Segunda Caida

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

Friday, June 11, 2021

New Footage Friday: Nuevo Lardeo Super Card

This looked like an all-timer of a discovery, and only ended up being a cool novelty

Damián 666/El Hijo del Diablo/Espectrito I/Super Crazy vs. Gitano/Mini Rey Misterio Jr/Rey Bucanero/Zorro

MD: This was a ton of fun. I've seen less atomicos with a mini than you'd think and maybe that means that the novelty still gest me, but Mini Rey was really good in his underdog role, Espectrito was very good getting punked by larger guys as a counterpoint, and Damian was incredibly giving (and a real louse, cheating when he didn't have to instead of facing Rey straight!), to the point where I came out of this thing primarily wanting a singles match between him and Mini Rey. I never expected the two of them to be the main pairing for the match but it absolutely worked. Everyone else worked, but maybe not too memorably. I lost track of Zorro after the primera and only caught track of Bucanero at that point. There was a little clipping too but you could tell this was fun nonetheless.

La Mascara vs. Antifaz del Norte

MD: Not going to lie. I'm not sure who Mascara is here, but I thought this was pretty good. They shook hands right at the start, as this was a title match, but Mascara started with the cheapshots almost immediately thereafter. Antifaz had just begun to get back in it when the brazen double-teaming set in and he had to spend the rest of the match fighting the odds. To their credit, they made it fairly compelling and you felt the triumph of his win in the segunda, just as you probably felt like the screwy finish for the tercera made the journey they'd taken you on a little less worthwhile.

Arandu/Pimpinela Escarlata/Pirata Morgan/Psicosis vs. Felino/Mascara Sagrada/Super Parka/Vampiro

PAS: We really only get parts of this, and it gets cut off in the second fall. There were some highlights, with Pimpi looking like a total killer just unloading all of the tecnicos including big overhand right chops and flinging chairs. There was also a great Psicosis vs. Felino exchange, not sure how many times those two interacted, but man did Felino's speed and Psicosis's recklessness meld well. 

Pierroth vs. La Parka

MD: We got a little burned on the promise of this, because really what we have here is most of the primera and segunda and just some clipping of the tercera, but it's ok. I really loved those first two falls. I also really loved the finish. What I didn't love were the glimpses in the tercera of the ref interference, so I'm almost happier not having it. We lose the very initial scene-setting of how Pierroth takes over, but between the heel ref and everything else, you can guess. The beatdown's good enough that it doesn't matter. Pierroth has great clubbing blows and both of these guys can milk absolutely everything, from a punch to the gut to a chairshot on the floor. There was mask-ripping, blood, Pierroth just being a total jerk, and it had that one core element you want from an apuestas match, from lucha in general, that buzzing build towards a comeback. 

Pierroth planted him with a power bomb and the beatdown continued into the segunda. The buzz built too, to the point where the fans were chanting for Parka while Pierroth was all but laying on a chinlock. So it built and built and built, until the lightning crack of Park's kick to the side of Pierroth's head, the greatest thing that can possibly exist in pro wrestling, the moment of comeback in an apuestas match. These guys really milked it too, with Parka having to really fight back after that moment. He did though, getting amazing revenge by wrapping a chair around a trapped Pierroth hanging on the apron. The ultimately finish played off the powerbomb in the primera and that will always work for me. A tercera for an apuestas matters so much more if you don't know the outcome; here, we did. What we didn't know was when and how Parka was going to come back and how that would shoot through the crowd like electricity, the build and the payoff. That's what I want and that's what I got here.

PAS: This is one of the legendary holy grails of lucha libre, a huge drawing feud and one of the bigger mask matches of the 1990s. We have had highlights before, and this looked like it was going to be the most complete version. Unfortunately while we get the first two falls which were great, the third fall was basically clipped to incoherence. There were glimpses of cool shit, though. I loved Parka just slamming Pierroth in the temple with punches, and the big Parka enziguiri was incredible, looked like he beheaded Pierroth. But man this was such a mean tease, hopefully someday more of this will arrive.  

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Thursday, June 10, 2021

NXT UK TOP 50! (Covering Episodes 1 - 50)

The 2nd wrestler ranking for the NXT UK Guide! Our original 50 took us thru the first NXT UK TakeOver, this one adds in the next 26 episodes to our ranking sample. I was originally going to do new rankings per 25 episodes (as in "Top 50 for eps 1-25, Top 50 for eps 26-50, etc.") but I think it will be more valuable to just do a rolling, ongoing 50, with each subsequent 25 ep rankings combined into one big master ranking. It gives us a larger sample to draw from, and will be more interesting over time. 

There have now been nearly 80 wrestlers who have worked at least one episode of NXT UK, but I think it's a more fun idea to keep the list as the NXT UK 50, instead of ranking every single person that has appeared. This means some familiar names will be left unranked, and will have to fight their way onto the 50, to earn their spot! That's more fun for me, and more valuable for the ongoing project. I'll again state that these rankings are based ONLY on matches from NXT UK. It does not factor in any matches any of these wrestlers had anywhere else, only on NXT UK. All wrestlers placement on the prior 50 will be listed in parentheses after their current ranking (a dash means they were previously unranked). 

1 (-). Kassius Ohno
2 (1). Jordan Devlin
3 (9). Mark Coffey
4 (-). WALTER
5 (3). Wild Boar
6 (6). Wolfgang
7 (2). Dave Mastiff
8 (8). Jinny
9 (24). Fabian Aichner
10 (19). Joe Coffey

11 (4). Noam Dar
12 (5). Ligero
13 (29). Marcel Barthel
14 (7). James Drake
15 (13). Eddie Dennis
16 (12). Toni Storm
17 (18). Tyler Bate
18 (40). Travis Banks
19 (26). Flash Morgan Webster
20 (23). Mark Andrews

21 (20). Trent Seven
22 (10). Zack Gibson
23 (11). Tyson T-Bone
24 (22). Kenny Williams
25 (14). Rhea Ripley
26 (16). Isla Dawn
27 (-). Jack Gallagher
28 (15). Pete Dunne
29 (17). Saxon Huxley
30 (27). Joseph Conners

31 (35). Primate
32 (21). Ashton Smith
33 (-). Mansoor
34 (32). Nina Samuels
35 (25). Dakota Kai
36 (39). Amir Jordan
37 (28). Dan Moloney
38 (-). Mia Yim
39 (50). Killer Kelly
40 (30). Sam Gradwell

41 (36). Danny Burch
42 (38). Charlie Morgan
43 (31). Tucker
44 (47). Candy Floss
45 (48). Jack Starz
46 (37). Jamie Ahmed
47 (-). Kay Lee Ray
48 (33). Xia Brookside
49 (-). Alexander Wolfe
50 (-). Reina Gonzalez

This new ranking is highlighted by two big newcomers, Kassius Ohno and WALTER. Ohno came into NXT UK stating that he was a better British style wrestler than anyone on the roster, and well, yeah, that was pretty obvious. He worked six matches during the ranking period, and four of them are the best NXT UK matches we've seen through the first 50 episodes. Debuting him at #1 was not a difficult choice at all. WALTER was similar, though without as many excellent matches as Ohno, as he was an undeniable upgrade to the roster and lifted the quality of the in ring with frequent matches. All members of Imperium and Gallus made big leaps with increased TV time and consistent, quality work, and 5 of the 7 members of those stables make up my Top 10 (Wolfe debuted right at the end of the ranking period, so I would expect his placement to rise considerably over the next 25 episodes). Travis Banks was another guy who really jumped up the rankings, though I don't see him ever cracking the top 10. I was not impressed with him during the first 25 episodes, but the next 25 saw him holding up his end of some actual feuds (it also helps getting prominent singles matches with Ohno, WALTER, and Devlin, all guys in the Top 4).

A lot of the big drops in the rankings were due to workers no longer being featured. The women were featured far less in episodes 26-50 than they were in 1-25, with Toni Storm, Rhea Ripley, and Isla Dawn showing up in only 5 or less matches. There was increased ring time for Kay Lee Ray, Nina Samuels, Xia Brookside, and Piper Niven, but those four aren't as good as Jinny, Storm, Ripley, and Dawn, so that's a step down for me. Ligero didn't have the same kind of strong showings this ranking period, and Noam Dar continues to be a guy who would be ranked higher if he showed up more often (he was #4 based on only two matches, and he's still hovering just outside the Top 10 even with only 7 matches through 50 episodes), and both Grizzled Young Vets took steps backward in-ring in this second set. I'm not sure I even enjoyed any of their matches from episodes 26-50, so there was no way I could justify keeping them in the Top 10. 

I don't look ahead to see what's coming from future episodes, so I can't really do an accurate predication of how the next rankings (after TakeOver: Blackpool II) will look, but I really like our established Top 10 right now. 


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Wednesday, June 09, 2021

He Called My Name and My Heart Stood Still, When He Said Black Terry Do My Will

Black Terry/Satanico vs. Silver Star/Garringo LLUE/ERLL 9/6/20 - GREAT

ER: Nothing like a match with mostly 70 year old men, in a building where 95% of the people aren't wearing any kind of mask (It's a lucha show! How are there not more people wearing even lucha masks!?). Satanico and Terry might be the oldest tag team I've ever seen, and it's pretty amazing what they are still capable of doing. Satanico has looked basically the exact same for 25 years now, and he still comes off super spry on the mat. I wasn't expecting him to take so many bumps, but he and Terry both bumped big for armdrags and hiptosses. Satanico took armdrag bumps as fast as he did when he was 50, only slow down came getting back to his feet, but luckily when you work with other senior citizens you can count on your opponent being slower to his feet too. 

Black Terry has certainly slowed down, doesn't look like he can run very well, and yet he still bumps hard and hits harder. His overhand chops and short elbows still sing, and at one point he lit up Silver Star in the corner with a mix of chops, body shots, and elbows. Satanico did a lot of super cool little things, like chop blocking Silver Star while Star was holding Terry in a stretch, and a cool as hell moment with Garringo: Satanico went to throw Garringo by the arm, Garringo held the ropes to break Satanico's hold, then Garringo hit a nice rolling armdrag. The crowd would have likely been fine with them just going through some rote spots, they guys didn't need to add interesting wrinkles to move set up, but that's what makes someone like Satanico a legend. Everyone got their limbs stretched here, beyond where their limbs should naturally be able to stretch at this age, and Terry taking a huge bump off a middle rope armdrag looked painful as hell. I also liked Garringo's sunset flips, he got more height on the jumps than I expected and made them look surprisingly fluid. This whole thing was a much more full, energetic match than I was expecting, and I love how these old dudes can still surprise.

