Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D, Sebastian, and other friends write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Monday, May 27, 2024

AEW Five Fingers of Death 5/20 - 5/26 Part 2

AEW Collision 5/25/24

Bryan Danielson/FTR vs Jeff Jarrett/Jay Lethal/Satnam Singh

MD: I thought about skipping this because I already said everything that needed to be said for the Dynamite singles match. I thought about just mentioning how great the commercial break was with Satnam doing damage while Jarrett and Jay (and Karen) sat on chairs on the outside and Nigel had a great one-liner about how he never called Tony "Whipped him into the ropes" as that would be silly. I thought about just noting that I'll write five-thousand words if they ever give us a Jarrett vs Danielson singles match. But this was really good. I don't need to say too much about it, but it was really good. You had Danielson getting one upped by Jarrett early and then instead of it working into a shine where the heel gets his comeuppance, it not playing out until the end. You had Satnam showing how dangerous he could and should be by just reaching over and cutting off Dax's shine and draping him over the top; it's as easy as that. You have the protection of Satnam by him not doing all of his big spots every match. He didn't do the body press here. He did do the head-dribbling; he hadn't done that in the Danielson match. That's a huge failing of modern wrestling, the Andrade Effect. Andrade's double moonsault should happen one out of five, maybe even ten matches. He should hit the moonsault most matches and only do the double one on the rare occasion that someone is going to organically roll out of the way. It's 2024 here. We're not all so bull-headed that we're trying to power bomb kidman when we've never done a power bomb in a life. I know that Ric Flair felt like he needed to get all of his signature stuff in because he would have been disappointed if Ray Stevens didn't, but it's better to draw the crowd into something immersive than just give them rote ritual. Don't do anything for the sake of doing it. If Satnam has a number of physically amazing spots, the fans will appreciate seeing the one or two that they actually got to see that sometimes others didn't get to see, as opposed to everyone always getting to see all of them.

Where was I? Oh yeah, Danielson vs Jarrett. Jarrett feeding for Danielson's stuff was so great, just the way he'd slam his whole body back and forth in response. I hated that they were doing the quick camera cuts on Danielson's dropkicks. It's Danielson and Jarrett! We're not talking someone from the Nightmare Factory who only has 40 matches under their belt (and those people will get there but at least then I get the impulse, right?). Don't do the camera cut and rob me of the chance to see Jeff Jarrett respond and react to Danielson flying at him! It'll be ok. I trust them. They trust each other. Production guy who will never, ever read this; please trust them too.

So yeah, this was good. In this case, it was even better at 15 minutes than it would have been at twenty five and it gave them so much to go back to. I just hope there's time to before it's all said and done.

AEW Double or Nothing 2024 5/26/24

Anarchy in the Arena

MD: There's no way to talk about any of these matches coherently. So let me tell a story instead. I caught this the morning after but hadn't been spoiled. Kind of weird thing happened midway through, though. My 11 year old woke up. One of the firm and fast rules of pro wrestling in the household is that it never gets in the way of my family life. I've told this story before but I basically moved in with my then five-year old stepson the same month of the Benoit incident and it was very informative on how much wrestling I have the kids consume. My main feeling is that if they came across it on their own and took an interest, great, I'd show them stuff. Otherwise, there was a firm line. I don't necessarily hide it from any of them, but I usually do stop watching if they come around and want to do something. But she was up early and I wanted to see the end of the match so I tossed her a headphone and we watched the back half together.

I'm not saying this was absolutely her first match ever, but she really doesn't have a working knowledge of the tropes, even if she great at English and has a strong sense of fiction in general. We came in at the point where all of the babyfaces were put through tables which built to the fire spot. And I have to admit, it was pretty tough. I had to explain why they set up the table instead of just laying someone on and jumping on them. Thankfully pro wrestling logic more or less works out. More importantly, I had to explain why everyone was bloody right at the get go. The first time she saw Dax or Danielson, she let out a "Ohhh!" in shock, and then was even more so when I explained how that happened and she was aghast and wanted to know why anyone would do that, to which I reminded her that the second she saw it, she went "Ohhh!" She was more shocked by the fire spot as you can imagine. But she didn't get how he was able to recover and come back later. In general, I repeated, multiple times, that this is the sort of thing they only do once a year.

