Segunda Caida

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

Friday, July 03, 2020

New Footage Friday: Brazos 25th Anniversary

Escorpion Dorado Jr./Corazon De Dragon vs. Super Halcon Jr./Bestial

MD: It's been a while since I've seen undercard lucha, especially undercard indy lucha from 2001. Not a ton to say here. One-fall opening match. They didn't do anything big and most of what registered was carried by Bestial and Halcon's rudo antics. The crowd was into it, but more into booing them than cheering the tecnicos. Some things looked good. Some things looked sluggish. The only build to the finish was Halcon launching a cheapshot after a handshake and as a match, it probably could have used a bit more of a beatdown after that.

Super Nono/Super Kepler vs. Enrique Vertiz/El Cazador

MD: Ñoño had a big kid gimmick. He was definitely young but maybe not as young as luchawiki would have us believe (though hey, maybe). I thought he had the act down pretty well and the kids were into it to the point where they were chanting for him and not against the rudos. Cazador was a bit more into the match than Vertiz who was mostly bemused by everything (completely no-selling an outside-the-ring wedgie for instance). Kepler did not look smooth including some of the weirder stilted armdrags you'll see. If you had gotten the rudos from the first match and let them work with Ñoño, you might have had something here.

Pirata Morgan Jr. vs. Dash

MD: This was the first of a bunch of Luchas 2000 vs XLAW matches. Anyway, the first two minutes were pretty good. Morgan hit a Dropkick followed by a tope right to start and then had a string of fairly nice looking offense (press up facebuster, somersault senton, etc.). It got rougher after that. Dash looked like he was wrestling underwater and just seemed to lack the strength to get Morgan up at times (which could have been on Morgan too, I guess, though he showed plenty of effort elsewhere, like his flip bump on a clothesline). They were definitely not on the same page with some of the spots and holds. The run-in at the end was at least high energy.

Brazo De Platino/Super Brazo vs. El Pietir/Dolar

MD: Pretty satisfying mauling at times. Brazos were full on rudo but beloved, to the point that when they try to take a powder up the stairs, the fans inspire them to come back. Some perfectly fine 405 Live stuff combined with handshake goofing. Platino's clap slaps/punches were fun but would probably get old quick. Dolar had a presence and really ran into the corner on one whip late in the match. Perfectly acceptable fat indy guy. Platino and Super Brazo could do this stuff in their sleep but it's still a good, charismatic act.

MD: There was a bit with Gringo Loco and some young luchador where they did a lot in a short period of time and Gringo got clowned which was effective but not really much to write about. It felt like if they'd done a big indy show in 1998 Calgary and gave Teddy Hart a showcase or something.

El Brazo Jr./Brazo De Oro Jr./Brazo De Plata Jr. vs. Crazy Boy/Mike Segura/Genesis

MD: Totally different vibe to the show once we hit this point. The entrances are more elaborate. There's more of a buzz. The Brazos are out with football gear and ski masks to start, with weapons to bear. The XLaw guys cut a promo and then the violence begins. Amusingly, they cut away from a lawn dart iconoclasm onto a chair in the middle of the ring to focus on some floor brawling. That set the tone pretty well. They kept things moving here with a lot of creative weapon usage that didn't have overly elaborate set ups (except for the chair assisted moonsault in the dive train but that you can forgive, and the final table spot but at least that had a soundtrack). As with a lot of this show so far, especially with the XLAW vs Luchas 2000 stuff, the rudo/tecnico dynamic was a bit off. The crowd was behind the Brazos but the XLAW guys got the big comeback/momentum shift off the Brazos going to the well once too often with a whip into a chair in the corner. The crowd got behind them during the mauling that followed though. Like with any of this stuff, the craziest bump isn't always the most spectacular looking one. Crazy Boy took a clothesline over the top and hit a chair on the apron on the way out which just felt nuts. The one-on-one exchanges towards the end maybe went on a little too long and broke the tone of what had come before but there was nothing innately wrong with them. The wrestling was all good. It just felt out of place. By that point the genie had been long out of the bottle and they couldn't just go back to order after all the chaos; maybe if they had fall breaks, I guess. It was all very 2001 post-ECW Emulation with unprotected chair shots and violence on women so inconsequential that the camera didn't even follow it and some worked shoot stuff post-match (I guess?), but that can be good for you in small doses now and again.

PAS: This was fun without actually being particularly good. They wandered around and smashed each other with things, and sometimes the finish ended up being worth the set up, and sometimes it wasn't. The stuff that resembled traditional lucha brawling was the best, I really liked the bleeding and the dive train, and the ECW prop stuff didn't work as well. Segura is the biggest pro on the XLAW team, and his lucha stuff looked the best, Jr. Brazo's were fun, although it probably made sense for their careers to ditch the Jr. gimmicks and go with what they did.

Brazo De Oro/Brazo De Plata/Brazo De Platino vs. Villano III/IV/V

PAS: I love the idea of Hatfield vs. McCoys wrestling family feuds, Armstrongs vs. Fullers is really the only other one I can really remember which spanned generations like the Villanos and the Brazos. Imagine my glee when my boy Rob lets me know about a previously unseen Villanos vs. Brazos match. This is exactly what you want, expect and love about a match between these two families. Lots of blood pooling in forehead scars, great looking wild brawling, a couple of Super Porky miscommunication spots and all six guys looking like the dazed survivors of a tour bus crash. Porky is just iconic, I loved how he worked in the splash-his-partners comedy spots into non-comedic violent spots in a brawl, and the highlights of the match where him just standing and trading hard shots with Villano 3. A worthy addition to this iconic rivalry.

MD: This was shaping up to be a great, hate-filled, bloody brawl, and certainly there's a big history of those between these families but I'm not sure that was the right move to follow the last match, especially after the ceremony. I think this would have worked better if they started with more shtick and then built to the violence. There was plenty of room to transition that way. That's the problem with watching these things in context sometimes. That said, it was a really good brawl until the finish when La Dinastia Alvarado came in to battle in full force. Porky's physical timing was amazing as always. At the end of the first fall, he was masterful at trying to portray an attempt at stopping himself from jumping off the second rope after the Villanos switched up who he was going to land on. Too often guys in that situation would just jump. I was really into where it was heading with Villano III directing traffic but then everyone rushed the ring and that was that.

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Thursday, July 02, 2020

2019 Ongoing MOTY List: San Juan Pantitlan Brawl

44. Romano Garcia/Rocky Santana/Hijo del Fishman vs. Wotan/Fly Star/Toxin BELLO 9/14

ER: Gimme some young bleeders and some crazy old men and just let them go to war baby! This was wall to wall chaos, more chairshots than I could count, too many ugly spills. Santana and Garcia are both in their 60s, and Santana has that awesome old man luchador hunch. Neither is closed to washed, and I'm in love with the amount of punishment they can take and dish out. Fishman ups the crazy to keep up with his AARP discount eligible partners, and he's the one who really takes things into the fans. Fishman and Wotan take this to the people, loved the cool spear early in the match into a regular family (4 year old curled up sleeping directly behind them), and right before the finish we get the spot of the match when Fishman hits a running death valley driver into a set of chairs. Wotan gets a hard trash bucket bounced off his head a few times, and I love how the fans allegiances change as the match goes on. At first they are loud and proud for Wotan, but as the match goes on they clearly get behind Rocky, and how could they not!? Everyone takes gnarly chairshots off the head, and there was a running game of seeing who could could take a harder shot to the chest, with plenty of contenders. Wotan blistered Garcia with a double handed chop, Fishman leveled an elbow directly into Wotan's sternum, and the crowd was responding to every stiff strike. Peak crazy hits when Rocky and Wotan started flying at each other like territorial bighorn rams, and seeing Rocky Santana clonking coconuts midair in his mid 60s means I haven't been going out of my way enough to write about old man Rocky Santana matches (although a lot of Rocky/Romano match links I click end up being just 3 minute clips). The moment of Rocky going from violent headbutt offense into classic lucha exchanges (the first of the match) was a genuinely beautiful thing. I loved that late match exchange between Rocky and Toxin, showing that an old bleeding man can still do graceful sequences. Oh, and then eat a suplex into the turnbuckles. This kicked ass.

PAS: Wotan must have really hated his grandfather, because any time he is in the ring with a senior citizen he is unleashing hell. This isn't as good as the Wotan vs. Black Terry match (although maybe 20 matches in the history of wrestling are), but is still a heck of a grizzly brawl. There was some sort of broken concrete in the ring which made even the simplest bumps look super painful. There was way too much head trauma, I mean Garcia and Santana are already at the age where the average person forgets where their keys are, add in all of those chair and bucket shots and they will be drooling in their pudding in a couple more. There was a couple of modern wrestling moments which looked off, random Toxin Canadian destroyer and a tower of doom spot which took forever to set up and looked bad, but when they kept it simple and violent, it was simple and violent.


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Wednesday, July 01, 2020

AEW Dynamite 7/1/20 Workrate Report

What Worked

-Cody/Hager was a real good mildly overbooked big match, where all of Cody's comebacks felt natural to the match even while Hager took probably 70% of it. Hager works like a punishing lummox, and while some his stuff looks slow he makes up for it with some inspired moments. I loved Hager breaking the figure 4 by just slamming the side of Cody's head into the mat, and Arn taking a bullet was worth it to see Hager drop Cody with a German on the floor. I dig when a bully heel just throws people to the floor, and I thought they did a cool job of Hager tossing Cody to the floor multiple times and making Cody find new ways to get in without getting smashed. Cody's comebacks were strong and fit well within what they were working, dug his nice powerslam after stopping short, and I fully bought into Hager actually pulling out a convincing win. You can tell Cody is a guy who likes coming up with finishes, and while some of them get a little cute, this one definitely worked. I thought for sure Hager was muscling him over into a guillotine, and Cody standing with a wide bridge for the pin worked real well for me. Strong.

