keeping an ongoing Overall Top 50 or 100.

Recommended Matches: 

Noam Dar vs. Pete Dunne NXT UK 7/28 (Aired 10/17/18) (Ep. #1)
Wild Boar Mike Hitchman vs. Ligero NXT UK 7/29 (Aired 10/24/18) (Ep. #2)
Noam Dar vs. Zack Gibson NXT UK 7/28 (Aired 10/31/18) (Ep. #3)
Ligero vs. James Drake NXT UK 7/29 (Aired 11/7/18) (Ep. #5)



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Sunday, September 20, 2020

Pandemic Era IWTV Cherry Picking

I have really been slacking on watching new wrestling since COVID, but there has been some cool looking matchups on IWTV so I figured I would cherry pick a couple

Matthew Justice/Manders/Mance Warner vs. Chris Dickinson/Nick Gage/Tony Deppen Beyond Wrestling 7/27/20


PAS: Really great looking on paper match, which got really derailed by Gage blowing out his knee or ankle. There were some fun Dickinson vs. Manders exchanges (I need to track down their singles match), but Gage gets hurt, and there is an awkward heat segment on him where he clearly can't stand. The finish run had a ton of steam taken out of it because of that. Bummer that it didn't live up to its potential, but perfectly understandable.

Violence is Forever (Dominic Garrini/Kevin Ku) vs. Rip City Shooters (Joshua Bishop/Wes Barkley) BLP 8/24/20

PAS: These are a pair of teams I have a fair amount of time for, but this felt pretty minor. Weirdly they barely match up Bishop and Dom at all, which you would figure they would focus on. They had one of the greatest indy grudge matches of the decade a year ago, and their isn't any sense that they even know each other. When Piper and Valentine matched up at the Royal Rumble they tried to kill each other even though their feud was in a fed that the WWF didn't acknowledge. I did really like Bishop in this. He has some huge power moves, and has gotten really good at wrestling big. I especially loved him just chucking Ku into the air with a side suplex throw. Ku and Dom have some fun double teams that are always really violent looking, but the presentation of this show is really bad. The ring announcer is wearing basketball shorts, the woman doing commentary spends the entire match trying out her wacky podcast comedy, I mean...if you want me to think your show is important, treat it like it is important. Treat it like a joke, I am not going care.


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Saturday, September 19, 2020

2020 Ongoing MOTY List: AEW Parking Lot Brawl

Santana/Ortiz vs. Trent/Chuck Taylor AEW Dynamite 9/16

ER: I did not care about the Best Friends/LAX build, hate Chuck Taylor feuds, wouldn't have ever guessed it could go somewhere interesting. And then they go out and have an insanely violent Zona 23 style parking lot brawl. What? This had some spills in it (a LOT, really) that were as nasty or nastier than anything in the Finlay/Regal parking lot brawl. Am I stupid for saying a match with Chuck Taylor had tons of comparably violent moments to two a famously violent match featuring two of my 20 favorite wrestlers of all time? Possibly, but I loved the damage these four took. This match had some of the most gruesome vehicle-based spots I've seen. By the end of this everyone was bleeding out of places that don't typically bleed in a wrestling match. Ortiz got jammed under the hood of a car and crushed in painful ways by Taylor and Trent, Trent hitting a senton while Ortiz's leg was still hanging out. Trent got powerbombed into the windshield of a truck, and while the announcers were focusing on his cut up back from the glass I couldn't stop seeing the back of his head getting whipped into the top frame. Sure, that bloody back is gonna mess up the upholstery of his mom's minivan, but that check to the back of the head is gonna mess up his cognitive functions in his 60s. Trent also got slingshotted straight into a down truck tailgate, so he was really trying to be an equal opportunity brainpan destroyer. The board shots all looked nasty (especially Ortiz cracking Trent in the back and then blasting him in the ribs). Powerbombs on truck tops, backdrops on cars, spears into a car grill, and a piledriver off a truck tool box? Yeah, shoot that in my veins. There is a Chuck Taylor match on one of our MOTY Lists.