PAS: I have no idea who Garringo is but he looked like a peer of Satanico and Terry and I am sure has been having cool matches for 40 years. Terry looked a little washed her when it came to running the ropes, pretty crazy he had an MOTY a year later, but his mat stuff looked good. Satanico was a badass as usual, that guy is truly ageless, I loved the bump he took into the ropes whiplashing his neck against the top rope to set up a pin. All of the brawling looked good, and for the most part this looked like lucha by guys in their 40s or 50s not 60s and 70s. 

Black Terry/Negro Navarro vs. Mr. Jack/El Gallego Lucha Strong 9/12/20 - FUN

PAS: Both Terry and Navarro are in their 60s (Terry is 68!) and I think we are getting to the point where they can't bring it full force every night. The early sections between Navarro and Gallego had a nice maestro exchange, but the brawling was a bit dull. Mr. Jack is the guy in here who was out of place, and he didn't bring much to the table. I am going to watch Navarro and Terry until they are done, and I imagine there are still some gems to come, but this wasn't it. 


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Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Tuesday is French Catch Day: Rocco! Gasparian! Le Mao! Israel!

Henri Le Mao vs. Isha Israel 8/22/65

SR: 1 fall match going 30 minutes. Holy shit this was great. A technical match with a serious violent streak. It‘s not about the things they do, but the intensity at which they do them. They did the usual French style hold for hold work, but in a grinding fashion. At one point, Israel put this hold on Le Mao where just pushed his knee into his eye. There are a few chinlocks and headlocks in the match, and while these are not normally exciting moves, they were here as these guys just tried strangling the shit out of each other. During one hold exchange Israel really wrenched Le Mao with a headlock, then dragged him up and dropped him with a sick neckbreaker. Le Mao looked rough after that and it got the crowd buzzing. Israel put another headlock on Le Mao, and it looked painful to break out of. The whole match was like that, hold exchanges building to explosions, and really great at that. Later Le Mao reverses a throw, tossing Israel into the ropes where he almost got strangled in another sick spot. Israel came back groggy but was able to sink into another sleeper hold which looked as deep as any other sleeper in history. It looked like he was about to pop Le Maos head off. By the end both guys were engaging in some strike exchanges that were up there with anything else in this footage. Israel popped Le Mao with some Futen level headbutts, bloodying him. Both guys seemed punch drunk and Le Mao carried on with the stoic determination of a true catcheur as the blood streamed from his brow. His big comeback forearms were awesome. Some rough as hell turnbuckle bumps come into play, too, and they have the crowd by the balls working narrow nearfalls. Really an ultra physical match, and while the match didn‘t have the most tricked out technical moves it felt up there with the best in this style due to sheer intensity.

PAS: This was right up there with the very best stuff we have seen from this footage. Israel was a complete fucker in this, reminded me of Tony Oliver. He really took most of the early part of this match with really punishing holds, tight chokes, nasty armlocks including one where he drove the point of his knee into Le Mao's eye. Le Mao had some fun escapes, but was mostly getting violently steamrolled. He was able to get back into the match when he tossed Israel into the ropes and Israel flips into a Foley loses his ear strangle hold. We get some hyper violent strike exchanges including Le Mao getting split with some gross headbutts and Israel driving his forearm right into the cut. This ends in a draw but I have no problem with a match ending with both guys trying to rip each others heads off with uppercuts.

MD: About halfway through this one, and knowing it was heading to a draw, I had a write-up in mind talking about the sheer, overall quality of the footage. This seemed like just another match. I'd never heard of Le Mao before and while Israel seemed to have put on a little mass, it was a lot of what we'd seen before: excellent holds hung on to, deep struggle, clever (and as the years go on more elaborate counters), a real testament to just how good any random match in the collection seems to be as we're a year and a half into the project and around ten years into the footage. Le Mao was definitely able to hang, no question there. There were some fun specifics like Israel's neckbreakers or the fact that the chinlock, which I really swear I haven't seen much before 65, was treated the same way the rear naked choke was treated when it first got used in pro wrestling, a sort of mean and a nasty move to be feared, as opposed to something we're so complacent about now (I'd argue that it' s the single move we take the most for granted in pro wrestling having watched a thousand 80s WWF matches). Usually with a draw like this, they'll build to the slugging over the last few minutes, or they'll take it up a few times earlier and bring it back down and let it start to boil over as the bell was about to ring. Here, though, they shifted gears with around ten minutes to go and it became a much fiercer, more contentious bout for the whole way in, only slowed down in the last few minutes due to exhaustion and selling the damage already done. Ultimately, it ended up one of my favorite stylist vs stylist draws in the footage.

SR: 1 fall match going about 20 minutes. This wasn't bad, but not all that good either. They just had about a regular catch bout. Lots of technical work for two heavyweights. Rocco was this Italian guy and acted like quite the ass. He really liked the nerve hold and kicked the shit out of Gasparian here or there, but the match never turned into an all out brawl. Bit repetitive, but all in all decent catch that suffers from the match the week before being a whole magnitude above.

MD: When you get a match between heavyweights, you really want a lot of hard hitting and big thumping and you get that in the last couple of minutes here, but the twenty or so minutes before that doesn't quite live up to what you'd want. Of the rest that we do get, the best of it is Rocco cheating, a lot of nerveholds turned into eyeraking, and Gasparian mounting spirited comebacks, be it stepping on the hand or tying him in the ropes. There's a couple of fun short arm scissors moments and a few spirited headbutts here and there throughout, but in general, I left this thinking I would have rather seen Rocco bully someone smaller or maybe get flummoxed by someone like Ben Chemoul or even one of the judo guys.

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Monday, June 07, 2021

2021 Ongoing MOTY List: Tank vs. Damien Wayne

11. Tank vs. Damien Wayne TPW 5/1

PAS: This was a first time match up between two of the legends of Southern indy wrestling. Both of these guys have 20+ years in, and just know how to work this kind of fists and chairs street fight. Wayne really looks like he hasn't lost a step, still throwing great strikes, still bumping big, still getting big air underneath his elbow drop, just an ageless guy. He had some fun stooging shots too, wandering around with a chair wrapped around his neck Terry Funk style. Tank was really over and was throwing hard thudding shots and leaking blood into his rad looking beard. Really dug friend of the blog Rev. Dan Wilson at ringside doing a nice of of hyping up Tank. I'm glad to see the Rev back, and be on the lookout for some great podcasts I did with him in the next couple of months!

ER: If you drove to Knoxville to see a Damien Wayne/Tank battle, this is them having the kind of match that would make it worth the trip. You get back from the dead Reverend Dan yelling at Tank the whole match like an evil Burgess Meredith ("Nobody has a harder head than Tank!" "This isn't the first fork Tank's ever felt."), and these two punch and kick the hell out of each other and bleed while doing it. Tank and Wayne (and Dragon Dan) have such classic wrestling looks, two intimidating motherfuckers, guys that hit hard and sell punches well. It's unfathomable that they didn't cross paths earlier, but I honestly couldn't have seen this match being any better had it happened 15 years ago. Tank gets busted open when Wayne starts stabbing him with a fork, and seeing Tank bleed and punch his way back is the kind of pro wrestling I love. Wayne is a super expressive salesman, staggers around the match selling ball shots and punches with Rick Rude duck walks, a guy who makes Tank's already first class right hands look even better. Tank throws a corner chop/jab combo that is I think the best version of that spot I've seen, made me think about what would have changed if Samoa Joe had watched Wildside tapes instead of All Japan tapes. Wayne stooges around the crowd with a chair around his neck, getting punched into spins, chopping the ringpost, but whenever he fired back at Tank he made it look like it would really move him. The finish was awesome, some classic Damien Wayne hang time, landing a gorgeous top rope elbowdrop while Tank was buried in chairs. This felt like a Knoxville backyard version of Solar/Negro Navarro, obviously in the best way possible. When Wayne was leaving the ring after dropping that big elbow, a fan exclaimed to his friend "That was badass. That was badass!" Sure was. 


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Sunday, June 06, 2021

NXT UK Worth Watching: Wolfgang! Gallus! Wild Boar! WALTER! Primate!

Wolfgang/Mark Coffey vs. Wild Boar/Primate NXT UK 6/14 (Aired 6/19/19) (Ep. #47)

ER: Great hard hitting sprint, both teams have a strength at building quick in and out tags that are majority killer and not any longer than they need to be. This started with The Hunt running wild and hitting a pair of dives and Boar hits some sentons, and you can see a strength of Coffey and Wolfgang is getting into position for all of The Hunt's attacks, cutting off in nicely timed spots, but also setting up small comeback moments (like Mark taking a big bump off the apron after getting hit by Boar, only for Wolfgang to cut him off), and I like the simple ways Gallus grounds Boar, with stomps and a full nelson and quick tags. It was all building to a big Primate hot tag (which honestly should have been hotter, and gone on at least a couple beats longer), but Mark and Wolfgang are good at getting good height on things like backdrops, and I did love how quickly Mark turned to tables by just running Boar into the ring steps with a double leg. The assisted powerslam/kick finish felt like it came a bit too quick, but I liked the work in the match that got us to that point. It ended up being a nice Gallus showcase, and I was a bit surprised how "down the ladder" it made The Hunt come off, but could be easily explained by "good teams beat good teams" and that's fine. They were working at a pace that easily could have allowed for another 6 minutes of strong tag wrestling, and I hope they get the chance to have that match. 