-Main event tag worked well enough, and I appreciate that it was mostly subdued and not treated in any way like a Big Omega Epic. Parts of this were messy but I like the direction they built things and felt they kept within the match they were actually working. Taylor always dips out of a match structure to go ham, and that wasn't a problem here. I'm still laughing about JR calling him a beanpole last week. He's clearly the largest guy in this match. He always overshoots his tope con hilo, but his short piledriver looked really good. Trent had a nice aggression here, and I liked the pace he kept throughout, and the way he leaned into a few nasty shots. The ugliest (in a great way) was Omega's missile dropkick to the back of Trent's neck. Omega looked like he was trying to sever Trent's spinal column and that is something that will snap me to attention in a main event. We had a couple good nearfalls down the stretch, and Trent really died to make Page look good, so this lands up here.

What Didn't Work

-Opening tag just was not it. Tons of bumps felt disconnected from the actual moves people were taking (Jungle Boy sold getting thrown into the ringpost like Rock taking a Stunner) and the Luchasaurus hot tag was ug-lee. All of his stupid off timing stutter step kicks look bad, they never land clean, they look slow, and the extra spins and flourishes just look silly. Wardlow cannot catch a dive and Excalibur at least did a great job saving that by saying Wardlow was trying to get out of the way. MJF on the other hand made Jungle Boy's topes look really good, throwing himself back into the guardrail a couple times before getting flattened by a tope con hilo. Every spot revolving around Luchasaurus either lands too light or requires guys to do things they wouldn't normally be doing (he has three different pieces off offense that require MJF just running at him and jumping). The commentary made this match sound a lot better than it really was, so hats off to Jericho and Excalibur for shining this shit.

-Shida/Ford had some ideas and some good energy, but a lot of this was ROUGH. Ford has made noticeable improvements but still has some major weaknesses clash with Shida's weaknesses. Shida is bad at standing and throwing (yet always does it) and Ford is bad at selling on her feet. So you have Shida making ugly non-contact on strikes, and Ford standing there taking strikes she doesn't quite know how to sell, and it derails a lot of this. The small surprises were nice, like Ford's big pump kick, there was smart camera work to cover up certain spots (it's important to know your workers' weaknesses, and there were at least three moments where cameras cut to a super favorable angle in anticipation of a spot), and there were a couple of strong nearfalls. This threatened a couple of times to make it onto the top side of this review, but Kip Sabian cemented it down here for good. Sabian was involved in one spot, and it managed to be the worst spot of the match. Shida caught him sneaking in with a kendo stick, threw a bad strike at him, Sabian paused.....then just threw the kendo stick straight up into the air. There were so many different ways you could have sold a strike and still allowed Shida to get the stick. But this clown just throws a stick in the air in a way no other person would. Is there anything at all this guy does right?

-Private Party took me way out of that tag match. Opponents always feel a little dragged down by them. They don't take offense interestingly because they sell every move as if it has the exact same effect. Doesn't matter how nasty or how simple a move looks, they sell it the same, especially Quen. Their offense is athletic but sloppy, dives always going off kilter, and I hate how everyone has to specifically have a Private Party match. It's a bad structure, and this would have benefitted way more from Santana and Ortiz working like Arn and Bobby, instead of working like a different Private Party.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Tuesday is French Catch Day: Delaporte! Villars! Nelson! Cody! Mercier! Le Foudre!

Al Araujo vs. Marcel Parmentier 7/25/58

SR: Only about 1 minute of this, but any Parmentier is must watch he clobbers Araujo while exuding his trademark miserable charisma and the crowd seemed excited for this.

MD: Shame we only get a minute of this. Honestly, I knew we didn't have much more Parmentier but when I saw the video was 48 minutes long, well...

Roger Delaporte/Paul Villars vs. Gordon Nelson/Bud Cody 7/25/58

MD: We've seen a few Delaporte tags now and we have a number left and they definitely fell into a simple formula. He, as much as any wrestler I've ever seen, had quite the sense of ring positioning. The game, the entire game, is keeping the opponent in his corner, cheating as much as possible, and then showing ass for multiple comebacks. He (and his partner, generally), is a constant looming presence on the outside, always ready to grab from the apron or leap in. There are times here, where he forces the breaking of a hold on Villars just by stepping in, preempting the interference, because the babyface knows what's coming. When he's on top, he's inscrutable and cruel, kicking, hammering, launching great strikes. When he's underneath, he's cowering, hiding, refusing to get in. He takes a great deal. He gives a great deal, always just a little more which is easy to do when you win so much, and the crowd absolutely loves to hate him. We had some of the hits we've seen before, like the leglock assisted by bouncing off the ropes and some new ones like a tandem Fujiwara armbar.

Here, Villars was a lot of the same, not quite the contrast of someone like Guy Robin, but doubling down on the Delaporte formula isn't a bad thing. Nelson was more of a stiff upper lip babyface, occasionally getting furious and taking out both wrestlers, but usually just a constant presence. Cody, who was billed as a distant relative of Buffalo Bill as these were fake Americans, on the other hand, was a powder-keg, a fireplug, throwing fists with abandon. Whenever the faces really fight back, it's an air of chaos, and so much of that is on Delaporte's reactions. Great finishes to the falls here, too, the first being a novel rope gut clotheslining off a whip due to Villars pulling the rope, the second being this crazy up and over press into a pin by Nelson, and the third being full on chaos with a ref bump, everyone being tossed, and the third being a Delaporte cheapshot on a slam to let Villars fall on top for the win. Forty entertaining minutes that felt like twenty, that's the Delaporte formula so far.

SR: 2/3 Falls match going close to 40 minutes. It‘s legendary tough guy Gordon Nelson in a complete match, so that‘s exciting. He was only in his 2nd year as a pro wrestler, but had the look of a grizzled balding veteran, and the commentator kept joking about nelson holds and calling him Admiral. This follows as the same basic formula as most of these matches, it starts out with some basic holds and then they slowly start cranking out nastier and nastier beatings on each other. The heel team of Delaporte & Villar was spectacular here essentially holding the match together. Villars is quite the fucker here kneeing people in the spine and uncorking these nasty punt kicks that I used to think only WAR and BattlARTS guys did. Delaporte has quite an outstanding sense of what to do when in these overly long matches, such as rolling up Nelson while he was busy with Villars only for Nelson to pop up and smash Villars in the mouth anyways, or jawing with the crowd. I have no idea how these 40 minute matches were laid out in the back but I imagine they were built around these types of cues and the faces took them well. Cody held up his end throwing fists and just beating the shit out of the French guys to the crowds delight. Ending was really good with the crowd getting rowdy as hell.

PAS: I really dug this as well. Delaporte clearly has a great formula in tags and it is as great a formula as anything the Andersons or the Midnight Express had. Villars was a great running buddy, really vicious and cheap shotty. I want to double down on the greatness of the Nelson body press which won the second fall. It didn't have any refinement to it, but it was wildly athletic and really spectacular to watch.

Guy Mercier vs Allen Le Foudre 1/24/70

MD: It's funny to watch European wrestling of any sort and see anything experimental in the idea of rounds, but that's what this was. Five rounds of dubious length with short breaks (40 seconds?) in between and a judging at the end. At one point, the commentator asks Mercier about how it's going in between rounds and he indicates it's harder than a normal match. Anyway, this was really, really good. We've seen Mericer once before, in the Finlay tag ten years later, and he maintained that sort of greco-roman vibe with his approaches and some of his throws here. Verhulst was Johnny Londos on the NJPW set; to brush up I watched him vs Fujinami and Mile Zrno this weekend. The Zrno match is great and the Fujinami one very interesting since it's almost like Fujinami facing off against the spirit of French Catch: a lot of things we're quite familiar with. I suggest people track them down. Here he brought a lot of that same energy with really deep throws (over the shoulder and using the leg across the hip and lots of quick twists from both guys). They worked some extended holds, with the Verhulst headscissors (with long headstands by Mercier) and some of the cravates with lots of hanging on as highlights. Some of the throws (Verhulst deadlift front facelock suplex, a belly to belly by Mercier that dropped Verhulst on his head, a really deep bridging on towards the end) were just great. They picked up the pace believably in the last round, really jockeying for position and building things towards the bell. I wish we had another twenty Verhulst matches, but we don't. We do have more Mercier to come though.

SR: 1 Fall match that goes about 25 minutes. For some reason, this had rounds, maybe due to this being for Guy Mercier's European title, or maybe because this was somewhere in the countryside where things were done in a different way. Anyways, Allen Le Foudre is Charles Verhulst (which the announcer also points out), who some people may remember as Johnny Londos from the NJPW set. He also had a handful of appearances in IWE and a nice handheld match against Mile Zrno. Verhulst was a former freestyle wrestler on the Belgian national team and had a reputation for being a top notch technician who couldn‘t quite put his character together. Once again, it is immense to get more footage of a guy like Verhulst from all this footage, in addition to footage of guys no one has heard of or thought about in decades. This match was strictly for the purists, but I enjoyed it a lot. No flashy spots or escapes, no story besides two guys wrestling the fuck out of each other, but I thought it was tremendous. These guys have really beautiful array of armdrags and hip throws which they execute with serious force, all to set up elbow joint popping top wristlocks and chanceries. The camera is really good because the close up really enhances all the little things these guys will do in order to try and escape a hold. All of which makes the eventual escapes more rewarding. I think there wasn‘t a single rope running spot or dropkick in the match. Guy Mercier had some cool greco roman suplexes – not something you see a lot in euro matches. This followed the typical pattern of two technicians working to a draw – mostly technical work and escapes before things flare up a bit in the last round and European uppercuts are thrown and the time runs out. Nothing surprising, emotional or mindblowing here at all, but I thought it was a great little hard fought contest.

PAS: I thought the rounds kind of screwed up the pacing here, but the actual work was really great. I adored the throws here, these deep armdrags and powerful throws from both guys that reminded me of Victor Zangiev in New Japan. There were some cool escapes from the mat and the forearm exchanges were very Catch, but a lot of this match felt different in style then what we have seen before. It didn't really go anywhere as a match, the rounds killed the momentum and we didn't get a finish, but man there was some stellar individual stuff which is as memorable as anything we have seen so far.