PAS: This was inexplicably great. I mean Santana and Ortiz are from the JAPW family tree so it shouldn't be shocking that they can be in an awesome parking lot brawl like this, but I have no time for Chuck Taylor and Chuck Taylor associated things, but I have to give the devils their due. Santana and Ortiz were incredibly in this, the whole build for this feud was winking horseshit about Mom's and Mini Vans, but Santana and Ortiz came into this like a pair of serial killers, and forced Trent and Taylor to fight for their lives. There was a couple of moments where the Best Friends tried some indy wrestling shit (Chuck Taylor started throwing bad forearms, Trent tries for a spinning counter DDT) but for 95% of this we were fighting. The big bumps were big and all of the smaller things also looked great. Trent gets totally demolished, that windshield bump was some Miedo Extremo shit, and who thought he had that in him. Didn't need Orange Cassidy, and would have rather seen a straight up finish, but dang this was something.


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Friday, September 18, 2020

New Footage Friday: CMLL Handheld 11/25/95

Migra I/Migra II vs. Mexican Blanco/Súper Diablo (Erin O'Grady/Spike Dudley)

MD: I almost skipped this but I'm glad I didn't. It was a very fun opener. Blanco and Diablo were pretty creative and the Migras were solid bullies who weren't afraid to give and stooge. Very emotive and into what was happening. This followed southern tag structure more than you'd expect and the Migras looked like a million bucks in the heat. There were some wild and effective but very unfortunate acrobatics (the sort that land you on your own head) by the babyfaces but ultimately this was all pretty satisfying stuff for an opener.


PAS: I am guessing this was an all APW match. Diablo was listed on the file as Erin O'Grady (Crash Holly) and I am guessing Blanco was Matt Hyson (Spike Dudley). I assume La Migra was a pair of APW guys too (maybe Mike Modest and Maxx Justice). These guys all worked really well together, with Holly and Spike bumping like you would expect those guys to do, flying super high on monkey flips and eating shit on clotheslines. There were a bunch of dives which looked totally reckless in an awesome way, lots of flips which looked seconds away from killing both the guy who took it and the guy who dove. I really liked the German suplex which finished the match, fun stuff from some green guys who would go on to do things.

ER: Phil is right, this is definitely Modest and Justice as La Migra, a gimmick that has somehow sustained itself in northern and southern California indies. Modest and Justice were the first ones doing the gimmick, and after they stopped using it someone else would use it. even Brian Cage was a member of La Migra at one point in the 2010s. I'm not 100% certain that Matt Hyson is the non Erin O'Grady here, but my only other guess would be Chris Cole (I don't think Hyson ever had the muscle the non O'Grady had, and the offense didn't seem like Hyson's from this era). And this match is really great. This ranks among the best APW stuff I've seen, and I've seen more of it than most. Modest was so polished just a few years in, he really was a natural. But Maxx Justice/Mike Diamond also should have gone places and did bigger things. He was a legitimately intimidating dude with a great angry face, tall, with a big upper body (his day job was throwing luggage around for an airline, which feels like a great workingman's job that a 60s/70s regional babyface like The Crusher would have). But he takes moves really well from flyers. He caught dives and saved a huge rana from the top rope to the floor, and had this great base moment where he cut extremely low on a lariat before catching O'Grady. O'Grady had some crazy stuff, a guy who really did deserve to make it. He gets alleyooped into a dragon rana, hits a great tope, tope con hilo, that rana to the floor, all really big stuff for this era, and he also took two big bumps off the apron skidding across the floor. Hyson/Cole/whomever had some wild stuff too, great somersault senton off the apron and from the middle buckle to the floor, and hits a nice tandem dive with O'Grady. La Migra actually felt like a dangerous gimmick to be working in Los Angeles, feels like a thing that could have got Modest jumped. This match really showed the level of talent in mid 90s bay area indies,  incredible to get talents like this all at once, when you looked at what other American indies looked like in 95/96.