WALTER vs. Travis Banks NXT UK 6/15 (Aired 6/26/19) (Ep. #48)

ER: WALTER is so good at being a territory Ric Flair, in his specific territory. He almost always towers over every one of his challengers, but that doesn't mean that he would have to actually be good at believably selling for his small opponents, doesn't mean that he would have to ever get good at integrating his small opponents' offense into a match. But he is really great at showing vulnerability, and it's matches like these that highlight how good he can be at showing just the right amount of it. Travis Banks doesn't necessarily have offense that looks like it would be too damaging to WALTER, but it's worked into the match at such a time, and sold so excellently by WALTER, that you get the sense the WALTER *could* be surprised with an upset. WALTER is of course savage here, throwing full weight behind everything he hits Banks with, and my favorite moment came early when WALTER just grabbed a kicking and resisting Banks and plopped him on the top rope, as if he were a Long Island security detail removing Low Ki from a venue. 

WALTER lays Banks across the turnbuckle and then just climbs up to stand on his neck, until Banks falls hard to the floor. Banks did not seem like someone who should even be challenging WALTER in that moment, so it was impressive when he starting landing leg kicks and WALTER started feeling them. WALTER's selling was really what put this onto the next level, as he was great at realistically occupying himself by lightly limping, showing his knee buckle, stopping briefly to make sure the injury wasn't worse, the tiniest little things to give Banks enough time to get to his next attack. There was a good nearfall when Banks hit a nasty double stomp off the top, felt like Toyota really driving her heels into Kong. And Banks' tope really sent his weight all the way into WALTER, and I love when an undersized man throws himself as hard as he can into a tope. Also, it felt like WALTER appropriately sold that tope, and it made sense that even with that nice dive WALTER was still able to finish things 30 seconds later. NXT UK is maybe the only brand under the WWE banner that seems to understand that nothing needs to be 50-50, and there are plenty of engaging ways to craft high quality and/or interesting matches at 75-25. 

Wolfgang/Joe Coffey/Mark Coffey vs. Wild Boar/Primate/Dave Mastiff NXT UK 6/16 (Aired 7/10/19) (Ep. #50)

ER: Trios continue to be an underutilized match style on NXT UK, and here's another one that shows what an asset they can be to the program. I also like that this is just six bruisers, just gathering them all in one place. NXT UK men's division is definitely divided up between fast guys who want to hit their spot sequences (and some very good at it) and guys that just want to crash into each other, and this match just throws six of the crashers in together. This was a real nice Gallus showcase, shows how well they work together and the slightly different things they all bring. I really like Wolfgang, a wrestler who does a ton of cool things but nothing overly flashy. He might be the only guy in wrestling to still fling themselves into the mat on an Irish whip, and I love it, it's like Mitch Williams falling off the mound to throw harder. Wolfgang has some cool tackles, a nice diving lariat, the perfect glue guy for Gallus. Wild Boar is a great hot tag, comes in with an awesome log roll trip, then a great senton and an awesome spear in the corner. Gallus separates him from his boys and I dug all of Gallus controlling Boar, all building to a big Mastiff hot tag. Gallus are good at control, and arguably better at feeding for comebacks, especially Mark Coffey. Coffey is intentionally in the ring when Mastiff runs wild, because nobody was going to take a higher backdrop than Mark. Mastiff hits an awesome Finlay roll into Wolfgang with Mark on his shoulders, hits a German on Mark, headbutt to Joe, cannonball to Mark, and then we get stereo dives from The Hunt. It was a great finishing stretch, and I had no clue who was going to take it, as all were very good at hitting something cool and then getting taken out. Joe wound up leveling Boar with a lariat after Wolfgang took out Mastiff, and yes I'm going to need more trios matches. We've seen some good trios with bruisers, let's see a flier trios!

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Saturday, June 05, 2021

WWF Raw 5/18/98: Would You Look at These Great On-Paper Matches!!

Scorpio vs. Val Venis

ER: What a fucking wild match. First, it's an incredible rib to have two months of vignettes building up your big dick porn star wrestler, and then debut him against the Legendarily Dicked Too Cold Scorpio. And the match is such a colossal failure as a Val Venis debut that it's crazy to me that this match isn't more renowned. Everyone remembers how bad Jericho was made to look in his debut, but here's Venis working his in-ring debut after two months of vignettes, getting my ass completely handed to me by Too Cold Scorpio's most dominant performance of 1998. Jim Ross points out on commentary that Scorpio has been looking a whole lot tougher and more confident since teaming with Terry Funk, and from there we get this unexpected resurgent babyface performance from Scorpio that completely overshadows Val's debut. 

They work a fast paced, tidy All Japan juniors style match that really plays to the strengths of both, but Venis is too good at bumping and Scorpio is too good at delivering stiff offense. I really liked Venis's 1998 offense, especially his corner work. He had several different great strikes that he could play with his opponent in a corner - tough to do - with a big chop, great submarine uppercut, nice overhand right. And he really plays chicken a couple of times with shoulderblocks that neither backed down from. But this was Scorpio's story, and if your debut turns into somebody else's story, well then I can not think of many worse circumstances to debut under. Scorpio just keeps hitting cooler and cooler offense that keeps sounding louder and louder, and the more spin kicks he does the more the Nashville crowd starts getting behind him. Scorpio lays Venis out with hard back elbows and clotheslines, and yes three different spin kicks. So Venis kept bumping for Scorpio and Scorpio just kept getting flashier, hitting a gorgeous sunset flip out of an electric chair and an incredible worked Wrestling II knee lift. 

But the truly greatest moment of the match comes when Scorpio nails his twisting splash off the top, and Venis kicks out as late as possible, and the crowd was disappointed that Venis kicked out! If it hadn't been clear at that point, it was now crystal clear that this crowd was now fully behind Scorpio bucking the lifelong trend that has been ingrained into us that the debuting gimmick always wins. I still think I have a personal Mandela effect with Bastion Booger losing his debut against Virgil, then winning a rematch the next week. Did that happen? It felt so weird seeing a guy with a gimmick, whatever the gimmick was, lose in his debut. When they had a rematch the next week I was sure it was because there had been a mistake and that Booger was clearly supposed to have won. Scorpio starts visibly playing to the fans, really leans into taking that debut away from Venis. I swear Val got no offense in the last 4 minutes of this match, just took a real noble beating in the match that was supposed to highlight his cool new moveset to a crowd who had never seen him. Scorpio misses a big moonsault (to the disappointed groans of the Nashville Arena) and then Venis wins with an okay big splash (he hit many more better). Scorpio even kind of showed him up on his own finisher, as he got into position for the Money Shot into an active way. He was on his stomach after missing his moonsault, then made a bit of a show out of struggling up to his hands and knees before falling over and winding up on his back in the center of the ring. 

Two weeks later they had Val Venis squash Papi Chulo, or, the very obvious guy you have on the roster to debut against a new heavily promoted babyface. I don't think Scorpio got to shine brighter than this over the rest of his WWF run. 

Terry Funk vs. Marc Mero

ER: Great Terry Funk performance, really putting on a show for a Nashville crowd that I bet he assumed would be more into a classic stumbling babyface performance, instead of chanting and leering at Sable as if they were heckling to get under Rob Dibble's thin skin. And so, Funk staggers, doing a fun bit on the apron where he gets punched by Mero, swinging Funk around for the fans to see as he barely holds onto the top rope, and does that a few times before walking and falling right off the apron. Mero is almost exclusively punches and cheater elbows here, but Funk is a guy who will lean in to your cool elbow strike and then throw back a few lefts of his own. Funk has an awesome western lariat and gets to hit a bitchin piledriver, but Sable's presence at ringside means the fans will not care at all about what Funk or Mero do. Sable does get involved, screeching loudly, Mero hits a low blow, and Funk somehow kicks out at 2? Funk might be the only guy in 1998 to have balls durable enough to not get immediately pinned after getting uppercutted in them. Funk even gets to no sell Mero's TKO finisher, as Sable gets on the apron a bit too early to call attention to the low blow, meaning Mero has to get in her face earlier, meaning Funk gets to stand right up after the TKO to spike Mero with a DDT for the win. 

LOD 2000 (Animal/Hawk) vs. D.O.A. (Chainz/Skull)

ER: This felt like it should have been better, but still kicked enough ass to deliver. I like when we get Chainz into the DOA mix instead of the twins, and I thought Hawk and Animal looked like they were trying hard even while being clearly a step off. Hawk looks a little messy but has the best punch exchange of the match when he fires at Skull's ribs in the corner. Animal hits a big powerslam and hits a really high leaping elbow, and I always get into Chainz' methhead crank biker energy. A longhair biker hitting a big boot and dropping a bunch of frantic elbowdrops feels like the offense of a crazed NoDoz and mescaline fueled biker. Hawk hits a big size powerbomb on Skull, we get a switcheroo with 8-Ball, and you know what I think this did fully kick ass. 

Dude Love vs. Dustin Runnels

ER: Dustin/Foley is always a cool match up, no matter the gimmick or era. Dustin during the Runnels era was an impressively raw babyface in hindsight. It isn't a well thought out progression, and they don't capitalize on things they could have, but matches from Runnels era really show Dustin's barest bones babyface skills. I've seen Dustin work with several different sized house show crowds, and he's always been one of those guys who knew how to do little things to connect to a crowd. This part of 1998 felt visually painful when I watched it at the time, his storyline a sad struggling man rather than a walking tall babyface. I thought his promos came off a little pathetic at the time, clearly a man between stages of his career, yet still somehow under 30 years old. But his in-ring still connected with crowds, and they connected to him here as a babyface fighting for his career (there was a "Dustin Must Win or Not Be Paid for 30 Days" stip added to this match, but barely promoted before, during, or after the match), and the whole match is basically Dustin kicking Foley's ass for 2 minutes before getting distracted and losing by way of mandible claw. The 2 minutes of fired up Dustin were really cool, with Runnels pulling Dude's sports jacket over his head and hitting him with hockey punches, really just 2 whole minutes of Dustin throwing punches before losing immediately. Neither guy looked in their best shape, both were moving a little slow, but the beating looked great. 