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Monday, June 29, 2020

Monday WarGames: AWS Total War

Aaron Aguilera/Babi Slymm/Human Tornado/Sexy Chino vs. Adam Pearce/Al Katrazz/Crayz/The Plague AWS 3/18/08 - FUN

PAS: IWTV put up a bunch of AWS, a mid 2000s SoCal indy, so I grabbed this War Games. This match had a lot of Rick Bassman trainees (or Bassman style dudes) who were big and athletic, but not really good wrestlers. Aguilera, Al Katrazz, Slymm, and The Plague all had some spots, but it was kind of a mess when they need to fill time, and War Games requires some time filling. The match also ended in a pinfall which always sucks in War Games. Great Pearce performance though, he was a guy who really felt like he was in a War Games match, flying into the cage, bleeding a ton, throwing great punches on open cuts. I was always a bit lukewarm on Adam Pearce, but this match felt like he lived up to what he promised. I was most excited to see Human Tornado in here, but he came in with a foot in a walking boot, so he gets laid out before coming into the ring. However he does come back in the finish and hits an insane flip dive off the cage to the floor. The height and distance he got on the dive was truly shocking, and doing that dive in a walking boot is even crazier. Cool discovery with a couple of real high points although overall it didn't really work.

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Sunday, June 28, 2020

The Final WWE Big 3! Lorcan, Gallagher, Gulak 6/8-6//20

ER: Well the feature went away, came back with Gulak, and now not long after leaves for good now that 1/3 of our 3 is a sex pest. I'm not sure how to continue the feature as my back-up plan for one of the three getting cut was to move Kassius Ohno into the third spot and well, that went out the window too. Maybe I will continue as a Big 2+1, with the one being the worker I think most belongs in the third spot any given week. Thoughts?

Jack Gallagher/Tehuti Miles/Tony Nese vs. Oney Lorcan/Danny Burch/Isaiah Scott 205 Live 6/12

ER: Fun trios match that builds off the previous few weeks of matches from each of these guys. 205 has always been good at building feuds and giving some matches a reason to happen, even if the blowoff matches have been roundly disappointing over the show's run. But this was kept brisk and had a nice heel control section, and we got another great run of Gallagher/Lorcan. For whatever reason, that pairing is a real rarity on 205. We have their great singles match and occasional crossed paths in big multimans, but that's it. Gallagher was real mean when he tagged in and started wailing on him, blindsiding Lorcan with a headbutt to the stomach and then beats him in to the mat while his boy Nese cheats from the apron, and late in the match Gallagher has an awesome buzzer beater pinfall save. I really dug Nese snapping Lorcan's neck over the top rope and then pushing Lorcan away from the ropes with his boot when Gallagher was ready to go for a pin. I always like how Lorcan fights through heat segments, and the uppercut he blasts Miles with when Miles tags in is one of the best moments of the match, quickly rivaled by Miles wrecking Lorcan with a lariat that sounded like someone taking a baseball bat to a Thanksgiving turkey. I liked Miles dropping elbows on Lorcan while rubbing it in on Nese that *this* is how you control a match, leading to a big missed elbowdrop that everyone but Miles saw coming. Modern WWE style has so many moves thrown to purposely miss, too many guys focusing on the reversal instead of the move itself, and when somebody actually does a "heel misses a move due to cockiness" it actually plays as something fresh. Burch had a spirited start to the match and gets some more fun stuff when things start to break down, hits a nice enziguiri, leans into a Nese spinkick, and hits a nice surprise headbutt on Miles. Due to how this broke down I'm excited to see a Gallagher/Miles match, and I'm really liking what a lot of these guys are bringing to 205.

Oney Lorcan vs. Chase Parker 205 Live 6/19

ER: This was a bunch of fun. Ever-Rise will always feel like a weird team to be on the WWE roster, but I like how they fall into that Disorderly Conduct style credible team that never wins, like if the Hardy Boys had been heels working as DO in 1997 WWF. The match worms its way immediately into my heart by starting with a long Lorcan headlock that Parker can't break, and we get three different attempts for Parker to run Lorcan off while Lorcan keeps hanging on. For all of the great traditional wrestling moves and spots that WWE has phased out, I love that there are a devoted few who know how to hold onto a good headlock and refuse to break. Parker does his small Canadian Disorderly Conduct offense, like choking Lorcan on the ropes or driving a knee into the gut, hitting a standing elbow across the back of Lorcan's neck, the kind of offense done by hairy men in ill-fitting singlets on syndicated 90s WCW TV. It's basic heel control until he charges Lorcan and Lorcan scoops him into an inverted atomic drop, then lifts him into a traditional atomic drop, and we are blessed because he catches Parker in a THIRD atomic drop variation as Parker axe handle attempts his nuts directly down into Lorcan's waiting knee, then wastes him with the flying uppercut and blockbuster. This had a real WCW 5 minute syndie match feel, which is obviously the best feel.

Jack Gallagher vs. Jake Atlas 205 Live 6/19

ER: Cool style clash that saw Gallagher stalking and striking Atlas around the ring while managing to stumble and bumble into taking the more athletic indy lucha offense of Atlas. Atlas has a couple of neat squirrelly armdrags with my favorite being when Gallagher caught Atlas's boots in the corner and swung them through the ropes only to have Atlas drop his weight like a pendulum and toss Gallagher at a neat angle. But big portions of this were Gallagher calmly strutting around the ring to provide constant pepper into Atlas's ribs. Gallagher starts attacking the body with big right hooks, thrust headbutts, open palm strikes, just tenderizing Atlas's whole rack of ribs for a roast. We get a lot of great moments of Gallagher responding to some flowery Atlas flourishes with a pause and a kick to the face or punch to the jaw or palm to the face or knee to the gut. Seriously, just watching Gallagher stalk and strike is the best. I don't love all of Atlas's comeback offense, even though I like a lot of how Gallagher set it up (like missing a superman punch to set up an Atlas clothesline). Atlas does hit a nice back suplex, but a lot of his comeback offense - and his rainbow DDT finish - would have worked much better in a This Is Awesome kind of match, which this wasn't. There was a lot of attention paid to Gallagher beating Atlas's body and then locking in an abdominal stretch, and there were plenty of cool ways that Atlas could have worked in his offense around the damage, but it felt like his brain was in a different match than the one he was in. Match overall gets a thumbs up from me, but blending his spots into the format better would have lifted this to List.

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Saturday, June 27, 2020

Lucha Worth Watching: 1999 Mr. Niebla

Mr. Niebla/Atlantis/Lizmark Sr. vs. Villano III/Shocker/Mr. Mexico CMLL 8/27/99

ER: I loved this one. This was 9 minutes at most, a full 3 falls, and had so much crammed into it that it felt like they went 20. The rudo team was firing on all cylinders, with Shocker looking like the best wrestler in the world here. This match alone would have amped me up for the Shocker/Niebla mask match, as you had Niebla as this valiant tecnico who at one point glides through the ropes to the floor to go after a baddie, while Shocker does nothing but kick ass. I said we have a bunch of great happenings coming one after the other, everybody here getting their chance to shine. Niebla is a great tecnico, filled with energy, tons of charisma and big movements; Atlantis is right there with him for excitement, and we got a tremendous sneak preview of Atlantis/Villano III with Villano battering him with a quick punch combo; Shocker hits among the best corner clothesline I've seen, running hard into every single tecnico like he was Stan Hansen, and brings out a punch combo of his own; Mr. Mexico has a fun crazy guy energy and does these two really weird blatant prat fall bumps, doing these big swan dives without stumbling or anything. There aren't any dives, and the caidas end all very simply, and the meat of the caidas focused on violent strikes and rudos doing heavy sentons instead of flashy offense. The finish sees the tecnicos locking in la estrella, with Niebla aiming to rana Shocker into the middle of it...except Shocker powerbombs the shit out of Niebla, right into Lizmark at an awful angle. This was a damn efficient use of 9 minutes, total greatest hits collection.

Mr. Niebla/El Hijo Del Santo/Negro Casas vs. Dr. Wagner Jr./Shocker/Mr. Mexico CMLL 9/3/99

ER: Sadly the segunda is clipped out of this one (which had all of the rudo revenge to complement the primera's tecnico rampage), but it's still a primo lineup. This is merely a snack, quick DQ and highspot matches to build to bigger things, but these are all guys I love seeing work in quick environments. Mr. Mexico is a great expressive bumper, Wagner is a true rudo, and Shocker is this great sneak attack artist. That's an awesome combo for a rudo team. Shocker kind of uses Mexico as his human shield, and with his fast bumps and bug eyed expressions Mr. Mexico is a fantastic human shield, meanwhile Shocker is the one cheering it on from the floor and coming in with kicks to the back of the head of downed tecnicos. The tecnicos whip through some great spots, a fantastic quebrada from Niebla, a big Niebla somersault senton off the apron that the camera mostly misses, Santo coming off the top with a cool Hart Attack lariat. Wagner and Santo felt like the big main event elephant in the room, as they went at it the whole time. Wagner dropped Santo early with a big powerslam, and peppers in stiff kicks wherever he can, and the finish run between the two is really cool: Santo goes for the camel clutch and Wagner stands up with Santo on his back, running him backwards into the turnbuckles to loosen him, then plants him with the Wagner driver for the DQ. I loved Negro Casas leaping in and covering Santo's body from further attack, before even thinking about breaking up a pin. Casas understands those personal details and it's the kind of thing that elevates a match like this.

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Friday, June 26, 2020


Lou Thesz vs. Cyclone Anaya Chicago 3/31/50

MD: I thought this was excellent. It may not have the same overt character as the Silverstein match because Thesz wrestled clean but they really went at it. A lot of it was just headlocks, but they worked and worked and worked them. Breaks were clean, but they were never easy, never given. When they worked out of the holds, the entire point was to work into the next one. That was the escalation as opposed to spots. Thesz was explosive, able to grab a double leg of nowhere, able to catch his opponent with a toehold take down off the ropes (and then to twist him into a cool figure four toehold that we never see now), and of course able to fly up with the Thesz Press which is as good a finish and probably did as much for him (especially in an environment where every match needed three finishes instead of one) as a Diamond Cutter did for Page. Anaya held his own here. I loved the end of the second fall where he goaded Thesz into back and forth mares in order to open him up for his deep cobra twist. The finish of the last fall was perfect, with Anaya going for the twist again and then hurting his leg as they both went over the top. The way Thesz targeted the leg again and again only to set him up for a dropkick was, like the end of the second fall, game of human chess stuff. Great showing all around.