The nicest thing I can say is that overall, I was able to explain the way causality and consequence worked here. Once Darby got tied up, even as his partners tried to save him, there was a sense that he just had to end up hanging up. It was inevitable. Once upon a time, the sheer threat of it would have been enough, and it would have been like knights saving a princess from a tower before a dragon devoured them. Now, the fans demand to see the dragon devour the princess, even if he spits her out later. But the idea of the Bucks' shoes ending up in Danielson's hands made total sense to her. That sense of hubris and comeuppance is universal. The heels did something that was dangerous but also the height of vanity and it backfired upon them. That sort of thing is primal. All of that is to say that the match mostly held together. If anything, you could be annoyed as a viewer that Perry was able to come back in and even get the win but you're sort of supposed to be annoyed by that, so long as he ultimately gets his comeuppance later on. But still, it would have been better if something like that could have mattered more. But you could say that about almost everything on the card, right?

I did go back to show her the beginning again, because she likes Final Countdown and I thought she'd get a kick out of it. That meant I had to explain why Perry was the Scapegoat so that was another headache. The match was full of things (fire, exploding weapons, gimmicked shoes, the music) that all were callbacks; it's very true that this drained some of the organic sense of violence of it all and the next time they run something like this it needs to be raw. At times it felt more like the Jarrett vs Briscoe Concession Stand Brawl (a WWE style food fight) than, let's say Mad Dog vs Demus. Next time they run this, they should be sure everyone is expecting the former and lean hard with the latter. Some of the individual moments were transcendent though, most especially some of the things Darby let happen to him and the two big musical moments: Darby hitting the coffin drop right as the words hit and the shot of Danielson reveling in it all with the wide shot. Still, it's best to remind yourself that it only happens once a year, give or take Stadium Stampede. It just means that the rest of the year should try harder to be like the two Satnam matches and define a baseline of meaning so that the rare match like this can play off of it. Anyway, right after this we watched To Catch a Thief together and that was a more wholesome family experience.

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Sunday, May 26, 2024

2023 Ongoing MOTY List: Eddie vs. Komander

 

13. Eddie Kingston vs. Komander AEW Collision 10/7

ER: I really love the Eddie Kingston King's Road era, and I think it's partly because I'm happy that Kingston got to last long enough in pro wrestling to have the clout to do a King's Road era. A lot of us are of the age where we backyarded (or cleared space in the All Japan matches we didn't understand, and Kingston is a tape trader who lasted long enough to get to do it well. I love what he does, I love his influences, and I love the way his influences are represented. It's so cool that Kingston lasted long enough to be a Dream Match Wrestler they want to put in styles clashes. Kingston came up on this. I go stretches of not thinking about Eddie Kingston as a Chikara Original because he's so obviously spiritually aligned with 2001 Jersey All Pro. I laugh my ass off thinking about Eddie Kingston now - my favorite wrestler to watch on TV if Darby Allin wasn't on that episode of TV - working Komander, because 20+ years later Kingston just gets to wrestle the best possible version of Jolly Roger. We've seen a lot of Kings Road and puro Kingston, and it just feels good to see him have a really great Chikara Kingston match. AEW's roster is filled with the best of the Chikara Guys Who Made It Through, like Orange Cassidy, Claudio, Evil Uno, and plenty of good or even great guys who would have been Chikara Guys, like Dante and Darius Martin or Komander. I'm saying, there is a shocking amount of Chikara influence all over AEW TV, in a way that tightens the match quality and drops almost all of the constant Sex Pest vibes. 