Los Brazos vs. Apolo Dantés/Pirata Morgan/Satánico

MD: This was just the second match on the card. The fans were familiar here and knew what they wanted and what they were getting, which was heaping amounts of Porky. The Primera had a bit of feeling out and one rudo swarm tease (the Brazos rushed in) before the rudos went cheap on a handshake and took over for real with triple teams. The segunda was a long bit of FIP heat, cutting off the ring, before the Brazos had enough and rushed forth. I'm not sure I'd have been as okay with that with normal tecnicos (as it defies logic more than having a thematic beatdown on one wrestler after another) but there's such a chaotic element to the Brazos that it worked. Most of the match was in the tercera, with Oro fighting off everyone and Porky doing a lot of comedy before they launched the dives. Satanico hit a nestea plunge off the apron on the far side of the ring which I don't think I've ever seen him do and somehow adds to his legend. They were chanting for Porky to dive well before it was his turn. The finish was fun as it was one of those everyone gets pinned out of a multi-man submission spots that never actually works and did here. I always appreciate that. The fans appreciated all of this and money was tossed in post match. There was literally no way this was going to be bad given who was in there.

PAS: Brazos are maybe the greatest formula wrestlers of all time. Nothing is more enjoyable then watching them do their match, you don't need any extra juice, the rudos really just have to show up. This match however had two first ballot hall of fame rudos and Dantes who was a king in the 90s. So not only to we get awesome Brazos stuff, but there is so true class to play off of. Satanico is a great Super Porky opponent, very comfortable with playing along, but also willing to get really nasty when it is desired. That Cactus elbow off of the apron was a true Holy Shit moment. We get some big time Pirata bumps too, and Dantes hits a great looking Superfly splash. Porky is of course a joy, he was at both peak fat and near peak agility at this point, and he hits his top rope dive so hard he nearly bounces out of the ring, he also reverses a double wrist lock by springboarding off the top rope into a flip, mind bending stuff from a guy who looks like Homer in the Simpson episode he got Obese to get on disability.


Silver King/Vampiro vs. The Headhunters

MD: This cuts off midway through the segunda, so all we really get is a mauling by the Head Hunters. Really, though, that's all we needed. They were tremendously effective at what they did. Not much more to say here except for that the crowd really wanted to get behind the tecnicos and that Silver King was one of the top guys in the world at working the apron and milking a moment at this point.

Atlantis/Héctor Garza/Pantera vs. Eddy Guerrero/Emilio Charles Jr/Felino

MD: I really liked this. Captains are Atlantis and Charles, and they set the tone immediately by having Charles get a cheapshot in on Atlantis during the announcements. After a brief exchange early where Atlantis gets the advantage, he dodges him for much of the rest of the match (though runs all the way around the ring into a quebradora as the tecnicos take the primera). The other main pairings are Felino and Pantera which works out quite well and Eddy and Garza which starts off a bit slow but on the second and third time through gets great. Late Garza is one of my favorite wrestlers period, so sometimes I don't give Early Garza enough credit, probably, but the point of comparison is always Eddy. I have no idea why the latter is here as he'd been working WCW for a few months now, but I'm not complaining. Once he really unleashes the rudo fury on him (after Felino sneaks in a foul on Pantera to turn the tide in the segunda), the beating is primal. Guerrero refuses to pin him after a nasty, wild powerbomb and then superplexes him and has Felino hold him down for the frog splash. Between falls, he slaps him and hits the brainbuster and locks in a STF for good measure. The comeback is a little all over the place, with Atlantis fighting to get his mask back on and just whipping Charles (who cries foul) around the ring, but Garza sliding all the way from one side of the screen, through the ring, to the other to get revenge on Eddy is great stuff. I could have used another minute or two of comeback, but Pantera gets to creatively upstage Felino, Atlantis gets the decisive win with the Atlantida on Charles, and post match, Eddy perfectly catches Garza on his signature dive. Post match, after the other rudos had left, Eddy wants a shake and Hector gives him one and it felt a little like a passing of the torch even if the real points of comparison would come years later. Always something to see here and it was always something worth seeing.


Mascara Ano Dos Mil vs. Rayo de Jalisco Jr.