The Head Bangers vs. Dick Togo/MEN's Teioh

ER: A total mess of a match that nobody knows how to react to. Kaientai only took one week to move from their MPro gear into their street gang clothes, but Togo was really the only member who actually looked cool in street clothes. Teioh looks like a debatably tough junior high school student, wearing baggy jeans and basketball shoes, and is completely dwarfed by both Head Bangers. The Bangers easily handle the much smaller Kaientai, doing some nice double teams like a crossbody vertical suplex and a middle rope clothesline from Thrasher. Funaki and Yamaguchi cheat from the floor, but it never seems very effective. Kaientai really doesn't do much of anything until Togo gets in and gets a nice corkscrew senton off the top, a springboard axe handle, and a nice cannonball. Eventually all of Kaientai are in the ring blatantly interfering, Taka and Bradshaw run out, and nobody knows exactly what to do or where to go. Neither Bradshaw or Taka run in and actually hit anyone, so you have all four members of Kaientai, both Head Bangers, and now two new people all kind of standing around, and somehow when Taka finally does make a move at someone he runs squarely into referee Tim White. WWF's severe lack of any other "small" wrestlers really made Kaientai look like Lilliputians during the formative debut time where they were supposed to look cool. 

New Age Outlaws vs. The Rock/Owen Hart

ER: Owen Hart in the Nation still comes off like one of his weirder periods in WWF, honestly feels like he was going through the same gimmick crisis as Dustin was going through, he just happened to wind up around a hotter act instead of lost in the shuffle. This starts as a big DX/Nation skirmish (X-Pac/Henry is a fun underrated pairing btw) and settles down into a pretty nice tag match. The Rock and Road Dogg were really complementary opponents, both good at taking the exaggerated strikes of the other, Road Dogg taking super fast back bumps off Rock punches, clotheslines, and a back elbow. Owen comes in with a couple of nice atomic drops, and somehow Road Dogg's ear gets cut open. Owen improvises and goes all the way in on Road Dogg's ear blood, biting at the ear and getting Road Dogg's blood all over his mouth and nose. I don't think Jim Ross really knew how to react to how psychotic Owen looked while biting Road Dogg's ear, so he just kind of fumbles around and moves on quickly. This is certainly the era of really blatant interference, and this just ends when Faarooq runs in and hits the Dominator on Rock while the ref somehow had his back turned the entire time. 

Steve Austin vs. Gerald Brisco/Pat Patterson

ER: I did not give a single goddamn about Patterson and Brisco wrestling in matches during 1998, literally wanted to see anybody else on the roster get ring time than these two. Watching it back over two decades later and it's pretty fun seeing what kind of stupid bumps and finishers two men in their mid to late 50s are willing to take. I still would much rather see the dark match from after this episode of Raw (which was Vader/Terry Funk/Undertaker vs. Rock/Dude Love/Kane), but it's clear neither of them were dogging it. Austin threw a bunch of hard fists at the side of their heads, and Patterson takes an insane bump into the turnbuckles, suddenly channeling his inner Psicosis. Patterson winds up hanging from the top rope/turnbuckle by his knee, like he took the upside down corner Flair bump and just hung there after. It looked like an old man trying his damndest to tear his ACL. All of them eat Stunners (including guest ref Sgt. Slaughter), Vince comes out of the crowd dressed as Austin wearing a mask, Foley comes out and eats a lariat, and it's another Raw that ends with Austin scrapping against five guys while refs hold him back, the exact Raw ending that would make me and my friends flip out and love pro wrestling as teenagers. 

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Friday, June 04, 2021

New Footage Friday: Ricky Morton Week

Rock and Roll Express vs. Buddy Landell/Doug Somers ACW 6/89

PAS: Really fun short TV tag with a great heeling and stooging pink booted Buddy Landell performance. I loved how he backed Morton into the corner and gave him a contemptuous little tap on his cheek, only for Morton to pop him in the jaw which Buddy sold with a Valentine flop. We got the heels working over the Rock and Rolls only to get the hot tag, match ends weakly with Landell and Somers getting DQed for tossing Morton over the top, we never really got the full payoff although I enjoyed the journey.

MD: This is from Atlantic Coast (Nelson Royal's late 80s promotion) TV and is just a really fun eight or nine minutes. Landell's an all time stooge to start, disengaging, snapping his fingers, pinching Morton's cheek and then taking a slow, overwrought timber bump when he gets pegged for his troubles. After Gibson wipes out on the post, Somers and Landell put on a master class in ref distraction, underhanded switches, and cutting off the ring. It's only a few minutes of control but they make it feel longer and weightier in the execution, which is always what you want in a match like this. The transition to comeback made sense for a short TV match (the double-teaming backfiring as a second rope axe-handle knocks Gibson across the ring to make the tag) and the finish was the sort of thing that kept the program going and got people to head out to the local shows to see something more decisive. It was what you'd want from a sub-ten minute TV match with these four and I bet the house shows were really good.

Ricky Morton/Beau James vs. The Battering Ram/Justin St. John SSW 10/21/95

PAS: This is a Hell before Halloween match, a tornado tag with weapons in the corner. Really fun short Memphis style main event brawl. Never hear of the heels before, but they had nice punches and a willingness to be hit by a bullwhip which is pretty much what you need for these types of matches. Beau bled some, although not a full Beau James gore fest. Match had commentary but not crowd noice, which does hurt it a bit, so much of these types of matches are about building to a huge crescendo and while we could tell it was happening we couldn't actually hear it.

MD: We wanted to close out the Morton theme week with a SSW match and first gravitated to an 09 match vs Eaton but it only went a few minutes. This was a weapons in every corner match, so there was all sorts of things involved, from a staple gun to a bullwhip. The story was that Beau got taken out on the post early and Morton had to fight off both guys. Once Beau got back in they worked over the wound a bit, but after a shot from said staple gun, it devolved into a lot of back and forth weapons shots. Morton using the bullrope was especially fun and the heels stuff looked good enough, even if Battering Ram seemed to meander about now and again, though that added to the chaos as much as subtracted. If they were going to go with color and woundwork in a match like this, you'd hope for a bit more flow and having it spread around a bit. Battering Ram's mask was white and stayed white, for instance. It felt like a match of its time, an odd port into SSW, but it was an interesting relic to see mid-90s Morton in the midst of something like this.

Ricky Morton vs. Bam Bam Bigelow MEWF 10/23/97

PAS: This was not would you would expect at all. Bam Bam is the babyface defending the ECW title on a Baltimore indy, and Morton is working as a Memphis heel. Small heel against giant babyface is kind of a weird dynamic, and while Morton is fun complaining about a hair pull and bumping around, I don't really think Bam Bam had the type of charisma needed to work as an overdog babyface, he isn't Hulk Hogan getting his hands on Bobby Heenan, just too subdued. Finish was an eyeopener, Bam Bam catches a Morton bodypress and hits a disgusting looking sit out piledriver, stood Morton straight up and looked like he broke his neck. Completely separate bit of horror from the rest of the low stakes match. Interesting, but ultimately a failure. 

MD: A rare, as in I think it only happened a handful of times, look at traveling ECW Champ Bam Bam Bigelow. You'd probably want the roles to be reversed here, as Morton was a heatseeking, stalling and stooging heel, and Bigelow was the brick wall, dominant champ, but we take what we get. Morton ran into the wall well to start. Even when things turned, after Morton brought out Hamrick to help him, Bigelow never really seemed in too much danger. It's not that Morton's stuff didn't look good, as it was fine, but you didn't really get the sense he was putting a dent in Bam Bam. That wasn't to say that you couldn't imagine a world where Morton might somehow cheat to win though, so it still worked well enough, and he was scummy enough about it and Bam Bam dynamic enough in his high octane hope spots, that you were happy to see things turn around. We miss how Hamrick's taken out of the equation, but the finish, with Bam Bam catching Morton off the top and planting him with Greetings from Asbury Park worked really well. I don't know if it was the indy ring or Morton's sell or what, but Bam Bam bumping himself on the impact was just resounding. I think I'd feel better about this one if we had dozens of traveling champ Bigelow matches or another five or six face Morton vs Bam Bam ones.

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Thursday, June 03, 2021

Eddie Kingston Rides Around Trunk Full of That Funk Call it That Parliment

Eddie Kingston/Nick Gage/Justice Pain vs. Lufisto/Franky the Mobster/Kevin Steen/El Generico vs. Blackout (Robbie Marino/Sabian/Joker/Ruckus) CZW 8/12/06 - GREAT

PAS: This was a three team cage match (it was in the Cage of Death, but not listed as a Cage of Death match for some reason). I really enjoyed the early chaos, you had all 11 wrestlers recklessly brawling around the ring. We got a bunch of Eddie and Joker hitting each other hard which is always great, and Lufisto is really fun winging unprotected chair shots at peoples' heads. I was shocked at how much I dug Justice Pain in this, he isn't a guy I remember rating particularly high during the time, but he was taking crazy and athletic bumps into the cage and had a fun jacked meathead stand off with Franky the Mobster. The match really got very booking heavy at the end. When we got to the eliminations they came pretty quickly, which is always kind of the problem in elimination matches. There is a big standoff where everyone clears the ring and Pain sends Kingston (who had been turned on by Blackout earlier in the show) to face off with Ruckus to prove himself. Kingston is pretty much the perfect "I've got to prove myself wrestler" and the Ruckus section was good stuff. Steen had been bullying Lufisto, and she wins his Iron Man title by low blowing him and rolling him up (even though they were on the same team), Steen comes back and lays her out with a package piledriver, leaving her to be pinned by the H8 Club and Kingston. That is a really weird way for babyfaces to win a match like this, and H8 Club and Kingston were never in any particular peril, they just kind of ran through everyone. I think this ended up being lesser then the sum of its parts, although it had some really good parts,

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Wednesday, June 02, 2021

On Brand Segunda Caida: Apache and Sevilla Dance in the Rain, then Dance for HAIR!

Gran Apache vs. Oscar Sevilla AAA 3/19/00

ER: This is a pretty famous match if you were a certain age on internet wrestling message boards, two lunatics fighting in the middle of a rain storm in the slipperiest possible ring. The video quality on year 2000 lucha is grainy enough that you don't see the rainfall, but it's impossible to ignore the huge umbrellas everywhere and the pools of water splashing up from the ring. Sevilla starts things by hitting a great tope as Apache is coming down the aisle, and it's such an insane way to start the match because these guys clearly had no traction in that ring. Sevilla built up an impressive head of steam on a ring where guys were falling over just throwing worked stomps. The ring looked like waxed glass, a real slip and slide, and it added to every part of this match and made everything they did so much more impressive. Both guys bleed, and bleeding in a ring during a rain storm is just a different level of kickass wrestling bleeding. Sevilla is a fun lucha bumper, really throwing himself into his misses, and he has one of my favorite ways of hitting the turnbuckles. 