This was different than a lot of my favorite Eddie matches of the last several years, because this is the first time in ages I went in knowing Eddie was going to win. I knew it would be a fun match, I knew Eddie was going to give Komander a fun match, and I knew Kingston was winning. What took my fandom of Kingston to the next level several years ago was when he just became a guy I actually wanted to win. He is great at losing but he is fun at winning, but there is always strife and always a fight. This match promised no Real fight, just fun, and it was a real great version of that match. I like Komander, and he was ON here. Not only did his flying look great - that torpedo dive over the corner with the perfect Eddie catch, or that in-ring tornillo that hit video game flush - but I was surprised at how good he looked in a style clash strike exchange. I knew it was going to be fun when Kingston hit a little guy, but I forget that Eddie is maybe even better at selling for little guys' strikes as he is going to war with a guy who can actually hit harder that he. But he was so good at getting in front of Komander's flurries, great at missing his shots, great at hitting his shots. When Komander chopped him and Kingston made a fun loud sound like they both knew he caught Komander fucking up, it made every chop after that excited OOO sound even better. I don't think Kingston ever caught luchadors - real or fake - better in Chikara than he did here, and Komander would have been a top 20 guy in Chikara, so the fact everything hit so well here thrilled me. Eddie Kingston, knowing he was going to win, laughing at Komander and getting surprised by Komander, 10 minutes fucking flat. One of those matches where you can be proud of 2002 indy wrestling's modern influence, which is one of the main things that AEW has been so good at delivering. 


2023 MOTY MASTER LIST


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Saturday, May 25, 2024

AEW Five Fingers of Death 5/20 - 5/26 Part 1


AEW Dynamite 5/22

Bryan Danielson vs. Satnam Singh

If there is an art to this thing called pro wrestling that we all love, it is this: creating the biggest emotional impact by doing as little as possible. That does not necessarily mean that one should never do anything and it doesn’t even mean that one should never do much. It means instead that every bit of effort should maximize the amount of possible impact. Whatever a wrestler does should carry with it the greatest possible impact in the moment, done in a way and at a time to create the greatest possible impact as part of a greater whole. And in order to achieve that, one should likely do as little as possible at each point, so as to increase the value of increased effort when it is most impactful. Pro wrestling is manipulation. Pro wrestling is conditioning an audience. It's using every tool imaginable to move hearts and minds relative to the needs of the moment and the match and the card. If you do more, it should matter more. It should be the means and not the end. Getting this wrong devalues every individual action for everyone and unbalances the possibilities of pro wrestling. Getting this right over time can create possibilities so that when escalation occurs (even and especially at times where it is not expected if done sparingly), it blows minds and sends an audience into a meaningful, mindful, focused, driven fervor, where they are not chanting for sensation and to hear their own voice but instead towards a purpose and narrative destination.

It's about using every emotional hook at one's disposal, everything with inherent value. That could be a geographic connection with a crowd, or a personal story that resonates with people, an injury, a difference in hierarchy or age, sheer athleticism used smartly, or an angle or storyline. It could be anything under the sun natural or contrived that can be used in lieu of action for the sake of action.

And yes, it can most certainly be the sheer existence of a towering giant. Giants are to be protected. Everything is to be protected in its own way (why? so you can cash in on that value when it matters and so that you can establish a meaningful baseline so that everything can matter in its own way; nothing for the sake of itself and everything with purpose!). Satnam especially should be protected. He's a legitimate giant in an industry that's shrunk over the last two decades with the right voices in his ear and as much agility as anyone his size ever. If we learned anything from the journey of Paul Wight, it's that hours of weekly primetime TV with featured matches devalues everything and everyone, but AEW with its cycled roster allows for someone like Satnam to be an attraction and to be special.

I've mentioned this before, but I learned so much from watching 89 Andre. He was mostly immobile and had lost much of his physical strength due to his injuries, but he was still a giant, in some ways even more so than he had been fifteen years earlier, for now he was wide and not just tall. He was one of the world's most famous wrestlers, a legend in his own enormous boots. He was considered a force of nature, and so long as he was treated that way by the other wrestlers and so long as he could leverage his own amazing instincts on when and how to act and when not to, his presence could be leveraged in the most amazing ways. He could accomplish more with a small move of his arm or an emanated sound and grimace than almost any other wrestler in history could do with a half dozen moves strung together.

Satnam has shown up on Dark or Rampage or ROH or a pre-show. We've got a match or two from a house show on tape. But generally, he's been used sparingly. In a world without Dark, it's tough because he needs reps too, and you can't move him from territory to territory. But he has been treated, if not as an attraction, then as someone used carefully. This was his biggest spotlight so far and it was against someone who knew how to make the most out of both the least and the most.