MD: Phil's already covered the Casas vs Santo match elsewhere, so this is our de facto main event. Lucky us. Look, it's been a while since I've willingly watched a Rayo match, especially a singles match, but the flip side of that is that it's been so long that maybe I'd be happily surprised? I love how if you go to the official ELP youtube page and find "Touch and Go" almost all of the first comments are in Spanish and about the Dinamitas. This is, obviously, a completely bullshit title match. Instead of matwork in the primera, there's lots of competent Mascara Ano stalling and a bunch of dancing foolishness by Rayo. There are basically two holds, one to stooge Mascara so he can go out and stall again, and one to finish it. The segunda is even less substantial, just a couple quebradoras, a couple of whips, and a missed top rope move by Rayo. My favorite spot in all of this was probably Rayo hitting two bouncing grounding headbutts and then comedically missing the third. My other favorite bit was him accidentally diving on the wrong person twice. We didn't even get Mascara punching him a bunch. This was not good lucha and I was not happily surprised.


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The Fujiwara Family: Complete and Accurate PWFG, BattlArts and FUTEN

The best of all wrestling, here are all our full show reviews in one place.


2011

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Thursday, September 17, 2020

I'm on the Trigger Plus I Got the FUTEN Sword: FUTEN 7/18/11


I am cataloging all of the BattlArts and FUTEN shows we have reviewed, and realized this was out there but somehow unreviewed.

Katsumi Usuda vs. Kotaru Nasu

PAS: Nasu was a Style-E guy and a perfectly solid unspectacular opponent for Usuda. Usuda provides most of the highlights here, unsurprisingly, popping Nasu right in the temple with a high kick, doing a great looking Fujiwara double leg twist counter into a kneebar and an incredible leg trip into a Fujiwara for the tap. Nasu did have a couple of nice near falls on knockdowns and a cross arm breaker, but this was a fun Usuda show. He is really a guy who can deliver against almost anyone.

ER: I thought Nasu was the perfect kind of opponent for Usuda, the kind of lower ranked guy that Usuda is great at almost losing to. For his end, Nasu kicked the hell out of Usuda and looked like he came real close to tapping him, and if a guy throws hard kicks and can lock in a sub that looks like it can get a tap, Usuda can take that guy to his career zenith. Usuda comes into the match with his expected bored expression, totally underestimating Nasu, and after a couple of minutes he appears correct in his underestimation. Usuda is really special, and I love how his selling in this match was based entirely on facials and not, you know, selling a limb. His face starts off in his classic resting sleepy expression, and within 7 minutes it's total panic. Nasu kept doing more damage with each set of kicks, and looks like he was a few newtons away from stinging Usuda on a kick to the spine. His subs keep coming closer and closer to tapping Usuda, and Usuda's grasps for the ropes start looking more and more desperate, and we get a great shot of his eyes darting to every single rope in the ring. When he makes an escape he didn't think he'd made, he realizes that the time for fucking around is over. He wastes Nasu with a kick as Nasu charged into the corner, and I love in fights when a guy *almost* getting a tap causes him to throw strategy out the window. He came so close to that win that he's now too focused on finishing and the blinders leave him wide open. The finish was so sick, Usuda sweeping Nasu's left leg from his back to trip him to the mat, expertly swinging his leg over to shift his weight and grab the arm, then wrenching that arm into the ugliest Fujiwara. It's one of those submission finishes where the guy who gets tapped knows he's in the quicksand the second he steps into it, knows his only option is lose quick or lose slightly less quick. Usuda!


Ryuji Hijikata vs. Bison TAGAI

PAS: This was Tagai representing BattlArts taking on Hijikata who was repping FUTEN, and he repped the hell out of FUTEN, landing a nasty cheap shot headbutt, and some sick punches to the ear. Tagai would fight back with some takedowns and grappling, but he was in over his head. Hijikata hit a couple of great looking sole butt kicks to the stomach, including turning his back after it landed like Steph Curry, before he made Tagai's knee touch his ear for the tap.