Apache has among my favorite strikes in wrestling history, and his punches, slaps, and kicks are on glorious slippery display throughout all of this. His pushing kicks to Sevilla's head are so annoying and so awesome, Sevilla bleeding out while Apache is just scraping his boot across his forehead and sliding into position like he's in Risky Business. Apache even incorporates the ring water in ways I wasn't expecting, like attempting to drown Sevilla while holding him in a caballo. Apache's second was great cheapshotting Sevilla, dropping hard elbows while Apache stands on Sevilla's neck, and Sevilla's second hits his own great dive down the stretch. The bumps in this are at their best when you can see just how far guys are sliding on the mat after just a normal back bump. At one point Apache slides at least 7 feet after hitting the mat, and it's beautiful. The whole match feels dangerous, as you get the sense that every single movement is just asking for a rolled ankle. The referee refuses to stand in the ring because it's too dangerous, and that danger didn't stop Apache or Sevilla for a second. I love it. One of my favorite occurrences in wrestling history. 

ER: This whole thing starts with a fight between warring clown factions, but I don't think any of them are clown luchadors? As best I can tell, Apache and Sevilla each came to the ring followed by clowns, and the clowns threw frisbees and soccer balls to the fans, and then the clown gangs started kinda hitting and kicking at each other like an extremely confusing take on an FMW vs. Karate Guys steam out. Apache uses the Classic Clown Fight distraction to jump Sevilla, then throw him halfway across the ring with a crazy splash mountain (Sevilla was always a bump god so you know he's a guy who will make a splash mountain look great) then immediately takes the primera with a Michinoku Driver. Everyone in attendance agreed heartily that Sevilla looked awesome getting thrown onto his shoulders in the primera, so Apache throws him with another splash mountain in the segunda, but Sevilla rolls him up tightly on the second driver attempt. Sevilla has great roll ups, really tight and they all look difficult to kick out of, and those are on full display in the tercera. The tercera is also when we get to see Apache's excellent punch display, as well as a fine pescado and a great tope that shoves Oscar into the barricade. Apache gets busted open and while Sevilla isn't a vicious attacker, he does not need to be. Apache's blood projects for him and Sevilla's pinfalls look so convincing that the crowd keeps getting more and more excited to see Apache's head get shaved. I adored Apache's Atlantida, as it lead to a fantastic Sevilla crucifix pin, and again the entire tercera played as a real showcase of how a well executed roll-up can really erase any size difference. Of course Apache gets extra time to Houdini his way out due to Tirantes, but it only makes Sevilla look better. Also, Sevilla's blouse looks like pro wrestling once it's stained with Apache's blood. Sevilla taps Apache with a rings of Saturn, and Tirantes gives Apache such a long time to break out of it that he probably caused Apache permanent shoulder damage. 

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Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Tuesday is French Catch Day: Gueret! Teddy Boy! Chaisne! Corne! Bollet! Wiecz!

George Gueret/Teddy Boy vs. Michel Chaisne/Jacky Corne 7/30/56

MD: Hell of a tag here. Just hard hitting, constant motion and attitude and fire. Guerret and Teddy Boy made for a great team, which Guerret really a proto Harley Race in a lot of ways (even shaved), between his ruggedness and his willingness to bump and stooge. He's just missing the suplexes. Teddy Boy is just a manic creep, constantly getting involved, constantly swiping at his opponents like a bulldog, full of attitude, endlessly dangerous in the corner, a heatseeking machine, but also completely willing to run into a bull charge "Ole" type spot between falls. He'd get tossed out of the ring and immediately run around to try to grab a leg from the outside. Guerret and Teddy Boy absolutely controlled the ring well, pressing their opponents to the corner at every opportunity. Chaisne had the height (which gave him good slams relatively) and could do everything you'd expect a stylist to be able to do, able to go up and over backwards to get out of a hammerlock or hit dropkicks in rope running segments. There was one point where he kept throwing Guerret across the ring and did these pounce-like shoulder blocks again and again. Really, though it's Corn who stands out, like always. He's the best slugfest machine that we have in this footage, and these bad guys deserved to eat forearms. I feel like we haven't seen the spinning toehold much and Corn broke it out here, as well as a sort of Indian Deathlock (the Gagnelock style, with the foot pressing against the knee), and Chasine and Corn locking in tandem leg nelsons whacking their opponents' faces into the mat repeatedly at the same time. Finish was a little confusing to me. Guerret tended to break up falls more than most we've seen and it's possible he might have gotten DQed for doing it too often, but the last image of the match was Teddy Boy bumping hard over the top, so the ref might have just called it after that. The fans didn't care. It ended on a triumphant note with the creep going splat. Just good, fundamentally sound mid 60s French tag wrestling.

PAS: We are really getting a ton of great tags in this period, it almost feels like 60s France was an 80s Crockett level of a tag promotion.  All four of the guys in this match were great, but man alive was Teddy Boy incredible, he really reminded me of Jerry Estrada in both the frequency and insanity of his bumps and the sleaziness of his aura. He just seemed like such a scum bag in the best wrestling way. Corn was also great, he is a super hard hitter along with being skilled and the pop of the exchanges in this match was one of the things that really stood out, all four guys were bringing the heat. I also had no idea what was going on with that finish, but it didn't really dim my enjoyment of the match or anything. Looking forward for more from all of these guys.

MD: Battle between two wrestlers that are about as iconic as you can get in this footage. I've seen hints at it before, but I'm really sure of it now: Wiecz/Carpentier just gets it. He gets it on a level that every other stylist just hadn't figured out. They're all out there having brilliant Catch bouts and he's canny enough to play like a star. He's got his big spots (like the back flip off the top) and he works them in. He milks it before doing them. He'll take a lot of offense but be stoic about it, coming off as tough. Most of all, though, he'll build towards a big moment of comeback, here, a telegraphed block and a comeback punch, that's much more definitive than the ebb and flow we get from almost everyone else. Even a guy like Corn will just fire back but this was set up for the people in the back row and the folks at home. He's also going to break norms; Bollet kept picking him up at 2 to punish him more, so during the comeback, Wiecz would do the same. It's a bit of elaboration you didn't really get as often as you'd expect in the footage so far. Bollet, of course, worked not just for the people in the back row, but for the birds flying above the building, emoting so big that surely they could see him through the roof. When it's time for him to takeover, he's just the meanest swarming striker. When it's time to stooge again, he gets caught in the ropes or lobbed to the floor or trapped in a hold and his face contorts in every shape imaginable. He's good enough to land a great escape, but almost every time he gets immediate comeuppance; he'll then come back by being twice as nasty with chokes or cheapshots though. He's the very best at what he did. The match had a few holds that went a little too long and maybe Wiecz took a little too much of it, but people knew what to expect coming in and I doubt anyone except for fans with the most particular standards would come out of it disappointed. 

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Monday, May 31, 2021

On Brand Segunda Caida: Dustin Leonard

Dustin Leonard vs. Erron Wade NSPW 4/18/21

PAS: This was a lion's den match, and was held outside in an octagon.  It was a pretty cool atmosphere as it felt cold, late at night, at one point a loud train whistle rang out. Wade felt a little out of his depth, had some head kicks, and did get a nice jumping guillotine, but most of the match he was on his back foot as Leonard came forward. Wade ends up bleeding from his eye a bit due to a Leonard knee, and gets caught in a nasty looking cross arm breaker where he hyper extended his elbow. Leonard is such a wave coming over you, no matter what is happening he feels inevitable.

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Sunday, May 30, 2021

Comando Negro Apuestas Matches

Comando Negro has to be the most obscure wrestler to have multiple matches in my book

Buy here

I covered his classic mask matches with El Pollo and Trauma 1 (as Canis Lupus). While checking out his Luchablog entry, I noticed he also had hair vs. mask matches with Segunda Caida favorites Freelance and Chico Che so I tracked them down to review as well.

Comando Negro vs. Freelance IWRG 10/10/10

PAS: This was a a nice mix of highspot heavy lucha with an Arena Naucalpan style bloody brawl. Freelance starts out by headscissoring Negro off of the stage and following up with a stage dive into chairs. He also does a flip dive off the iconic Naucalpan beer cooler, a crazy plancha and a beautiful diving rana to the floor. Negro is a great solid meat and potatoes luchador, catching all of the fancy stuff perfectly and mixing in a great looking bullet tope of his own. Both guys bleed, go face first into beer coolers and chairs, and the finish has Freelance setting up for a top rope rana only to get fouled by Negro's second and powerbombed from the top rope. The tecnicos cut the ref's hair before Freelance get shaved, which seems a bit uncalled for, since he didn't really seem to be heeling much. A slight step below the two Negro all timers,  but it was an excellent apuestas full of cool shit.

Commando Negro vs. Chico Che IWRG 12/9/10

PAS: This was a total war. Che is one of my favorite all time obscure guys, and seeing a new awesome Che performance is a total treat. This match has the inversion of the traditional lucha apuestas formula with technico Che getting the dominant Primera Caida. Che is one of the hardest hitters in lucha, he feels almost like an old WAR wrestler with his combination of chub and thump he puts in every blow, he just moves Negro with ever forearm. Che takes the first fall with a heavy top rope splash and continues in the Second to tour the arena with Negro bouncing him off of beer coolers and chairs. We get some interference by Negro's seconds Gringo Loco and El Hijo Del Diablo, and when Che's seconds Los Cerebros hit double topes on them, Che gets DQed and the Cerebros get bounced to the back by the rudo ref. The third fall has some shenanigans with Loco and Diablo and the heel ref, but it also has some really beautiful moments of lucha, Negro sending Che over the guardrail with a tope, Che returning the favor later with a elbow suicida of his own. Che hitting some amazingly graceful headscissors, the seconds running in and getting pelted with trash by the crowd, and finally Negro cracking Che in the jaw with a fist wrapped in a chain for the win. Great stuff, might have actually squeezed a third Negro match in the book if I had seen it before I wrote it. 