Here, that meant standing face to chest with Satnam to let the image burn into people's minds. It meant coming in with a gameplan of kicks in the best Inoki fashion only to get shoved away with ease. It meant letting things sink in with the chop in the corner and the stalling delayed vertical suplex. Satnam should take his time, should control the pace, should create a heavy, imposing atmosphere and here he did. At the same time, there was no need to rush right to the chokeslam on the apron when it's already established how deadly Satnam shoving Danielson away or tossing him into the stairs was. Teasing it was enough. Instead, with the accidental break of the table as either a planned spot or an inadvertent distraction, Danielson was able to get a few big jumping knees in. Satnam staggered but didn't fall. Then, when Satnam cut him off and did hit the chokeslam on the apron, it meant all the more for the build.

They moved into the finish with Danielson getting the low blow and using multiple knees to take Satnam down. Low blows aren't done every match or done right in front of the ref. They're protected and because they're protected, Satnam was protected by the tide turning because of one. It taking multiple knees to drop him didn't hurt either the knees or Satnam and in some ways helped both. And then Satnam was protected from the tap. Danielson had found a way, as the best in the world should. Satnam was shown to be a monstrous threat that could do damage to anyone at any moment and that couldn't be overcome cleanly. If they ever ran it back, people would be prepared for Danielson to have a nearly impossible hill to climb. And the storyline progressed towards the pay per view.

So much has been devalued over the years due to a penchant for excess, slavish devotion to sensation for the sake of sensation, and the burdens of weekly big match TV, so that any chance to restore weight of meaning like this should be lauded and appreciated. Wrestling can be this still. It can be this again! It’s not a lost art. It’s right there, just waiting for people to embrace it once more. The things that worked in the past worked for a reason and that reason lives in all of our hearts. The evidence is right here. People just need to reach out and rediscover the possibilities. Wrestlers have to stop working with us, stop working for us, and start working us again. A match like this can light the way.


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Found Footage Friday: SWEETAN~! TAKADA~! VIERNES 13~! CRUZ~! BANDA~! SHARON~! WOLFIE~! ROGERS~!


Bob Sweetan vs Nobuhiko Takada NJPW 4/11/84

MD: This was a fun underdog Takada match that came in around eight minutes. He wasn't fully formed yet. He'd be positioned as a junior even deep into 87 and this was pre-UWF but he was plucky and chippy, combining some of the junior stuff you'd expect from 84 NJPW like the headlock into a twisting drop toe hold and a body press with some kicks and punches and a nice back elbow that hit when I was expecting his spin kick. Sweetan was as solid as could be, every blow a thudding, imposing thing, be it a clubber or an elbow drop or a slam. Late in the match, Takada fought his way out of a pile driver attempt and got the crowd behind him and Sweetan gave him a bit of a comeback right until the fans stopped chanting; then he shut him down quickly and planted him on his head. A weird match up on paper but it worked because Takada got just the right amount for it to stay interesting. 


Babe Sharon/Milo Caballero/Viernes 13 vs Remo Banda/Javier Cruz/Rino Castro CMLL 1989

MD: This takes me, finally, to the end of the first wave of Roy's Monterrey uploads. What a road it's been. More to come as there's a second and maybe even third wave of these uploads. This gives us a first look at Rino Castro and Viernes 13. Castro was a local in the style of Super Porky, just a big tecnico with funny expressions, a finish where he just sits down on his opponent, and the ability to move better than you'd expect in exchanges. Viernes 13 is, yes, working a Jason gimmick, with the hockey mask and a great logo of a bloody axe on his chest. He was pretty clunky at times, not seeming at the right place at the right time, but fed okay at times. The idea that people would just punch his hockey mask and he'd sell it normally and their hand would be ok was a bit weird.