ER: Hijikata is a beast. He was taking harsh beatings in BattlArts when Bison was a teen. This guy was toughened up a decade before Bison got started, and even if I don't remember Hijikata winning matches in the late 90s Batt I loved, being a regular there in that area is a lasting badge of toughness. Early in this match there is a moment that would go on an all time best Futen video. Both men are reaching for a knucklelock and TAGAI punches Hijikata straight in the face. Hijikata is rattled and backed up, but quickly comes to and decides TAGAI needed to be taught a rest of match lesson. He backs TAGAI up, headbutts him right in the eye, then throws a right hook to his ear that sends TAGAI to the mat. From there it's just Hijikata stalking and beating TAGAI while TAGAI backs into him and has an I Fucked Up look on his face for much of the rest of the match. He fires back with some slaps but Hijikata is letting him do it, and he's walking through those strikes like all the old 90s BattlArts guys walk through strikes. Those mule kicks hit like two mules, and the finishing submission was disgusting. Hijikata hyperextend's TAGAI's knee up past his head and rides it like one of those guys on Furiosa's metronomes in Fury Road.


Kengo Mashimo vs. SEIKEN

PAS: These are a pair of big boys and stuff was landing hard. SEIKEN rushes Mashimo early and sends him to the floor. Oba is on the sideline and he gives him a talking to, and Mashimo comes in and bulldozes him with hard kicks and punches. Once Oba hyped him up he was a wrecking ball and took SEIKEN out.


ER: Akitoshi Saito feels like a guy who should have made at least a couple Futen appearances and never did. But Mashimo wrestles exactly the way a Futen Saito would wrestle, and it's great. SEIKEN is new to me and he rushes Mashimo to start, blowing him up with quick knees, kicks, and open hands. Once Mashimo gets his pep talk, it's a slow drowning for SEIKEN. Mashimo shows him how actually ineffective his kicks are, and awesomely blocks a spinning heel kick right out of the air with his forearms. Mashimo absorbs strikes, takes slaps as if his face was merely hit merely by a cool breeze, takes kicks to the chest like he's getting a massage, and we get a great moment where SEIKEN nails a spinning heel kick right to Mashimo's chin that sends Mashimo staggering around the ring. From there, Mashimo shows SEIKEN what a leg kick is supposed to look like, absolutely chopping down that tree, dumps him with some very hard back suplexes and Germans, and from there it's a race to see what head kick is going to be the one that makes SEIKEN stay down instead of stand up at 9. 


Mitsuya Nagai vs. Takeshi Ono

PAS: This is a cool scrap which was worked like a speed versus power boxing match. Every shot Nagai threw and every submission he put on had a ton of force. He cut Ono in half with kicks and nearly tore off his limbs. Ono would respond with activity, none of his shots thudded like the much bigger Nagai, but he peppered him with quick punches and kicks, and spun into fast submissions. He even ends up blooding Nagai's ear with fast right hands before falling to a nasty submission which saw Nagai twisting him into taffy. Really cool fight, Ono is an all-time great and any chance to see him is a treasure.


Daisuke Ikeda/Manabu Suruga vs. Yuki Ishikawa/Munenori Sawa

PAS: FUTEN tags are on a short list of the greatest things ever produced by wrestling. This wasn't a top tier FUTEN tag, but even mid-tier FUTEN tags are top tier in a list of all other things. The structure of a FUTEN tag is lots of back and forth violence with all four guys leading to a one on one battle between two wrestlers until one wrestler is demolished. The one on one battle at the end of this match was Sawa versus Suruga which is the least of the possible face offs, both those guys are fine, and the end run was cool, but you really don't want Ishikawa and Ikeda to be on the bench in the fourth quarter. The Ikeda versus Ishikawa stuff here was more of a teaser, but damn it was appropriate, Ishikawa threw a punch to Ikeda's head which sounded like a two by four hitting a pumpkin. Ikeda kicked him right between the top of the jaw and the end of the ear, it was as great and as lamentable as it always is. I always enjoy Sawa's handspeed and I liked how he tried to use that speed against the heavier hitting of Suruga and Ikeda. I wanted a nastier KO then I got, but I still just enjoyed the hell out of watching every second of this.