PAS: This was really great, Anaya isn't a guy I had heard of before, but he made me a fan. Matt mentioned Thesz's explosiveness, which isn't something I really think of him for, but he felt like a Steiner Brother during parts of this match. He really tore into takedowns, and got huge ups on his Thesz press. I loved the psychology of the match with Anaya being outgunned by a master, but having the Cyclone twist as a killshot. He finishes the second fall with it and goes for it again right at the beginning of the third fall. It eventually backfires on him as he tries it too close to the ropes and gets bieled to the floor, with both guys taking a big bump and Anaya dinging up his leg. Thesz wasn't really working heel here, but he had a nasty streak to him, including absolutely obliterating Anaya with an upkick. I also thought there was a real fuck you aspect to the final single crab, like he was tired of this kid and was going to stretch him out and end it.

Lou Thesz vs. Ruffy Silverstein Chicago 3/17/50

MD: This had been up for a while when they did the big release back in 2014 but it was down until some copyright issues were cleared up. It's great to have it back. This is a really good look at Thesz as a travelling heel champion. It's not really how I picture him in my head. What's really interesting here is how the announcer doesn't really decry Thesz' tactics but instead insists that this is him taking Silverstein seriously. When the Chicago Film Archives dropped so many matches, it was hard to really organize and categorize them. That's, in part, why we're focused on chronologically going through the French footage two-three a week nice and steady. That, then, more than Chicago, is our point of comparison. I think this was just as competitive as a lot of the 50s French footage we've seen recently, though maybe not quite as complex or advanced. You had the sense that Thesz was making Silverstein work for every hold or advantage, through his positoning and how quick he was to grab on, let alone the cheapshots and the use of the ropes. I really, really love Thesz' elbow shot that he'd do in the midst of a break. The end of the first fall, that escalation into rope running and a dropkick out of nowhere, was right out of Jacky Corn's playbook (or possibly vice versa). When Silverstein had a moment, he used it well, with good looking shots and some quick moves into holds (like how he took advantage of an ugly missed dropkick to get a quick roll over to end the second fall), but he didn't have too many of those moments. Again, big credit to the announcer for making him seem all the stronger for the fact that Thesz had to cheat against him in the first place though. Silverstein did put on more pressure in the final fall but you never really got the sense Thesz was in trouble. While still very good, I think this might have been better if Silverstein took a bit more earlier and really made Thesz need to resort to those tactics. As it was, it was a situation where we were told instead of shown.

ER: Big fan of this nice long look at Thesz, and the way he can work as default heel against a respected local guy, showing dominance early without being blatantly cocky, and then revealing he still had a couple gears to shift into when he got frustrated. The announcer was smart about pointing out Thesz' less than sportsmanlike strikes, by acknowledging without hand wringing that there was nothing actually wrong with them, it's just not the type of thing that every one does. Thesz has this little back elbow he utilizes on a break that really feels like something that gets pulled in the NBA, bracing the back of his left elbow and weight against Silverstein and upon breaking, shoving his left palm with his right fist. So he's not hitting a sharp back elbow to the temple or anything, but it's more of an emphatic heavy shoulder shrug directly into the neck and jaw. They work a couple of exclamatory headscissors sequences and the best part was that Silverstein looked like a guy who wasn't quite sure how to get out of a Thesz headscissors. He tried to bridge out of the first one and I swear I thought he was going to get snapped in half; later when he tries to escape from another headscissors, Thesz basically twists his knees and sends Silverstein face first into the mat. Silverstein was competitive without ever fully seeming into it, but I liked how he won the 2nd fall by ducking under a Thesz dropkick, with Thesz sliding over Silverstein's back like Bo Duke sliding over the General Lee. Thesz is clearly not happy with dropping a fall, and after a minute or so into the 3rd fall he decides to put this thing to bed and just starts wrecking Ruffy with shots. I love Thesz's short glancing right elbows, and he just leans full weight into Ruffy from go and even the announcer throws up his hands with a "dumb voice" as if he's sick of sticking up for the technical legality of Thesz and his strikes. "Oh Thesz will break alright, he'll break your lower mandible." Thesz treated this 3rd fall like a big brother who was letting his little brother be competitive, but then the little bro accidentally busted big bro's lip, and you just can't do that.

PAS: I loved how this escalated, obviously Thesz was the bigger, badder star, but I thought Silverstein really had his moments. I loved how he rocked Thesz with big football tackles and cracked him with a forearm so hard Thesz had to take a standing 8. Thesz does this really cool selling where he almost takes a timeout, he can't stand, or has to lean into the ropes. He really feels rocked, like he might have gotten his bell rung legit. After Silverstein putting him on queer street a couple of times, I got why he got nasty in the third fall, and that third fall was a grimy little fist fight from both guys. Thesz has this technician reputation, but he could go gutter with the best of them. The legend was that there was some bad feelings between the two, and that is why this felt out of hand. It looked like hard hitting wrestling to me, but it could have easily been a quasi-shoot too.

Riki Choshu vs. Pat Patterson NJPW 10/26/79

ER: This was a match-up I'd never thought too much about, and yet now seeing it in front of me it suddenly seems really obvious just how similar these two are. Outside of their nationalities their looks and styles feel like mirror images: same build, same movement, same headlocks, same exact movement on kneedrops. Patterson takes a lot of this match, and I like the way he holds Choshu down. He really leans his weight over Choshu's body on a cool smothering chinlock, not resting but clearly weighing Choshu down. He kept beating Choshu to different attacks, cutting him off abruptly and not allowing him any space. I loved the different ways Patterson used knee strikes, with a nasty quick knee to the gut and a later short knee right between the eyes when Choshu was trying to get to his feet. I laughed at Patterson rolling to the floor for a breather the second Choshu was actually able to make space, a guy who needed to regroup the second things shifted the other way. Choshu landed super heavy on a big dropkick, and really looked like he deadlifted Patterson up for a great certical suplex. I loved how late Patterson moved on Choshu's kneedrop, really suckering him in before scooting a shoulder out of the way and then immediately going back to work. Choshu really brought a ton to the finish, some of the best "occupying time" work I've seen. Patterson goes up top and drops off with a knee, then immediately goes back up for another one. The second Patterson went up for another Choshu started struggling to get up, grabbing for the ropes to try and lift himself up, so that when Patterson nailed him with the second and final knee it met Choshu's chest a few feet off the ground. So many other wrestlers would have just stayed on the mat, waiting to take that second knee, but Choshu added a whole different layer to what they were doing, looking not just like a guy who was going to fight until he could no longer move, but using his time to sell struggle in a way that made the finishing knee mean more and look more devastating. If I was unfamiliar with Choshu and that was the lone thing he brought to the match (it wasn't), I would already want to see a ton more of him, because it's those kind of touches that show how deeply someone understands big match atmosphere and presentation.

MD: Pretty certain this one's never been in circulation in our usual circles (or if it has been, it's very rare). Ultimately, this is to set up a bigger match with Sakaguchi which has been out there. I'm not sure I've ever seen it though and I ought to because this sets it up really well. They really go at it here, with Patterson inclined to take every advantage imaginable. It almost feels like a schoolyard fight, but with Patterson channeling the rep Blassie used to have, just goozling and launching inside shots and lightning quick to grab the hair whenever Choshu gets even a hint of an advantage. And when Choshu really does? Well, that's when he hits the floor and stalls. He's just a great presence here, mean and nasty, while making it absolutely clear that he needs to cheat to get out of everything while Choshu manages to escape very similar moves with strength and skill and courage. For example, he'll reach around with a hair pull to escape a Scorpion Deathlock only to immediately put on a crab and have Choshu power out. That sort of thing. That means something and that matters. The big stuff in the match was really big too, with Choshu powering Patterson into a huge, offset airplane spin into a proto-AA, and Patterson hitting a brutal bombs away as Choshu was getting up after dropping him face first onto the exposed turnbuckle. Every new Patterson performance feels like buried treasure and this is no exception.

PAS: I had always though of Patterson as more of prototype big bumping heel, but he was a nasty fucker here, more Johnny Valentine then Dolph Ziggler. He really ground away at Choshu and when Choshu fired back it really meant something. Loved the finish (no surprise there with Patterson being a legendary finish guy) with Choshu trying for a sneak top rope kneedrop, only to miss and weaken a wheel for Patterson to work over, before hitting the two bombs away. Eric mentioned how great Choshu trying to get up after the first one, only to be driven into the mat with the second was, and man was it great. Made the whole finish look super violent and brutal, and made Choshu look like a tough motherfucker in the loss.

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Thursday, June 25, 2020

WWF 305 Live: Mark Henry! Undertaker! Yokozuna! Uncle Elmer!

Uncle Elmer vs. Bigfoot WWF 7/29/85 - SKIPPABLE

ER: This is more of an on paper inductee into the 305 annals, if only because big ol' Uncle Elmer taking on the Sasquatch sounds like the thing of heavyweight pro wrestling dreams. Now, in reality, Bigfoot is Rip Morgan, whose size is generously upsized to make him seem like a larger threat (and they also upsize Elmer, as Gorilla outright says "I know he was announced at 412, but he's 7' tall and 500 pounds if he's an ounce"). Really, Morgan likes like a deflated Bruiser Brody, with legs that appear to be about the same size as mine. I'm an Elmer fan, but this is quick work. A couple of nice avalanches, a backdrop that Bigfoot flies into (I like the way they played it, as Bigfoot went for a sunset flip but Elmer just straightened at the right time, making it look like he just bucked the sunset flip attempt to his advantage), and a nice Elmer legdrop followed by Elmer just steamrolling onto him for the pin. Area Hillbilly Bests Bigfoot!

Yokozuna vs. Isaac Yankem DDS WWF Kuwait Cup 5/11/96 - FUN

MD: I feel like I really need to go back and watch whatever babyface Yoko is out there. When you combine his selling with his timing with his charisma, he's just an amazing presence. I don't think he could do too much for too long, but what he does do on this tour is constantly worth seeing. I think there's still a chance that a new Owen vs. Yoko match will show up. Yankem stalls and stooges for Yoko pretty well to begin and has the great punches when he does take over. They repeat the punches on a second attempt to cut off a Yoko comeback but he ducks it to set up the finish. Nice little wrinkle that is smarter than what they'd need to do in this setting. Honestly, there's a real Rock vibe to Yoko between the amazing moment of Yoko taunting with the Just Bring It and the straight up Rock Bottom he uses at the end. He was just that charismatic here.