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Saturday, May 29, 2021

NXT UK Worth Watching: OHNO! Imperium! Williams!

WALTER/Fabian Aichner/Marcel Barthel vs. Pete Dunne/Tyler Bate/Trent Seven NXT UK 4/20 (Aired 6/12/19) (Ep. #46)

ER: NXT UK really doesn't do many trios matches, and they have a roster that would really benefit from having some trios matches. I guess they really weren't part of traditional British wrestling (not sure I've ever seen a trios match from World of Sport, but there are a lot of things I've forgotten over the years so who knows), and there have only been a couple so far through 46 episodes of NXT UK. The highest floor NXT UK matches have strong pacing, and it's easier to pace out a trios. This was all really fun and the format made everyone's entrance into the match a little more exciting. A Pete Dunne hot tag is going to be better when he's able to tag in and hit a cool few things before being leveled by WALTER, and Bate is someone else who benefits from a tag that's not immediately stopped so he can get in all his moves. Imperium are good at controlling, sectioning off the ring, keeping things interesting by rotating guys through. WALTER felt like the real standout here, always there to cut someone off with a high kick, and his work with Dunne was especially noteworthy. WALTER is really good at setting up offense for people, and when Dunne tagged in - looking like he was just going to be getting his shit in - I loved how WALTER turned it into a much cooler segment by quickly sidestepping a moonsault and chopping Dunne in the back of his neck before locking in a rear naked. Aichner and Bartel threw themselves into their offense with gusto, like a nice Bartel kneedrop or a killer Aichner brainbuster. WALTER was really great at running things, all members of Mustache got to show off their strengths in quick bursts, with Seven chopping a great watercolor pattern on WALTER's chest, Bate getting a big double clothesline, nice dive from Seven, and then the debut of Alexander Wolfe finishes it. It's a played out way to debut someone, bring them in under a hood while announcers poorly feign confusion, but Wolfe sticks Bate with a nasty sitout powerbomb so I'm good. 

Kassius Ohno vs. Kenny Williams NXT UK 6/14 (Aired 6/19/19) (Ep. #47)

ER: Another great Ohno NXT UK performance, with him always finding ways to restrict himself during matches, always working a match specifically toward his opponent. His NXT UK run really feels like  the closest we can come to a genuine territory arrival. It has a real Finlay Return to the Indies feel to it, and that's a great feeling. Here he starts working over Williams' right arm, holding it clutched in his armpit while refusing to be shaken off. Williams tries to roll him off with an armdrag, Ohno rolls through with him and comes up trapping the same arm. Ohno put on a clinic of handless limb control, bending Williams' arm at the elbow just by moving his body. Just as I'm wondering how Kenny is going to get out of it he leaps up and grabs Ohno in a headscissors, forcing Ohno to rope break. I was wondering where Ohno was going to take the arm control, but instead Williams got cute with a sunset flip attempt and Ohno stomped him right on the underside of the jaw. 

And from then on Ohno does not give one good damn about Williams' arm, just wrecking Kenny with chops and strikes, hard boots, flattens him with a Finlay roll (there's that name again...), and comes up with several cool ways to shove Williams' throat into the ropes. I do think Williams took it down a bit with his comeback, breaking the nice rhythm they had going. There was just a bit too much hesitation with a few of his moves, and Ohno is someone with precise timing. Ohno's sequences are all tightly orchestrated, so it's obvious when Williams is making him wait too long on a mark. It's not super offensive, and he still manages a couple cool things like a multi step ankle pick, and it's mostly a strong pairing. Ohno hits knees on his senton after being too cocky, but I think Williams needed to work quicker than he did. It felt like Ohno had to sell too long for offense that looked like some of Williams' weakest. The worst offender was him doing a sloppy upside down rebound off the ropes (similar to a poor Jon Moxley night) and hitting a too pulled penalty kick after. I mean...he could have just kicked Ohno. He didn't need to navigate a ropes course before kicking him. 

Kenny hits a dive and waits a bit too long to hit a back elbow off the top into the ring, and things immediately get great again when Ohno cuts him off and aims to murder. Williams tries more silly flouncy rope tricks and Ohno rams him throat first into the ropes again, then doesn't waste time smashing him in the back of the head with a roaring elbow while Williams was still hung up in the ropes. These two match up again 9 months from now, in a match I saw before I saw this match. I think their second match is better, but they make a great set as both matches are very different. Ohno could have had unique matches with every member of the UK roster several times through. There's no reason this couldn't be the reality we are living right this moment. 

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Friday, May 28, 2021


Fishman/Espanto Jr./Blue Panther vs. El Hijo Del Santo/Volador/Octagon AAA 5/15/94

MD: My hard drive went kaput, which has been a fight that's been going on for a while, so I lost my initial write up of this. In short, it was a solid lost trios with long entrances and a spirited post-match Panther promo where a lot of stuff hit well and where it moved briskly. There wasn't a pairing that really stood out, but there are things that will stick with me, like Espanto landing on his feet off of an exchange or Volador looking almost inhumanly athletic towards the end or Blue Panther being an absolutely amazing stooge off a quebradora, selling his groin in a spasm all the way across the ring and out to the floor or Santo's lightning crack tope off of an irish whip. The more I see of Fishman from this specific era, the more I think Eric should deep dive on him since he's got a sort of hammering Bestia del Ring vibe to him.

Matt Borne vs. Sabu ACW 11/23/01

MD: Deceptively long video. The match is pretty much what you'd hope it to be and doesn't wear out its welcome. That's because the back half is a pretty manic Borne post 9/11 rant about how he'd die for the crowd and challenging Sabu to come back out (he does, once, but not the six or seven times Borne wants). For the match itself, Sabu does his stuff and Borne is a very game foil. There's crowd brawling that we miss but that we can be assured was solid due to a father in the outskirts putting his kid up on his shoulder to see it, a sure sign of quality. They use weapons liberally but never gratuitously. Borne bleeds big as Sabu stabs at his head. There's a table. It does not break. I'm amazed they could move after that (I'm not really, because I've seen it before, but you know what I mean). Sabu's so good and experienced at this sort of match that he knows exactly when to head out and move things along when Borne can't get it in. Blood, plunder, big bumps, unmitigated violence, a clear finish, and only about ten minutes before the rant begins. Afterwards the camera sticks with Borne as he goes backstage and is told how spectacular it all was.

PAS: I thought this was excellent, it really had the pacing of a great 80s brawl, the kind of thing you might imagine Matt Borne might have had in Mid-South or Portland. It also had Sabu at his unhinged greatness, flying around, stabbing Borne in the head, crashing awkwardly into tables and chairs. Borne kept the whole thing connected, at no point was anyone standing around waiting, or setting stuff off, it always felt like a fight. The crowd brawling really felt chaotic too, they were just flying through the crowd, not seeming to care who they hit. This is easily the best 2000s Sabu match I have seen, and it felt right up there with the top tier Funk, Foley and Sandman stuff. 

Fit Finlay vs. Brodie Lee vs. Joe Gacy 3/16/12-GREAT

MD: Our theme for this week are matches shorter than the video run times as this doesn't go as long as was indicated. Here, though, I could have used a few more minutes, because I liked what we had and I wasn't quite done with it. There was a sort of unique element for a three-way here, where the guy on the floor often operated like a moat monster. If you got too close to Brodie or Finlay on the floor, they'd just pull you right out. It made for a more interesting dynamic than guys laying around and played well into Finlay's ability to use the apron, for instance. Gacy felt like he belonged, with a great jab and willing to bump around for the other two.

PAS: I really liked the way this was organized. I hate three ways normally, but this was less about doing choreographed spots, and more about the third guy being a violent cheap shotter. I mean imagine leaving your back open and giving Finlay a free shot. Or being near the ropes and being pulled out and smacked by Brodie Lee. I am crediting Finlay for the structure, because he is one of the great match architects ever, but whoever called this match was really smart. There are a lot of great little Finlay moments, he blocks a Lee Scorpion attempt by straight punching him in the face, takes his signature top rope bump to the floor and is just constantly killing people. Gacy is by far the least of these three guys, some of his stuff looked good, but some did not, and it seems totally BS to have him go over. That indy Finlay run was one of the coolest things ever, and I am excited we got to see another classic Finlay match. 

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Thursday, May 27, 2021

ICW No Holds Barred Vol 3 - Deathmatch Drive-In 7/4/20

Big Twan Tucker vs. Dominic Garrini

PAS: These two were scheduled to match up on AIW show Mania weekend and was one of my most anticipated matches. I believe these two have a great match in them, although this wasn't it. Being in an opener deathmatch in front of an unfamiliar crowd hurt this match a bit. We had some great moments, Twan is awesome at hot brawling openings to matches and they just went after each other to start with Dom killing him with Kawada kicks to the face. The first big lighttube shot was great with Garrini charging in only to get wasted by a lighttube. The match was hurt with a long set up section where Twan just kind of wandered around setting up tubes and boards while Garrini laid there, these matches really need corner men to do all of the construction. They never really brought the match back under control after that, and it was a lot of big spots with long set ups, so this ended up being a bit of a disappointment with some great individual pieces. 

ER: I actually thought this was pretty great. This had great 90s backyard aesthetics, and Dom had the perfect look of a midwest backyard meathead. He's the friend who works overly stiff and wears shorts to school during cold weather months. Dom kicks the hell out of Twan, really hard kicks to the hamstrings and body, and both guys collect sick downward chops to the side of the neck. Twan took a bunch of real painful big man bumps, like crashing through a table with a sick flapjack, or getting tossed with a couple of strong Dom suplexes. The lighttube shots came off cool and gritty to me, adding that grit for the home stretch and elevating the match for me. Garrini ran headlong into a hard swung lighttube, just one of SO MANY examples we've seen of Garrini being a fearless talented meathead jock; the heavy boy's Darby Allin. The lighttube fight added to the grit and gave Garrini the aura of a cool Canon Group action star. Dom headbutting a lighttube into Twan's head is one of those great deathmatch comp moments. Garrini knows how to come off like a true backyard legend, as you suddenly get no sense whatsoever of his grappling accomplishments. Suddenly Garrini is a Cactus Jack acolyte and you see that in his cocked head as he's taking strikes, or Twan flattening him through a door with Dom as a backpack. It was under 10 minutes and always felt like a kickass yard fight. 