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Wednesday, September 16, 2020

AEW Dynamite Workrate Report 9/16/20

What Worked

-FTR get the tag match up here, but Luchasaurus kept trying to drag it down. Luchasaurus is at his best when he's working as first year Test, and he is near unbearable when he is Test working as a Young Buck. Luckily, he worked more Test than Buck (the one stretch with him as an Cretaceous Buck was as bad as ever), and weirdly enough Jungle Boy is way better when he doesn't do as many moves. Jungle Boy is someone who actually does some small things well (I am a big fan of his dropdown) but I don't really love his highspots. Well, here he worked down as well and I think the match benefitted from that. It also benefitted from Cash Wheeler bumping hard (the Psicosis bump was awesome) and that sneaky pinfall win was legitimately the most they felt like the Brain Busters since joining AEW.

-What a great little Frankie Kazarian performance. That has to be the best Frankie Kazarian match since....well, I can't remember the last time I talked about a great Frankie Kazarian performance. The match went longer than it needed, but Kazarian working his age is a good thing, as Page was the one here who was working much more silly offense. Kazarian not only made some of Page's more suspect offense look great (Page usually has a weak pescado, here Kazarian made it look lung deflating), leaned all the way into clotheslines, always in the right place at the right time. What I liked most about Kazarian, and what felt most age appropriate about his offense was all of the right hands he threw. Kazarian isn't a guy I think of as a "puncher", and I'm not sure I've seen a match where he threw more. I like his right hand. He's got good form and it's a genuinely nice worked punch, and I liked the way he used it to cut off Page throughout the match. He tightened up elbow strikes too, and used that to nicely cut off Page as well. I hate the stuff like "run down the length of the apron just to get clotheslined without even trying to do offense, just running down the apron" or "I hit you and run but you run after me and hit me but then I run after you and hit you" and the match did have that bullshit. But it also had Kazarian blocking a bulldog by snapping off a Russian legsweep variation, and the Kazarian performance elevated this to a level I wasn't expecting. Good match.

-Kingston on the mic, gonna be up here. "Check the rules."

-I really liked Hager in that tag. Not sure what's happening tonight, but I didn't have Kazarian or Hager on my list of guys I was looking forward to seeing. Hager bumped super generously for Private Party without making it look ridiculous, and all his close range work looked great. I dug Kassidy ragdolling for the Judas Effect, and Jericho punching Quen across the temples, but Hager was the real standout for me here. He had an actual cool reckless shooter vibe that I think he's tried before but never quite nailed. The dives looked good, they got out of there at the right time, fun quick match.

-Thunder Rosa/Ivelisse was pretty messy, but I liked the layout and the messiness looked like it lead to more stiff strikes than we might have otherwise gotten. Hitting sloppy ranas and mirror sequences where someone is one beat off? That kind of thing sucks, but I laughed when Ivelisse cracked Rosa with a slap, and laughed again when Rosa stopped Ivelisse dead in her tracks by burying a hard dropkick in her stomach. Ivelisse worked a nice sleeper choke (sadly marginalized into picture in picture) and if the execution where stronger throughout this would have been quite good. I bet they could run back this same match and some sequences would come out tighter. Even with the flaws, it stood above most other AEW women's matches so far.

-I did not care about the Best Friends/LAX build, hate Chuck Taylor feuds, wouldn't have ever guessed it could go somewhere interesting. And then they go out and have an insanely violent Zona 23 style parking lot brawl. What? This had some spills in it (a LOT, really) that were as nasty or nastier than anything in the Finlay/Regal parking lot brawl. Am I stupid for saying a match with Chuck Taylor had tons of comparably violent moments to two a famously violent match featuring two of my 20 favorite wrestlers of all time? Possibly, but I loved the damage these four took. This match had some of the most gruesome vehicle-based spots I've seen. By the end of this everyone was bleeding out of places that don't typically bleed in a wrestling match. Ortiz got jammed under the hood of a car and crushed in painful ways by Taylor and Trent, Trent hitting a senton while Ortiz's leg was still hanging out. Trent got powerbombed into the windshield of a truck, and while the announcers were focusing on his cut up back from the glass I couldn't stop seeing the back of his head getting whipped into the top frame. Sure, that bloody back is gonna mess up the upholstery of his mom's minivan, but that check to the back of the head is gonna mess up his cognitive functions in his 60s. Trent also got slingshotted straight into a down truck tailgate, so he was really trying to be an equal opportunity brainpan destroyer. The board shots all looked nasty (especially Ortiz cracking Trent in the back and then blasting him in the ribs). Powerbombs on truck tops, backdrops on cars, spears into a car grill, and a piledriver off a truck tool box? Yeah, shoot that in my veins.