ER: I am in love with Matt's revelation that babyface Yokozuna is the Rock, because it's really accurate. He was a charming guy with a super warm smile. You see Yokozuna toy with Yankem and lean in the corner smiling at the crowd, and it's a face that's impossible to hate. I have a real love for immobile wrestlers, whether it be due to size or age. Yokozuna is so huge here, you can see how mammoth he is just during his entrance (that doesn't show his lower half). Every month he was in WWF he became more and more worthy of his own show on TLC. So the lion's share of the actually movement was left up to Yankem, and Yankem blows, my dudes. I think his punches have nice form, but they aren't as "tight" as they would be 3 years later, so he throws an insanely slow overhand right and a couple decent uppercuts, with some corner stomps that looked so bad you'd think this man was an actual dentist who was just play fighting with his kids. Yokozuna was 600 pounds man, feel free to throw a couple boots to the gut. The real joys of this were watching Yokozuna use his small movement for max effectiveness, like seeing him avoid lock ups early. And that rock bottom finisher was spectacular, shaking the ring so much I thought a new oil reserve was about to spout.

Undertaker vs. Mark Henry WWE Unforgiven 9/16/07 - GREAT

ER: The hype video for this was so sick. It really captured a weird Italian horror movie vibe, torch bearing druids digging up a crate of rattlesnakes in Death Valley after Mark Henry murdered him and cost him his title a few months before. Henry's in ring boasts were edited in nicely, guy came off like such a killer and it's crazy how long it took them to pull the trigger on him. This match could have been the first match in a big feud, but Henry was knocked down swiftly and became the big guy all the other bug guys got constant wins over. Totally baffling. Henry even gets right into some kids face on his way to the ring, a kid there with his family wearing matching safety green shirts. Henry just came off like a big deal, clearly ready. Undertaker gets one of his good entrances too, which Henry trash mouths as it's happening. "Where is he? Where is he?" The crowd oddly couldn't be bother with it, much colder reception than I thought the match deserved.

The match had a slow pace, and that probably turned off a lot folks looking to be critical. But I was into the pace, thought it made the strikes come off like Kong vs. a T-Rex. And they laid out everything appropriately to the story, with Taker coming out ahead quick. If someone had put you on the shelf for 4 months and this is your first opportunity to punish them for it, of course you're gonna come in with big right hands and headbutts, corners splash, more punches, really overwhelming Henry. And I love that Henry's first offense of the match was something big, Taker so fixed on punching Henry and hitting corner splashes that Henry ends up hitting a superplex. If the earlier parts were Kong battling the T-Rex, this was the two of them tumbling off a cliff. I'm not sure I'd seen Henry do a superplex before this, and it looked incredible. Henry throws a great clothesline too, just brickwalling himself into Taker, even catches Taker with a big STO. And then Henry starts spamming splashes. I always love when a big man just starts using effective repeated crushing offense. There's an odd stigma on repeating moves in a match, but there are certain moves that you can do plenty of times and not diminish their value. Henry tossing out several different standing splashes in a match is just smart, and it's a smart way to set up a Taker comeback as he eventually misses one. Henry bumped really well for Taker's big comeback (Henry eating a clothesline over the top to the floor is always going to be a cool visual), and the nearfall off a Taker chokeslam was timed so well, I thought for sure Henry was done. Earlier in the match Taker had gone for a Last Ride, a crazy enough thought that I said outloud "Wait, Taker is going to powerbomb MARK HENRY!?" It failed, but he eventually plants Henry with one as Henry had him trapped in the corner. I like the juxtaposition of Henry hitting that awesome superplex to really take control in the match, with a big powerbomb off the same turnbuckles being the thing that puts him down for good. If people can get over the slow pace - and a fast pace would be a silly thing to expect from this pairing anyway - there's a ton to appreciate here.


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Wednesday, June 24, 2020

AEW Dynamite 6/24/20 Workrate Report

What Worked

-AEW realized that nobody in the fed knows how to catch a dive, so I appreciate they made a match into a lumberjack just so 18 guys would be standing close together to catch someone. The set up was clumsy as hell, but it's smart to recognize your weaknesses.

-Super smart usage of Shida, just a quick running high knee and nice falcon arrow and then leaping aggressively into the crowd to smack Penelope around. Shida is someone who fucks up everyone's timing in every AEW match I've seen her in, so quick squashes to build to bigger matches is brilliant.

-Lee/Cabana vs. Janela/Kiss was certainly a pleasant surprise. They kept a hot pace for 8 minutes, and I cannot believe that this is the first actual non-battle royal that Kiss has been in over the entire Dynamite run. He came off like a real star in this one, if not a main eventer than someone who should clearly be a featured attraction every couple of weeks. He and Janela had a lot of chemistry as a team and I liked their quick tandem flying and the way they would run into big Brodie boots or screens. There was really only one hinky spot (where Cabana held up on a roaring elbow and Kiss bumped a little early for it), but most of this was fun fun fun.

-FTR/SCU was a hot tag that started falling apart a bit down the stretch, but I think they mostly did a good job at going home when things started slipping. I think this got good during the picture in picture break right after they did the tandem suplexes over the top to the floor, and thought Hardwood was especially strong with his cutoff punches. I think SCU's double team work was surprisingly more  solid, but I don't really care about FTR as a "double team" kind of tag team, I prefer them more as a cutoff tag team. So it was a complementary pairing with a strong progression. I dug SCU coming back with Daniels' slingshot elbow and Kazarian's big legdrop, and how it lead to FTR taking over later when Kazarian missed with an even bigger legdrop. Even a couple things that missed (like a Daniels flying knee that missed the mark) looked good after Wheeler took a nasty bump ricocheting off the ropes. Don't love FTR cutting gassed post-match in ring promos, but it's at least unique to them and so for now I'll appreciate it as a feature.

-Nice Cage squash. Jon Cruz is the right kind of ragdoll bumper that makes someone like Cage shine, getting insane height on a flapjack and crumpling nicely on everything. I dig Cage's bicep curl spot, feels like something an awesome juiced bodybuilder should be doing. Press slams and bicep curls, fuck yeah. There just needs to be a bodybuilder wrestler who bases every piece of offense on his regular gym set.

-Hardy/Santana was a good pairing and I liked seeing all the cool ways Santana would bump wildly for Hardy. In the opening couple minutes alone he was flying to the floor, all around ringside, and into the barricade. His cutoff work was simple and I liked how he would mix quick reversals in with just choking and stomping away at Hardy in the corner. The flip reversal out of the Side Effect was something I hadn't seen, and I like that it didn't come off fluidly; it came off like Hardy was going through with the move as planned and was genuinely surprised at Santana's reversal. After seeing the abomination that was Wardlow/Luchasaurus and how they kept anticipating every single move a split second (or more) too early, this kind of surprise struggle was awesome to see. I'm into 45 year old Hardy busting ass and keeping up with quick guys like Santana, and dig that he's pulling it off.

-Fine segment to close out the show, really loved how they kept building to the moment where it looked like Jericho was going to pop Cassidy. The through the crowd brawl was real good (also why the fuck are there so many people there in the crowd?? Who are they??), loved the hotshot Jericho took on a railing and especially loved how cool Orange Cassidy looks while bleeding all over himself out of the ear. It's almost like blood automatically makes nearly every wrestling situation better? Jericho's bump was cool, still no clue why so many people were there, but this was a good way to close out the show.

What Didn't Work

-Wardlow/Luchasaurus was a shitty version of a shitty Keith Lee/Dijakovic match, the kind of match that could have been good had they just done shoulderblocks and clotheslines, and instead derailed in hilarious fashion once they decided to pepper in a ton of slo mo dancing. The strike exchanges were all terrible, with Wardlow throwing slow punches from a mile away and both doing pillow soft slo mo Frye/Takayama strikes. Luchasaurus kept showing too much of his hand on bumps, clearly prepping for bumps that never quite matched up to the move Wardlow was delivering. And by the time the match devolved into Luchasaurus doing his embarrassing DDR exchanges it become one of the saddest matches I've seen on Dynamite. Literally every one of Luchasaurus dance exchanges looked like he was throwing them for the first time, without practicing, and without making sure that he could make any of it look good. And none of it looked good. It arguably peaked with him hitting the slowest legsweep I've ever seen, with Wardlow then taking a flat back bump after getting slowly legswept in the shins. Incredible. Luchasaurus whiffed on every strike that was supposed to be caught, thigh slapped when kicks didn't connect, and made sure every single kick he threw looked like a giant pile of triceratops shit. The flying off the stage was a minor bright spot, full props for Marko getting launched like that, but the set up for all of the big spots was so clunky and unnatural  and not a good enough reason to work an entire lumberjack match just to use them as a base. This was a real sad way to start a show.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Tuesday is French Catch Day: Karl Von Kramer! Gentilly! Duranton! Boss!

Karl von Kramer vs. Serge Gentilly 4/29/58

SR: 2/3 Falls match over about 30 minutes. Karl von Kramer was playing a stereotypical, bald German with a mustache, but he was a French or Belgian worker by the name of Michel Laurent. Judging from what we see here, he was pretty awesome. This had some of the funnest technical work we‘ve seen from the French guys so far. Gentilly also looked good, but von Kramer was stealing the show with freaked out takedowns, awesome wristlock work and generally doing everything in a unique way. His shoot snapmares rule. Of course, him being a bald German with a mustache the heel shenanigans soon kicked in and after some inside shots this became a bump-a-ton from Karl. I especially liked all the pin attempts that lead to Karl taking big monkey flip bumps. The heel beatdown wasn‘t outstandingly violent and they kept dialing it back down to do some wrestling, but I really liked how Karl just out of nowhere wrapped up Gentillys head in the ropes and later got some payback getting tied up himself and eating nasty dropkicks. I‘m stoked to check more von Kramer after this.

PAS: This was great stuff. von Kramer was obviously the standout, he had everything you want from a Catch heel, the ability to rock out the mat section at the beginning, the ability to get nasty when required and the willingness to stooge and bump huge for the babyfaces big comeback. I loved how squirmy Gentilly was, Kramer would get him in tons of compromising positions and Gentilly would find a way to squirt out, driving Kramer crazier and crazier. Kramer wasn't as cartoonishly evil and Dr. Adolf Kaiser, but was a more skilled wrestler, can't wait to check them out as a tag team.