56. Eddie Kingston vs. Bret Ison

PAS: This was Eddie's only pandemic indy match, and was an absolute masterclass at what makes him so special. His pandemic hair and beard looked totally badass and this was a standard match, no chairs or tubes just knuckles and knees. I loved the start of this as they began to exchange shots but Kingston gets popped with an elbow and before he could fire back just crumples to the ground, and the match went like that. Kingston was trying to use his hand speed and guile to stay in the pocket with a heavy hitter, landing these peppering palm strike combos to the head and body,  but he kept getting caught with powerful one shot elbows and punches. Kingston is one of the great strikers in wrestling, but is even better at selling strikes and he does a great job making Ison look like he is beating Eddie to death. I wish Ison was 20% better in this match, he is pretty hit and miss with the force on his shots, sometimes he really nails Kingston, and sometimes the forearms come with a big foot stomp and not much force, also don't think the spinning backfist landed as cleanly as it needed to for it to be the finish. Still this was a heck of Kingston performance, glad to see he has got

ER: Quarantine Kingston with shaggy hair and bed beard is fantastic, the Unabomber Kingston era staggering his way into a fight. How did none of us realize that Kingston would make the greatest Bruiser Brody? Are we so visual that we need to see that shag? Kingston looks like a Puerto Rican Tex Cobb and it's tough to go back to smooth line Kingston after seeing this. It added a mountain man side to his character that has been absent before, made him come off like even more of a regional folk hero. Ison is a big goony Baron Corbin, and he's the kind of guy Kingston can make look like a threat just by selling his chops. Kingston's strike game was so great throughout, pivoting through different muscle memories and strategies, never looking out of his element or desperate, just someone looking to advance any way he can. He makes Ison's strikes look like they matter and lays in his rolling elbow. Kingston leaned into everything and made this feel like a genuine war, and while I wish Ison used his size much more than he does, he's someone that has no problem bashing limbs with wild men like Kingston. It's a pairing with a high floor, with a fired up Kingston performance keeping that floor high as hell. He even works blue afterwards in his folksy Lenny Bruce fireside 4th of July chat. 

Eddy Only vs. Tim Donst

ER: I really liked how this started, with Only cementing himself as the heel by running the crowd down hard, and then getting wrecked by Donst, to the point where I was feeling sympathy for Only and the beating he was taking. Donst didn't really hold back on anything, and there was this stunned look on Only's face when Donst hit him as hard as he could with a plastic fat bat covered in tacks. Getting hit in the side of the head with one of those bats at full strength would hurt enough, but when it leaves dozens of tacks stuck into your head? Only looks at Donst like he can't believe Donst hit him as hard as he possibly could have, and then Donst does it again. Only is getting really battered, suplexed onto the grass, and it's this cool heel in peril with a cold babyface just punishing him. But at some point I am reminded why whatever Tim Donst is supposed to be doing does not work for me. He is so emotionless in the ring that he takes things beyond no selling, as not selling offense tends to at least bring some kind of character. He just acts like a man who is numb to all kind of pain, which could be cool...but if I was every other dude on a deathmatch card with him it would sure as hell he annoying to watch a guy get suplexed multiple times into tacks, crawl hands and knees through tacks, take a back bump off the apron through a board with cut up beer cans, get lighttubes kicked into his face, and sell it all by making a frowny face as if he were being admonished by his parents for missing curfew. I liked what Only brought to this, came off like a guy who was in actual pain while taking some gnarly shots, including getting a barbed wire board avalanched into him. I liked Donst's willingness to be crazy, loved his wild tope, but you have to make these weapons mean something. He is adamantly trying to make them mean less than anyone. 

Eric Ryan vs. Alex Ocean

ER: I'll always go out of my way to watch Eric Ryan matches. He's one of my favorite brawlers and he's one of the greatest bleeders in wrestling history, no hyperbole. This match did not work for me at all, went way too long, and was pretty artless about how they got from A to B to C. However, Ryan bled great. He bled immediately, and it was some great blood. He headbutted a couple of lighttubes into Ocean's head, got color on his own head, and somehow wound up immediately cutting open his entire back. He had this gorgeous collection of streams running down his back that made him look like he was a see through human body vein diagram. There are a lot of painful moments here, but they all run together pretty quickly. It's crazy to me when someone is dragged across the mat through a bunch of broken glass, but there's such a weird focus on selling every single thing the same in a deathmatch. There really needs to be some expressive selling to get across some of this damage. Give me a guy screaming as he's being dragged across broken glass man. The kind of stuff that is more interesting to me is Ryan starting the match with a fork and quickly stabbing Ocean's arm when Ocean goes for a lock up. Ocean snatched the fork away, and Ryan simply grabbed another one out of his pocket. That moment had so much more creativity than just setting up props. The finish of the match sees Ryan attempt to mule kick a couple lighttubes over Ocean's face while holding a single crab, but he keeps missing and just heel kicking Ocean in the face. And guess what? Ocean getting kicked in the face looked more violent than any of the weapon shots. A death match with the brawling as the focus is just going to be better, and this felt like 18 minutes of them picking up and just moving onto the next prop. 

Matthew Justice vs. Casanova Valentine

ER: I dug this match on paper and liked a lot of what they did, I just wish they didn't take 20 minutes to do it. Valentine has maybe my favorite look in deathmatch wrestling, like a gastric bypass Pig Champion, and I love blown out Justice epics. I thought they did a good job at working the deathmatch elements and not just arbitrarily rolling around in wire and glass. There was some build to this, and I liked how Justice hit Casanova's garden weasel out of his hands with a chair to start, instead of jumping right into some weaseling. They took those steps to ramp up their damage and make the eventual weaseling mean a bit more. If you start with Valentine breaking lighttubes over Justice's balls, then where can you go from there? The match is plagued by length and some unnecessary overbooking, with things like Riley Madison and Manders interference not really leading to anything that we couldn't have done without. People want to see Justice jump off high places, and he does that, and it rules. He hits a wild superfly splash off an SUV through a table, and we get to see Valentine really smoosh Justice later with his own big splash. A lot of the weapon stuff comes off kinda weak, as they were following a match that saw every possible weapon and attack you could need from a match, and this was just going to be repeating that. And it didn't help that the finish was a verrrry long time stand still moment of Mancer trying to light some fireworks that were attached to skewers, and the fireworks would not light. So you had poor Valentine kneeling there holding skewers into his own head, eyes fixed on Manders the entire time trying to light the damn things, Justice standing around waiting, and finally Justice calls an audible and just hits Valentine with a chair. I think they could have done what they did in half the time, and a 20 minute match ending with the flattest finish possible is always going to seem more disappointing. 

Matt Tremont vs. Akira

ER: I really didn't like the start of this, as they sat down in chairs right at the bell and did the "barroom punch" spot and threw worked punches at each other. The crowd was the quietest during this than they were all night, so I can't say that it was working for them either. I don't like that spot anyway (although Akira and Mickie Knuckles made it obsolete with their take on it earlier this year), but starting off a match with it, with no build and nowhere to go, makes no sense to me. Tremont throws nice worked punches, but this crowd has seen some uggggly shots on this show, and they are not going to be moved by worked punches. And when Akira puts his hands behind his back and demands Tremont hit him, there isn't any drama in that either, as Tremont had already punched him 10 times without Akira bothering to defend. Some things work, and "some things work" is probably the thing I will find myself writing the most whenever I watch deathmatches. Akira gets that same cool blood streaming down his back that Eric Ryan got earlier, there's a cool battle over Akira trying to get Tremont up for a death valley driver, and Tremont really brains Akira with lighttubes when Akira was attempting a plancha. Akira gets a fairly deep slice under his breastbone from it, could have been a cool thing to build off. But, as with a lot of this, the build just seems scattered at best. 

John Wayne Murdoch vs. Jeff King

ER: I thought this was a fantastic Jeff King performance, one of my favorite individual performances on the show. I am always going to love any wrestler who is referred to as an old timer (unless it's some cutesy fake old man gimmick) and King has had an interesting career. I knew him as a guy who would show up on IWA-MS shows in the 2000s, and then he disappeared for several years, coming back earlier this decade and slowly working himself into the deathmatch scene. He's probably younger than I am, but I love an old timer who is perhaps a fish out of water. Here he takes a furious beating from Murdoch, and every second of the match King felt like a man trying to prove himself to a scene. And at minimum, he certainly proved himself to me. He took a lot of punishment, and I think what makes a deathmatch worker appeal most to me is what their foundation is. I relate far more to the IWA-MS deathmatches because the core IWA style was rooted in southern wrestling. East coast DM style is much more big prop spots with less glue to get to those big moments, but King is a guy who feels more like a Memphis guy and that really works within a deathmatch. He takes big bumps and fills in downtime with nice punches, so there is less building structures and seeking weapons and more of a southern structure in its place. He gets really scared up here and I bought into his horror at the violence, like getting a gusset plate smashed onto his arm and punched into his head. He does a wild tope con giro through a table (Murdoch moved) and there were several moments of him taking an insane bump on missed offense. He hits a disgusting senton through several set up chairs, crushes Murdoch through barbed wire table with a backpack cannonball, and gets dropped through a chair by a Murdoch brainbuster. The finish is basically a botch but far more insane for it, as it's supposed to be a Murdoch superplex through a tubes covered table, but they set the table up WAY too close to the buckles. So, the superplex happens, but King flies PAST the table and Murdoch takes a back bump onto the table and spills off, both guys ending up worse off than if they had both gone through the table. Ugly fight, awesome King performance, and that's exciting for me as I hadn't seen the guy work in probably well over a decade. 