What Didn't Work

-MJF should get that mark on his neck checked out. I have an irregular shaped mark on my chest and getting it checked out was a real weight off my mind. Someone needs to be monitoring that mark and make sure it's not growing. Can we get some 2018 MJF photos where he's facing to his right?


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Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Tuesday is French Catch Day: McTiffin! Guettier! Mountourcy! Gastel! Mantopoulos! Ricetti!


Marcel Parmentier vs. Bob Plantain 6/19/59

MD: As always it's a travesty we don't have more Parmentier footage. He was such a nasty striker with a surly face and tons of heat. This is just a minute or two. No one in the footage is quite as big a tease.

James McTiffin vs. Roger Guettier 6/19/59

MD: McTiffin is Gwyn Davies, of the great Veidor match. He was working an affable Scottish giant gimmick here, kilt and bagpiper, and maybe didn't have quite all the pieces together yet. Guettier was mean and frustrated, full of high class comedy as he couldn't deal with McTiffin's size advantage. My favorite bit was a pumphandle armbar where he couldn't get any leverage and just gave up, but there was more. This went pretty short for 50s Catch, just around ten minutes, seeming to surprise everyone. Remember the first time you saw George Steele's flying hammerlock and how painful it looked? That was the finish here which was a flying double inverted knucklelock, which would only work given a size differential like this.


PAS: This was fun stuff, much more of a wacky comedy match then serious Catch. Guettier was flummoxed by the size of McTiffin, and had a bunch of different ways to seem flummoxed. That finishing flying knucklelock was awesome looking and totally redeemed McTiffin from otherwise seeming a bit stiff. Babatunde should steal that shit.


Sergio Reggiori vs Jacques Bernieres 6/19/59

MD: This was the TV time remaining bonus match after McTiffin made short work of Guettier and while it's cut off as they had to give the feed back to the station, what we get is actually very good. I get the sense that these two knew that this was their big chance to shine in front of a television audience and they really went at it hard. This included a few extended hanging-on-to-a-hold sequences, a lot of struggle, some aggressive shots, and at least one dive through the ropes on a missed charge. Unfortunately, I don't know if it did either of these guys any good because we don't see them a ton in the footage.


Claude Montourcy vs. Robert Gastel 6/26/59

MD: We'd seen Montourcy before, both in the Mann match, which was really mostly about Mann, and in the 60 minute match where he had a lot of interesting showcase moves. Here, though, it was all about him, working a judo gimmick with taped up feet instead of shoes. Gastel was the straight man here, throwing his headbutts and big bumps, and hairpulls, and yes, the tombstone. This was about Montourcy using his feet in odd ways (especially to escape) and having big takedowns and contorted stretches, including the one that kayfabe popped Gastel's shoulder out to end it, causing Montourcy's Japanese Professor (?) to come out to fix it. Also of not here was a wrestler at ringside, which, along with an overly exuberant fan, subtly distracted Gastel post-tombstone, which theoretically gave Montourcy time to come back. This was another short one like the week before.


Vasilios Mantopoulos vs. Roberto Ricetti 6/26/59

MD: Yet another high end lightweight match in the late 50s style, where they don't quite go as over the top with acrobatics as we'd see a few years later, but instead did a lot of what we've seen already faster and with more impact. Lots of long holds with reversals jammed (even the ones that might work elsewhere). Ricetti had some really great bridges. We had, I think, our first giant swing too. There were a couple of moments where they were almost going too hard to make things work (and I'm tempted to pin that more on Mantopolous, as great as he'd be later and as good as he still was here, but that may not be fair), but it didn't necessarily feel unnatural, just less smooth than it might have been. They were competing so hard that it didn't hurt the match at all. The finish was really strong, a perfect reversal to the idea of someone going to the well too many times.