MD: This was not what I was expecting. Von Kramer goes for a nerve hold a few times in the match, but he barely ever gets it and never for long. What he does instead is a whole mishmash of other stuff including some of the most tricked out chain wrestling we've seen yet, some really athletic counters, a satisfying amount of pointing to his head and waving his finger to show his intelligence, and lots of opportunistic cheapshots. Most of all, he goes for the win. A lot. There are more pin attempts here than in most matches and it helped to give things a very competitive feel. Gentilly was able to hang with him but more than that, he was able to respond with a lot of fed up, frustrated offense. These weren't often the big sweeping blows we saw from someone like Arroyo but instead little mean shots and kicks and stomps, giving as he was getting, with Kramer often returning the favor right back. The end of the first two falls were very good, with the end of the third kind of weird but enjoyable. It all fit into the match between Kramer's pin attempts backfiring in the first, the inside work in the second, and the sudden stops and trickery in the final fall. There were big bumps and both novel moves and novel spots, with Kramer managing these neat reverse gutwrenches (the last of which Gentilly turned into a backbreaker) and one of the best and most interesting "heel stuck in the ropes" spots you'll see.

Pierre Boss vs. Robert Duranton 5/2/58

SR: This won‘t stand out among all the amazing matches in the project, but I had fun. Duranton brings something different to the table than the usual heel characters. He‘s clearly athletic and and had an arrogant swagger to him that was unique for the time. He hasn‘t gone full Exotico yet, so it was like watching the black trunks rookie version of a future megastar. Pierre Boss is balding with a single lock exactly in the Dory Funk Jr. Spot. He was much more ferocious than Dory here, thankfully and made a good counterpoint. This was long but had enough of the usual solid matwork and guys thrashing each other with forearms for me to enjoy it.

MD: This could have been better, but it could have been a lot worse too. Duranton was a handsome, muscular guy, who had a lot of presence and really thoroughly portrayed haughtiness, but just didn't seem to have the technical skill to go along with it. Boss was fine, and against a different wrestler (like a Guy Robin or a Pellacani) might have grounded things really well. Duranton seemed to me like he could have been a great 80s wrestler. He was able to flaunt his strength, hit big backbreakers, appeal to the ref and the crowd, and just ooze an effective smarminess. He walked around the ring like he owned it. When he stalled late in the match, he got lots of heat. He reminded me of Paul Orndorff, sort of. I think, if we were judging this on a different curve than 1950s France, we'd agree that he "played his role well." I honestly though he sold well, when he chose to sell (whenever Boss was going overboard with his comebacks, and not even that overboard relative to others, he'd more dust himself off and look at the ref as if he should do something about it), but a lot of the stuff that we take for granted (beales for instance), seemed lacking. Boss' strikes weren't quite up to par either, except for his headbutt, which felt more like a necessary killshot when Duranton wasn't letting smaller things register. This had some good exchanges, including the bodyscissors one, and there was an air of uncooperativeness which was welcome, but I don't think the narrative held up. When they went to the falls, they seemed to come out of nowhere with only half the escalation they needed. Duranton using backbreakers to cut off Boss during the end of the final fall would have been great if they had invented long-term bodypart selling yet, but they hadn't, at least not in France. I'm not 100% sure they ever do, to be honest. There was a female announcer with a guest here and I think they spent a lot of the match talking about other things. It was hard to blame them too much.

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Monday, June 22, 2020

WCW Monday Nitro 2/7/00 from Tulsa, Oklahoma!

Wrestling feds never spent more to swirl the drain than WCW did in 2000. For a fed I loved throughout the 90s, I couldn't stand their main product (Nitro, PPV) in 2000 and avoided it almost entirely. I wasn't alone or unique in that stance, as attendance and buyrates were dropping rapidly. In fact, by the time Nitro came to Tulsa, Oklahoma's Convention Center in 2000, they pathetically only drew 6,358 paid. A few months before they drew nearly 7,500 at this same arena for a house show. Can you imagine a hot, popular act drawing less than 6,500 in Tulsa? Clearly an act on the downswing, if you can't put 6,500 butts in the seats in the Tulsa Convention Center.

Evan Karagias vs. Norman Smiley

ER: This was plenty fun for a 90 second match, with 3 Count all trying to interfere and Smiley running Karagias into them, with Moore taking a bump into the ring and Helms getting bumped off the apron. Smiley punched Karagias in the face a couple times, Karagias threw a nice leaping back elbow, and I liked how Karagias kept scrambling away from the wiggle. This would have been good had they given it just 3 minutes. Low end Nitro matches going from a 3 minute runtime to 1-2 minutes was one of the worst parts about this era WCW. There's just not much that can be done in 90 seconds. 

Jesus, poor Danny Hodge is in attendance. 

The nWo comes out and cuts a long and horrifying promo, although Scott Steiner was in typical Scott Steiner form. He goes on the mic hard after Ric Flair, saying that he stole the gimmick of the legend Buddy Rogers ("I know, I know, Buddy Rogers is dead, rest his soul") and says that Rogers is rolling over in his grave and that Flair won't ever have the class of Rogers. And speaking of class, he calls Flair an ass kissin', back stabbin, butt suckin' bastard and also runs down the people of Tulsa. Mark Madden asks Schiavone if he knows what Tulsa spelled backwards is. Good lord. 

Booker vs. The Wall

ER: The Wall was raw as hell at this point, and it's kind of surprising he was put on TV. He didn't really know how to sell punches or bump, but Booker is professional and makes this mostly work. Booker's punches looked really good and he made sure to fly hard into Wall so Wall would know when to fall over. Wall had a great high kick, and that was his only real asset at this point. He kicked like a Rockette, and Booker was smart and clearly had Wall use that kick for a couple of misses (to lead to Booker spin kicks) and then once to land. Wall did fly off the top into a Booker spin kick, which looked cool and also looked silly because again, Wall didn't know how to bump and bend his body. So he just kind of falls over like a mannequin. Booker took a big bump to the floor and really slammed Wall with his rock bottom, then we got some interference because of course. 

Barbarian vs. Tank Abbott

ER: How hard is it to just let these two stiff the hell out of each other for 3 minutes? This doesn't even go 1 minute, which is just cruel. The 1 minute goes as you'd want it to go, with Barbarian throwing big clubbing hands on Tank the second Tank gets on the apron, he and Tank throw blows (literally the easiest pairing to book), Tank backs him in the corner and throws some mean back elbows, and then the moment they start throwing again Barbarian just goes down from the first clean punch. After, Tank blows off Big Al who has come to see him in person!

Oh cool, Oklahoma is out and brings out a plastic surgeon (Dr. Jeter) to talk about all the work Madusa has had done, and the crowd seems into the misogyny at first but it goes on a bit too long for their liking. Madusa comes out and kicks everyone in the balls and also stands on Dr. Jeter's balls. Cooooool. 

I Quit: Terry Funk vs. David Flair

ER: I think David Flair is the worst wrestler to get any significant run in a major wrestling company. This guy didn't even know how to STAND like a human, let alone move like a professional wrestler. This man had no instincts for STANDING! His face was the face of a man who looked like he constantly had to be thinking "stand normal stand normal stand normal" and whenever he had to think about anything else he would naturally revert back to forgetting how to stand. David Flair's movements were so wooden that before his matches he would oil up with Minwax. This match starts with Funk taking 6 straight chairshots to the head, and Flair doesn't know how hard or soft to throw them but also has a hard time because he doesn't know how to bend his arms. If you've seen David Flair stand badly, you've also seen how weird his arms look. They don't quite dangle, but they don't look usable. They look locked in place like old action figure arms, no points of articulation. He's all hunched over with possibly not working arms, and a loose as hell stretched out t-shirt collar. He has dead eyes and rosy cheeks and looks like he's a day away from shooting up a church in the south. 

Terry Funk somewhat works a miracle here, because he takes those chairshots and then starts throwing Flair around ringside, while trash talking Ric Flair on he mic. He tosses David into the guardrail and then pulls back the ringside mats and hits a nice piledriver on the floor, and a hard DDT. "You better come and get your kid, Flair. While he's still alive." Funk piledrives David through a table (Madden makes sure to remind us three different times while this is happening that Funk piledrove Ric through a table at Music City Showdown). Funk goes on a long and awesome old man Terry rant, calling Flair banana nose and then quitting, giving David the technical win. Funk really made this far and away the most entertaining segment on the show. Even though that's a super low bar so far this episode, that shows that 55 year old Funk can still have the best segment on a wrestling show while paired with the worst wrestler of all time. 

Disco Inferno vs. Stevie Ray 

ER: I forgot Ahmed Johnson was here at this point, as Big T. And he's at least 40 pounds heavier than his WWF days. I always thought he looked cool as hell in WWF, and here he's still a different kind of cool. He's wearing a green windbreaker suit, leather fanny pack, chain, and looks like a sinister cookout uncle who is always the first to initiate an altercation. Totally forgot the cool Big T vibe. This was certainly a 2 minute Disco/Stevie Ray match, and none of the match looked as cool as Big T looked at ringside. 

Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Brian Knobbs

ER: Finlay is the ref for this one, and even though this only goes a couple minutes it's still got a lot of asskicking. Knobbs took a bunch of nasty shots and spills and Bigelow happily continued to hit him with stuff. The match starts with Bigelow throwing a trash can at Knobbs from the ring, then hopping down and bashing him with the lid. Knobbs really takes some hard bumps, working way harder than I remember, really running hard chest first into the guardrail, gets his cast smashed into the ring steps and hit by a crutch, gets run into a ladder and then the ladder falls over RIGHT onto his face. Guy is taking a beating. We get a funny moment where Finlay hands Knobbs a trash can to use without Bigelow seeing (well timed by Finlay) and Knobbs uses it, but then Finlay hits Knobbs with a chair to give Bigelow the win. These guys sure take a lot of headshots.

Billy Kidman vs. The Demon

ER: So The Demon isn't very good, and the crowd chants for Torrie Wilson for the entire match, but things aren't all bad. Kidman takes a nice bump to the floor off a so so Demon clothesline and he makes a Demon DDT look like a credible finisher. Kidman's match winning frankensteiner looked really great.