John Wayne Murdoch vs. Nick Gage

ER: It's cool Gage made it out as a way to cap off the show, but I think his power is minimized a lot by showing up at the end of a show where every single match had one of the guys essentially "doing" Nick Gage. These are all going to be bloody fights, and by the time we get to the main event of these shows we have seen EVERYTHING. So even though Gage and Murdoch have the best "sitting in chairs while punching face" sequence on the show, it is also the third time we have seen that routine. Gage has charisma that brings a higher floor into his matches, and the energy he brings to a crowd is undeniable. He and Murdoch punch each other in the face, and I loved how Gage geared up, took a lot of shots, kicked his chair away and flew into Murdoch with a diving elbow. Both guys took some disgusting shots, like Gage getting thrown through a sliced cans board, and plenty of ugly bumps through chairs. Murdoch wins with a brainbuster on a bent to hell chair, which was sick and looked like something that should definitely finish a match. And, it did finish a match, literally right before this match. And that's kind the problem with shows like this. Even with an appropriate number of matches, it is incredibly hard to still WOW a viewer at the end of a show like this. We all learned that a long time ago, the best matches of a deathmatch tournament are almost always 1st round matches, and on a show like this where everyone is using mostly the same props you're going to see even more of the ideas being used up halfway through. A match like this would have played far better as the main event of a normal wrestling show, but this is the kind of match that drew a nice crowd so more power to these lunatics. 


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Wednesday, May 26, 2021


King Kong Bundy vs. Andre the Giant WWF 9/23/85 - GREAT

ER: The Colossal Jostle!! How have I gone this long in my life without knowing that there was a match between two huge men and it was billed as the Colossal Jostle!! This had to been the main draw on an MSG show that did 18,000 people but is a lackluster show on paper. No title matches, a 3 minute JYD/Funk match on top, and yet here's the Colossal Jostle early in the evening. The crowd is loud and hostile for this jostle, and it really felt like a true clash of the titans. A month earlier they did an angle where Studd and Bundy beat down Andre to end an Andre/Studd singles, sent the man out on a stretcher, and then Andre went on a New Japan tour for a month. This was his first match since returning from that beatdown (Japan), and an excellent example of the all time great in-ring acting of Andre. 

Within seconds he is strangling Bundy in the corner and Andre's facials are the best. Bundy throws some big clubbing arms, but Andre is all about huge chops and headbutts and covering Bundy's entire neck and face with his hands. There's even this wild moment where Andre uses his forearms to block two Bundy swinging arm strikes and then throws two of the biggest chops I've seen. 

Now, this whole thing was shaping up to be one of the great 80s Andre singles matches, but right in the middle is Andre holding a long headscissors armbar. It's a long stretch and positions don't change a lot, and it's a real tonal shift for the match. However, it's also undeniably fascinating to watch Andre work an armbar while Bundy is doing whatever he can to budge Andre and make the ropes. They say everyone's the same size on the mat, but imagine Andre holding your head with his legs while he pulls on your arm! Think of the weight and strength required to hold a man as large as Bundy down to the mat! It's a long hold, but I found it pretty interesting. Andre even rolled Bundy onto his stomach, so at one point he was holding it almost like a crossface, very cool visual. 

Once out, Bundy bumps real big for Andre, doing an incredible backwards fall through the ropes and out past the apron, splatting with a back bump to the floor to sell a headbutt. When Bundy makes it back into the ring, Andre is laughing that playful, sinister laugh, like a cartoon cat cornering a mouse. Andre's acting during Bundy's comeback was excellent, making it impossible not to buy into Bundy's chokes and kicks, truly one of the best at making body pain palpable. Andre gets the boots up on a corner charge and hits a bombs away, but Studd runs in and we get a welcome back beatdown. This was a really great 1985 feud, something that would have played incredibly hot in any territory. 


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Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Tuesday is French Catch Day: Rene Ben! Cesca! Tejero! Zapata! Kramer! Dukan

Rene Ben Chemoul/Gilbert Cesca vs Anton Tejero/Pancho Zapata 7/18/65

MD: Incredibly entertaining 30 minutes here. This is one of those matches I'd feel good about showing people new to the style. By this point, Ben Chemoul and Cesca were a well oiled machine. I'll admit to Ben Chemoul's act getting a little old. They introduce a number of new spots but you still get a bunch you've seen a lot and a little of him can go a long way. Cesca is the perfect mix of style and substance, on the other hand. The first fall had a lot of quick tags by the stylists, lots of stooging and feeding by Zapata (our old friend La Barba) and Tejano. I'd say this was the first time we really saw quick shine-like tags to this degree in the chronological footage but we've been moving and more to heels utilizing ref distractions and that was in full force. While Zapata was a brilliant stooge and vicious when he had the opportunity, it was Tejano who was just incessant, constantly going for the eyes or body shots and making the ref move back and forth as they kept a corner onslaught going. They got real heat (and some trash thrown in) but the fans seemed like they were as entertained as anything else. The transitions felt almost luchaesque here, with tags not mattering so much when the heels were in control and things building to a moment of comeback, in this case a nice little spot with Ben Chemoul kicking his way out of a hanging backslide/punch double team. The third fall was full of big complicated spots including one that ended with stereo missile dropkicks which was probably as complex as anything we've seen. It ended on a high note and everyone went home happy (save for Zapata and Tejano at least).

PAS: These Chemoul/Cesca tags are uniformly excellent, they are Rock and Roll Expressish when in comes to consistent match quality. Zapata and Tejero are tremendous foils, they are listed from Mexico and they come off like an all time rudo tag team, eating all of the fancy Cesca and Chemoul ranas perfectly, tying themselves up into ropes and utter capitulating themselves over the top rope rope. Tejero is one of the great out of the ring bumpers ever, and Zapata matches him. I enjoyed how many different ways the technico squad could time up Zapata and Tejero in the ropes. I could have used a bit more drama in the final run to extend this match to the top tier of French Catch, but man was this fun stuff. 

SR: 2/3 falls match going about 30 minutes. Pancho Zapata, what a name. Apparently, he‘s Joachim la Barba, so it‘s nice to see him again. This was another French formula tag and one of the finest entries in the genre so far. At this point you have to ask if the South Americans are actually better than the French guys. They had no problem going along with all the technical moves, then looking despicable while kicking the French guys asses, and finally bumping like maniacs, stooging and getting their own asses kicked in a big way. And Ben Chemoul and Cesca are just really reliable workhorses. At one point it seems Chemoul got a small cut in his face and Tejero does some really nasty work trying to squeeze more blood out of him. Zapata looked subdued compared to his really violent 50s performances but he had some cool headbutts and the biggest bump of the match diving off the top into nothing, and later just suicide diving into a ringside table. I also dug the knee lifts to the back. Chemoul and Cesca looked great throwing punch combos in the second half. Double missile dropkick sequence was pretty insane. It ended a bit light hearted considering things seemed to get intense in the middle of this, but these matches are so straightforwardly fun and enjoyable that that is a very very minor nitpick.

Juan Botana vs Viarmeck Wizuk 7/25/65

MD: We lose the first ten minutes of this and get the last eight and a half and that's a shame, because what we get is pretty great. They just go at it here, Wizuk rugged and hard-hitting and good at playing to the crowd and Botana wild and stooging and relentless, able to sneak in a cheapshot from his knees to retake control again and again. This had the best leg nelson we've seen in forever, with Wizuk rolling around the ring and then really stretching with it. Botana had to bite to get out. They kept building to trading hard shots with one another, with Botana not at all afraid to bump big for Wizuk. It's a shame we don't have more of these two in the footage.    

Karl von Kramer vs Gass Dukan 7/25/65

MD: Von Kramer looked like the best wrestler in the world on this night. Doukhan was Israeli and according to the announcer, spent half the year in Tel Aviv and half in Paris. He's a natural opponent for Von Kramer, and he could both hang with the matwork and be fiery when necessary, while keeping a sharp patina of being an absolute sportsman (he wanted to shake hands at the start and at the end despite it all, and there was a lot of it). This was some brilliant stuff, with every exchange having one or two extra wrinkles, or really, just never stopping in its folding. There were wristlocks which just didn't stop. Von Kramer kept trying to roll through and Doukhan kept rolling through himself or rolling von Kramer back. Von Kramer had a dozen interesting ways to take a guy down and five or six interesting ways to grind him. They started the match with a series of front facelocks reversed into arm whips, until von Kramer turned the last reversal into a dragon sleeper which Doukhan used a knee shot to get out of. The entire match was like that. Von Kramer had some takedowns he went back to again and again, like a headlock with a knee to take Doukhan over or this inner reverse gutwrench especially, until late in the match, Doukhan jammed it with a backbreaker. Von Kramer stooged up and down for Doukhan and the fans loved every second of it, but he never lost his credibility. He stayed mostly stoic, selling the indignity of it, occasionally losing his cool (and it mattered all the more when he did due to the stoicism) but going right back to the attack. He was able to give a ton but able to get a credible takedown at any moment; the fans still ooh'ed when he locked in the nerve hold because they knew just how dangerous the guy was. You got the sense that the match wasn't heading to a clean finish because it would have been pretty bad form to put the German over clean, but he also felt like a mountain that Doukhan shouldn't entirely overcome, so it ended with Von Kramer really losing his cool and creatively choking the hell out of him in the ropes for the DQ and, of course, Doukhan getting his shots in post match. Von Kramer was really an exceptional pro wrestler and we're lucky to get to see him go all out with a game Israeli in 1965 France.

PAS: This wasn't the violent brawl you would expect from an Israeli versus a German with a Swastika on his robe in 1965. I mean Doukhan had to have lost family in the holocaust, I wanted this to be more Munich then gentleman's arm drag exchanges. They were really nice armdrags though I really liked how Doukhan would roll through and stay connected to throw an arm drag of his own. I really liked von Kramers contemptuous takeovers, he would toss him with real disdain. I did like how we got some really heated fighting at the end, with Doukhan taking some revenge for his people by choking out Von Kramer with a belt.

SR: 1 fall match going about 20 minutes. I am happy we get another Von Kramer singles match, and against a fun athletic technician like Doukhan nonetheless! This was a more WoS like match. Lots of fun technical wrestling, and unpredictable bumping from von Kramer. It was a bit light hearted considering this was an Israeli wrestler taking on an evil German guy, but Doukhan kept coming up with cool stuff you don‘t expect (even after seeing a lot of unexpected stuff in this footage) including a freakish lucha armdrag and it was a really good glimpse at what a typical night of work looked like for these guys. Kramer gets himself dq‘d in a lame ending but we get Doukhan throwing him around a bit after the match.

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