SR: 1 fall match that goes a bit over 30 minutes. Mantopoulos is billed as Greek. We are going to see quite a bit of him. Ricetti is billed as Italian and this is about the only time he shows up. This was a clean match, no heel shenanigans, but the crowd was calling for them to throw European uppercuts, so both guys soon did that. They stuck to mostly basic holds, peppered with that French brand of athletic escape attempts. Mantopoulos wasn‘t as flamboyant and flashy as in later clips, but you could tell he was a wrestling machine. Ricetti looked good also, aside from seemingly not knowing how to bump for Mantopoulos headscissors. This was going solid and they worked in some surprisingly hot nearfalls, including an awesome O‘Connor Roll and some plausible rope running exchanges later. Great finish, too. The thing that stands about these guys running the ropes and hitting improbable moves is not the athleticism, but the great sense of timing.


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Monday, September 14, 2020

2018 Ongoing MOTY List: 205 Live Street Fight

52. Drew Gulak/Jack Gallagher vs. Akira Tozawa/Brian Kendrick 205 Live 12/18 (Aired 12/19/18)

PAS: No idea why it took us early two years to watch this match, these are the four best 205 Live guys, and they get a long time to work a street fight.  Gulak and Gallagher look awesome coming in with their fists taped wearing suits. It takes a bit to get going, the first couple of minutes have a lot of WWE street fight spots with brooms and garbage cans, but as soon as Gulak breaks out the bungee cords it gets really great. Gulak fishooks Kendrick with the bungee cord hook which is super nasty looking, and we get a really great finish run with a bunch of cool near falls and big spots. Tozawa ends up hitting his awesome tope right into a garbage can, Gallagher locks in some cool submissions and he ends up leaving himself open to getting smashed. I really dug the battle on the top rope between Gallagher and Kendrick, a lot of times punches on the top rope look bad, but they were really cracking each other including Gallagher punching Kendrick right in the back of the head.

ER: 205 Live loved having good (or bad, I guess) 18 minute matches that could have been fire 10 minute matches. They also never quite mastered blowoff matches or big stipulation matches. Even though this would have been tighter with a shorter runtime, this is one of the best stips matches in the brand's history. It's easier to have a good long match when you send the best 4 in the division (at the time) out there and let them fill the time. Part of the long match era felt like one of those weird WWE self-serving deals where they let guys they don't care about go out and hang themselves, and crowds weren't typically too jazzed to sit through PPV main event length cruiser matches with minimal story build. The better ones found ways to get the crowd into it, and this crowd wakes up about midway and stays with it. I appreciated them starting with hard fists and cranked necks, but we're 20 years removed from ECW and I don't need Singapore cane shots to trash cans. Gulak uses the old Mick Foley trick of clonking Tozawa a few times with a live mic, and the crowds get involved just from the perfectly silly mic shots (makes you wonder why any guys go through the trouble of bumping hard on the apron and floor and taking stiff punches to the head).

We do get a mix of violence added to the sillier spots, like Kendrick suplexing Gallagher into an announcer's chair that Gulak was already seated in, or Gallagher in that same chair getting rolled into a hard Tozawa dropkick. I loved Tozawa working in his big spots on partner saves, crushing Gallagher with his senton to break up an Indian deathlock, or spinning around Gallagher with an octopus hold to get him away from Kendrick. He also gets a great reaction hitting his surprise right hand on Drew and later hitting an insane tope into a trashcan (swung by Drew). Kendrick is really great staggering around ringside taking punches, and Gulak fishhooking Kendrick with a bungee cord hook was one of the greatest things I've seen during a WWE (or anywhere, really) street fight. Gulak really looked like he was tearing at Kendrick's face (strong selling from Kendrick too) and I loved how Tozawa broke it up by jamming his hand into Gulak's mouth to let him know how a fishhook feels. This kind of bummed me out when it was over, as 2 years later we have Gulak mostly doing commentary, Kendrick disappearing for months at a time, Tozawa being a ninja who rarely wrestles, and Gallagher the only sex pest who they didn't attempt to make excuses for. Shit has changed in two years, shit has changed in two months.


2018 MOTY MASTER LIST


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