Sid Vicious vs. Scott Hall

ER: Sid was such a megastar, and as they show Hall and Sid walking backstage before the match, it appears that Sid is chanting his own name. He's doing it the exact same way as the Yes! chant, arms over his head, just chanting his name. When he comes out for his entrance he gets a huge reaction, and is just lighting up the fans with fistbumps on his way to the ring. This guy had charisma and anyone who has badmouthed Sid is clueless. I think Hall has always been a good Sid opponent, as he has size but knows exactly how to bump for Sid, goes down fast for Sid's punches and weaves his head just right to cover for Sid's weird corner punches. He stooges and stumbles for Sid but doesn't come off like a joke at all. The fans go wild when Sid grabs Hall for the chokeslam and drags him all around the ring so everyone can get a glimpse. We get a great ref bump when Hall does a killer fallaway slam that clips Nick Patrick, and really for an era that did constant ref bumps this was one of the well orchestrated ones. Patrick was standing in the right spot, Hall didn't awkwardly change direction with his throw, it looked real good. Then Jarrett runs out and wrecks Sid, and Hall hits an awesome Razor's Edge on Sid, but then Jarrett turns on Hall for trying to win (what was Hall expected to do in his title match? I don't understand any of this) and the nWo disbands.

This was not a good episode of wrestling television, but it's kind of amazing how enthusiastic the whole crowd remained the entire time. It's cool that a crowd of under 7,000 could maintain that kind of enthusiasm for something that is clearly falling apart right in front of them. They're watching this promotion that looked damn near unstoppable just three years prior, and now they're looking at this offensive, lumbering, wounded, leaking monstrosity. And you'd think it would leave the arena awkwardly quiet in the wrong spots and leave a bunch of embarrassing photos which show how empty large sections were, but we don't get any of that. We get to witness a crowd of about 6,500 Oklahomans actually having a good time, regardless of the sad presentation they were witnessing. I'm glad the people of Oklahoma got that, at least. 

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Sunday, June 21, 2020

Complete and Accurate Jollyville Fuck-Its

One of our favorite tag teams and probably the most obscure C+A guys yet, but if this blog is good at anything it is finding and celebrating the obscure. T-Money and Nasty Russ are a pair of crazy guys who really know how to work both a regular tag match and wild spotfest. We are going to dig around old Beyond shows, more AIW then you can shake a stick at, and maybe even some Nasty Russ backyard wrestling, and hopefully introduce more people to this great team.


Nasty Russ vs. T-Money vs. Jay Donaldson vs. Samson Walker NWF 8/15/15 - GREAT


Nasty Russ vs. T-Money vs. Anthony Bryant vs. Jeremiah vs. The Titan vs. Jay Donaldson vs. Larry D vs. Sean "The Virus" Hardrive NWF 4/23/16 - FUN
Jollyville Fuck-Its vs. Cheech/Eric Ryan AIW 8/26/16 - GREAT
Jollyville Fuck-Its vs. Weird World (Worldwide Alex Kellar/ Weird Body Evan Adams) AIW 11/4/16 - GREAT
Jollyville Fuck-Its  vs. The Headhunters AIW 11/5/16 - FUN 


Jollyville Fuck-Its/Matt Justice/Young Studs (Bobby Beverly & Eric Ryan) vs. No Consequences (Chase Oliver/Garrison King/Joshua Bishop/Tre Lamar/AJ Gray) AIW 7/27/17 - EPIC

Jollyville Fuck-Its vs. Duke Money (Mance Warner/Jock Sampson) vs. The Production (Derek Director/Danhausen) vs. Young Studs (Eric Ryan/Bobby Beverly) AIW 11/23/18 - GREAT


Jollyville Fuck-Its vs. Wes Barkley/Joshua Bishop AIW 6/15/19 - EPIC
Jollyville Fuck-Its  vs. To Infinity and Beyond (Cheech/Colin Delaney) vs. The Production (Derek Director/Danhausen) vs. PME (Philly Collins/Marino Tenaglia) AIW 6/15/19 - SKIPPABLE

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Welcome to Jollyville!

Nasty Russ vs. T-Money vs. Anthony Bryant vs. Jeremiah vs. The Titan vs. Jay Donaldson vs. Larry D vs. Sean "The Virus" Hardrive NWF 4/23/16 - FUN

PAS: This was a thunderdome cage match, which had one guy come in at a time War Games style until all 8 were in the ring and then it became an elimination match. There was a lot of individually cool shit in this match. I loved the opening section with Donaldson eating pounce after pounce from T-Money and taking acrobatic bumps into the cage, he just flew face first into the cage over and over. I also really liked Larry D, he is a big barrel chested dude who is good at playing brick wall, there was a fun spot where he had three guys on his shoulders at once. Nasty Russ hit his moonsault off the cage, which I guess is a signature Russ spot, which is psycho for a signature spot. Still this match was 45 minutes plus, which can be a punishing length to watch. There was also a ton of booking which might have worked for an NWF hardcore fan, but jumping in for just this match, it is a ton. We had manager interference, a tag partner running in to turn on his partner, a money in the bank cash in and a heel ref. Cut this 15 minutes and half the booking I could see recommending it stronger, still it had some impressive big moments.


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Saturday, June 20, 2020

Low-Ki Shock a Crowd Like a Bottle of Insulin

Low-Ki vs. King Mo MLW 2/1/20 - FUN

PAS: I appreciated what they tried to do here, although it was mostly ruined by an awful finish. I have been a King Mo fan since the Real Pro Wrestling days, but he isn't very good at non real Pro-Wrestling. This was basically worked like the first Ogawa vs. Hashimoto match. Lawal just destroys Ki for most of the match, he opens with a double leg and chucks him over the top rope, jacking Ki's thigh up. He taunts and mocks Ki while kicking his ass, and I really liked him checking his pulse. Lawal hasn't really figured out how to make pulled shots look good, and probably should have just stiffed Ki. We get a pretty good Ki comeback as he nails an overconfident Mo with a nasty Kappo Kick and locks on a hanging choke. There is a pretty terrible run in finish with Dom and Stevens coming out and shoving the Von Erich's, and the ref just leaving the ring to yell at them while Dan Lambert hits Ki with an umbrella to give Mo the win. Totally takes you out of the cool atmosphere with the hackiest and poorly executed rasslin finish. If you are going to do Hash vs. Ogawa, fucking do it and have Ki destroyed, or have Ki make the big comeback, doing this finish just shits all over the match.

ER: Yeah this felt like it was building to something potentially special but really fell apart down the home stretch. King Mo has presence and confidence and that would be enough to sustain him as a worker, even if his pulled shots don't look great. He hit one leg kick that made some sound, but all of his arm strikes looked really bad, and they couldn't really even be covered up in a "he's just mocking Ki" way because it looked like he was supposed to be wailing on him. It's funny, the past two Ki matches I've watched (this, and his match vs. Masada from a few months ago) have seen Low Ki get annihilated for much of the match. It's such an odd thing to see, as he's always been someone who's been very aggressive on offense regardless of opponent, and now I'm wondering if he's shifting into a different stylistic phase of his career. I really liked where this match was headed, as King Mo hoisted Ki up with a double leg and ran him across the ring, dumping him unceremoniously to the floor. Ki is someone great at selling a hamstring injury, and I loved Mo mocking him for being in over his head. Mo dumped him easily through the ropes with another double leg, and with Ki still selling that injury I was getting into either a Mo destruction or a big limping Ki comeback. Ki was all off balance without his leg, throwing desperate hands that were interesting because they were so out of character for him, and I wasn't sure what he was going to be able to land. But his kappo kick was thrown so perfectly, sending Mo flying and reminding me of all of Ki's available tricks. Still this finish was a real clunker, the kind of bad wrestling finish that is only made possible by making the ref look like an idiot. We get Lawlor running in to knock Low Ki out with an umbrella, and it's really silly to have Low Ki get knocked out by an umbrella than by a man who has knocked out many large humans, all the while the ref is still futzing around in the aisle dealing with Mo's crew. I had pretty high hopes for this one, and liked the early exchanges, but things got iffy once Mo started throwing strikes and others got involved. Shame.


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Friday, June 19, 2020

New Footage Friday: Waltman's Sampler

Lightning Kid/Jerry Lynn vs. Masa Saito/Brad Rheingans PWA 11/9/92

MD: What a weird match to exist. I don't have a great sense of Waltman's 1992, where he was done with Global early in the year and not into WWF until 93. There was one tryout match with Bob Cook in WCW and some shots in Japan. I could go back through old WONs but it doesn't seem worth it. If there were more PWA tags with Lynn, I'd be curious to see them. This was set up with Saito and Rheingans as monsters and Lynn and Kid as specialists, with the announcers really hammering the underdog status. Brad played de facto heel (and Saito more thorough heel) and it's such a great role for him. I've seen him on 90s undercards from Japan doing the same and he was very good at it. It almost makes you wish they paired him with Patera and Blackwell in early 80s AWA, but that was never going to happen.

PAS: Kid and Lynn were working as underdog blowjob babyfaces against a team of barrel chested murderers, and everyone played their role well. Rheingans hit a couple of big suplexes and a nasty powerbomb and Saito chucked Waltman with a Saito suplex. There was some nice moments of babyface fire, Waltman getting hyped up and throwing all of his karate at Saito was cool, and Saito sold it an appropriate amount. These makeshift teams worked well together and against each other and I would have been interested in a longer arena version of this TV tag.

ER: This felt like a syndicated WCW match in the very best way, with two teams that nobody realized had crossed paths all behaving the exact ways you'd expect them to behave. Rheingans and Saito are like stockier Steiners, and I loved the ways they tossed Kid and Lynn while also loving the believable ways Lynn and Kid fought their way into it. Saito is arguably the most brick house wrestler to ever walk, and I love how Kid goes off on him with cool kicks and Saito leans into every one of them looking like Thing deflecting bullets off his rock hide. Every time Kid or Lynn would hit the mat because of Saito, it looked and sounded like their skeletons were being rearranged. Saito hits a snap suplex on Lynn that should be a finisher, his dragon screw on Kid sent him most of the way across the ring, and his stiff arm lariats look savage. I love his Saito suplex on Kid, looking like one of those rollercoasters that keeps lifting you up higher and higher until the bottom drops out and you freefall. Kid's kick variations looked great, especially impressed at how damaging he made every dropkick look. Being vaulted into a dropkick is a tough spot to pull off, and not only did he do it several times here, but he used them to smartly set up Rheingans finally catching him and hitting a killer powerbomb. I really loved this, and would have loved a more fleshed out version of this pairing.

1-2-3 Kid vs. Diesel WWF 1/15/94

ER: This was worked how I expected, how I wanted, and most importantly how the fans in the building wanted. The whole match was Kid getting launched and tossed from high angles, big biel throws, gutbusting kneelifts, big sideslam, just picking Kid up by the neck and dropping him. Kid did not get a night off working Diesel, he was going to be taking some bumps, and he even took a doozy to the floor when Diesel pushed him away with a boot when Kid was going for his other leg. Kid bumps hard backwards into the ropes, flops around in them, then lands stomach first on the floor (luckily Diesel was cool enough to press slam him back into the ring). The moments where Kid took over were great, as there was no such thing as a wasted second. Kid attacked with speed, and legsweeps, and a ton of spinkicks. When Diesel would go down Kid would pounce immediately, attacking the leg by driving his knee into it. Kid worked like a guy who knew he was about to get caught, so he was just doing as much as he could until he got clobbered again. Growing up we would have a taco night every couple weeks, easy dinner, mom would make the taco meat on the stove and then we'd add our own fixings. Pretty normal family thing. One time I walked into the kitchen to see our cat Inky furiously eating as much taco meat off the stove as it could. She clearly knew she was going to get caught, but she just wanted to eat as much of that spicy taco meat as she could before getting caught. 1-2-3 Kid was just eating all that taco meat, before getting unceremoniously dumped over the top buckle with Snake Eyes. Inky did not have to take any kind of finisher.

MD: Diesel was a week away from his big Royal Rumble push and for Kid, this was during his week of getting to hold the tag titles with Jannetty. Quite the moment in time for these two. There was a lot to like here. Diesel was pretty giving, but not too giving, letting his legs get beat up but never in any real danger. Waltman bumped huge for him as you'd expect. They had some smart spots, like Kid losing the advantage because Diesel repositioned himself away from a top rope move; when Kid tried to follow up with a figure four instead, he got booted out of the ring; also, the big comeback spot of Diesel going for a second side slam off the ropes and Kid turning it into a headscissors take over. The crowd really appreciated it when Kid was on top here and got heavily behind him. Everyone loves an underdog but these two worked the match in a way that kept them engaged. Nice, short encounter that played to each's strength.

PAS: This was fun stuff, Waltman was such a crazy bumper for this era of WWF, and that bump he takes to the floor off of Nash's leg push was some Jerry Estrada level insanity. I thought Diesel was really good in this match too. He bumped and sold well for Waltman's moments of offense and when it came time to hurt him, he hurt him.

X-Pac vs. Bryan Danielson NWA 11/23/07

PAS: This was a real fun tournament match, which had a little more bite then a normal tourney match. I liked how it started almost genial with Waltman and Danielson exchanging armdrags and taunts, but then Danielson got pissed off and really beat the crap out Waltman, and then ended up brawling into the crowd. Finish run was a bit weak, I would have liked to see Waltman break out something a little bigger then an X-Factor, still this was good stuff and they matched up surprisingly well.

MD: This felt like a really good TV match to me, with Waltman really happy to be in there. The moment that will stick with you is when Danielson got the best of Waltman and did the crotch chop, because it's so out of character and because it cracked up Waltman (whether he knew it was coming or not). I think there are certain endemic issues about late 00s Waltman, whereas he's too trapped by the Syxx/X-Pac stuff and some of those moves and mannerisms. They tease and then pay off a bronco buster which really didn't fit the match or the character he was portraying but was sort of inescapable for anyone in the crowd who was more casual given how big a star X-Pac had been. One aspect of "TV matches," as a classification, is simplicity of a finishing stretch. Here, given the scope and the setting, they could have gone around once or twice more.

ER: I had never seen this pairing before (apparently they were on opposite sides of a big FIP elimination match, but seeing this distilled in a singles match is way more satisfying) and I loved how they matched up. I'm with Matt in that I wish Waltman didn't feel so locked into specific X-Pac mannerisms and moveset, though at the same time it lead to a couple of genuinely funny moments: X-Pac breaking an early test of strength to motion for Danielson to suck it, with Danielson doing something similar later in the match gave us the announcer - calling it like an actual sport - to say "and now a suck it from Danielson!" Also, when Waltman was bumping his crotch into Danielson's forehead, Danielson staggered back into the corner selling them like actual strikes, and I appreciate that. I did like the build up to the bronco buster, as it lead to moments of Waltman flying crotch first into the turnbuckles and lead to our finish of him getting boosted up onto the top buckle, but I liked Danielson beating him around the ring even more. X-Pac getting crotched on the guardrail and then clotheslined off looked real painful, as did Danielson's big bump that got them out of the floor to begin with. I love how many wrestlers were inspired by 1-2-3 Kid because they finally saw a smaller wrestler making it on a big stage, only to find out later how much larger Waltman was than they realized. Seeing how much Waltman towers over Danielson is a real sign of one thing wrestling has at least taken a step forward on in the past 15 years.

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Thursday, June 18, 2020

On Brand Segunda Caida: Heavenly Bodies!

Heavenly Bodies vs. Abdullah the Butcher/Giant Kimala AJPW 6/4/94

ER: I really wish more of the Heavenly Bodies' lone All Japan tour had made tape. The tour was filled with intriguing pairings, including several matches against Fuchi/Ogawa and The Fantastics, and a Holy Demon Army vs. Stan Hansen/Bodies match that has me drooling. They also had several matches against Abby/Kimala II, and one of those was taped for TV. It's JIP, and for the Bodies' sake I hope the early part of the match that we didn't see went better than the match we did see. Because this was a couple of big fat beasts absolutely decimating the Bods. And it's kind of great. It starts with Abdullah and Kimala working over Prichard's leg, and that leg gets worked OVER. I mean we get several minutes of these two chunks just falling directly onto that leg, with Prichard yelling "My leg! My leg!" the whole time. I love it. Abby is dropping his elbows on the leg, Kimala is dropping fat man Ernie Ladd legdrops on the leg, and my favorite part is that Kimala and Abby are both guys who take forever to stand back up. So one holds the leg, the other drops their piano body onto it, and then we see a lot of loose flapping body parts as they get up and do it all again. Kimala goes up top for an epic big splash. Giant Kimala is shorter than Kamala, but he is definitely fatter, and he doesn't even use the turnbuckle! Every single part of this splash looked hazardous as hell, and he just crushes Prichard with it, his giant godless savage momentum sending his body weight crashing forward and nearly making him faceplant. When Prichard is finally allowed to his feet, you better believe he was selling that damn knee. We get an incredible double team, where Kimala smooshes Prichard with a rewind worthy avalanche, and as he backs away Abdullah shoves him in the back to press him back into Prichard. Abdullah must have had awesome shoving strength, because Kimala really flies back into Prichard. Poor Prichard, just spending every second of his ring time getting flattened by these two.

Del Ray finally tags in, every bone in Prichard's leg turned to cornmeal at this point, and Del Ray goes right after Kimala. He drops Kimala with a nice DDT (Kimala takes a cool rolling bump off the side of his head), but Del Ray gets much too confident and splats hard on a missed moonsault. I like that aggression, and the DDT came off triumphant considering the completely one-sided beating that had taken place. After the DDT and missed moonsault, Del Ray only fares better in comparison to Prichard because his leg does not get pulverized into chalk dust. But Del Ray has no chance, as once he's laid out for Abby's running elbow, Prichard can't do a damn thing to stop it. The second Prichard gets in the ring, Kimala runs over and flattens him into his own corner. Prichard couldn't even make it past his corner. This is the kind of beating a team takes when they're moving on to a new territory, or a team is being punished, but you don't usually see these kind of one-sided matches in All Japan. I'm not sure what kind of deal they worked out to go on an AJ tour while they were in the middle of working WWF, but I can't imagine this is how WWF wanted them portrayed on TV. Doesn't bother me a lick, because this was nothing but two planet sized fatties crashing into two Heavenly Bodies.

Heavenly Bodies vs. 1-2-3 Kid/Bob Holly WWF Raw 1/16/95

ER: I started this episode of Raw for a different reason, but when I saw this match I clearly wasn't going to skip past it. It's a real hot showcase for the Bods, but I'm getting the sense that a ton of their tag matches were total showcases for them. I don't think it necessarily takes away from their opponents, but they seem to be filled with so many ideas that it's easy for opponents to get swallowed whole. Jimmy Del Ray usually feels like the standout in these matches, but this was more of a Prichard show. Del Ray had a great superkick, Prichard threw a cool gutwrench powerbomb, and the double teams always look great. Look at how damn hard Jimmy plants Prichard on the atomic legdrop, how precise the aim was; this could have easily been Prichard getting his tailbone slammed right into Holly's eye socket, instead it's a picture perfect brutal assisted legdrop. There are a couple things I don't like: It's a 5 minute match, structured with the Bodies mostly dominated the first 4.5, with the Kid hot tag signaling the near immediate end of things. So it felt like half a match. Also we had a spot I almost always dislike, one of those crossbody flipover reversals that just looked like Holly ate a full force crossbody...and then flipped over. It rarely looks like a guy is actually rolling through with the momentum of a move. The Bodies were so synced up though, a real treat to watch as a team. They have great tough guy spots, and great stooge spots. The best stooge spot in the match (and a great spot you don't see often past the territory days) was when The Bodies joined hands to run at Holly with a tandem lariat, only for Holly to dive onto their arms, which forces Tom and Jimmy to clonk heads. The best kind of spot to lead to a hot tag. Kid's hot tag is too cruelly short, a couple spinkicks (love how Prichard ricochets off the ropes after taking his) but the finish is MIGHTY inspired, a GREAT tag match finish. Bodies have Kid up for a tandem vertical suplex, and Holly spears one of them out of nowhere, allowing Kid to hit a fisherman's suplex variation. That's an awesome finish to a(nother) great Bodies showcase.

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