Everyone else looked good though. Babe Sharon was an always-on exotico (who came out with a turban and poofy robe) with a reaction to everything and a bunch of paintbrushing strikes, plush a finishing sequence of just running someone over with weirdly angled shots like an exotico Ultimate Warrior (just with a flip senton to end it). Remo Banda, being Volador Sr./Super Parka, of course, looked great in some of the exchanges, including a flip over armdrag I had to go back and watch three times, not to mention a huge dive on Viernes. Milo and Cruz played their role fine even if nothing stood out. Structure here was straightforward, with exchanges in the primera, a beatdown in the segunda (including a fun double headstand anklelock deal on Cruz to end it) and then cycling through after the comeback. Not a ton of drama here but some entertainment for sure. It's a shame we don't have much more Castro as I'd be curious to see him in other matches.



Wolfie D vs Tommy Rogers MECW 2/13/00

MD: Nice little five minute TV match palette cleanser. Les Thatcher and Dutch Mantell were on commentary.Rogers looked like he could be a solid mid card act in AWF a couple of years prior or XWF a year or two after. They wrestled this clean with a lot of nice looking chain wrestling. Basic stuff done well for the most part. Wolfie took over mid match with the nicest floatover DDT you'll see and then followed it up by immediately cutting off Rogers with another one. Rogers was able to twist back out of the corner for a pin out of nowhere though. Post match, Wolfie finally let the character shine through and cheapshotted Rogers before opening him up with the trash can lid and pedigreeing him on the lid. Presumably this led to a really good live show match but it was a different sort of look at Wolfie than what we normally got at least.


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Thursday, May 23, 2024

El Deporte de las Mil Emociones: Springtime in CSP

Week 24: Springtime in CSP

EB: One of the main challenges of doing this journey through Puerto Rican wrestling is that we are covering a period where we usually have a dearth of results and/or footage to help inform the rivalries and wrestlers that are appearing in this time period we are covering. The late 1989 to first half of 1990 in particular is a time period where we tend to lack information. Matt and I have done our best in piecing together what we have found (both footage wise and results wise) but this is still a bit of a dark period. April 1990 is definitely a month where this lack of information is notable, so we’ll try to piece together as best as we can how things are progressing in CSP as Spring gets into full swing. The best way to try to cover the goings on is by reviewing the status of the titles and their current feuds.

Let’s begin first with the World Junior title, where ‘Tough Guy’ Eddie Watts has been the World Junior champion since the end of January. After initially winning the title from Super Medico #1, for the past couple of months, Watts has held back the challenge of Huracan Castillo Jr. and Joe Savoldi. More recently, Watts has had a few matches with Invader #4, but his main challengers are still Castillo and Savoldi. And while Watts has been able to hold onto the title so far, his luck is about to run out. According to the title’s history, Huracan Castillo Jr. was able to defeat Eddie Watts for the World Junior title on April 21.   

Although we will still see a bit more of Eddie Watts, we do have to say goodbye to Joe Savoldi, whose most recent semi-regular run wraps up in April. Before saying goodbye to Savoldi, let’s watch him in action against two opponents. First, a non-title TV match against Eddie Watts, and then a bonus match against Chicky Starr.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFQEIcaxjjY

We join the match in progress as Watts has Savoldi on the mat and applies a spinning toe hold. Chicky Starr as usual is at ringside for Watts. Eliud Gonzalez is on commentary, and he makes sure to point out how effective Eddie’s repeated toeholds are on damaging Savoldi’s knee and leg. Watts keeps focusing his attack on Savoldi’s left leg, but Savoldi eventually is able to kick Watts away and flip him over off the ropes. Watts and Savoldi get into a blow exchange, one that it looks like Savoldi is winning. However, Watts sweeps Joe’s leg and sends Savoldi to the mat. Eddie follows up with an ankle twist and then stomps on Savoldi’s leg after placing it on the bottom rope. Watts takes too long jawing at the crowd and Savoldi counters a leg hold with an enziguri. Savoldi mounts a comeback but is showing the effects of the hurt leg. Savoldi works over Eddie’s right leg by ramming it a few times into the ringpost. Both men fight on the outside but Savoldi manages to throw Watts back into the ring. Watts begs off but is able to throw Savoldi through the ropes. However, Savoldi surprises Watts on the apron with a sunset flip back into the ring and is able to score a three count for the win! Savoldi may have not been able to defeat Watts for the World Junior title, but he was still able to score a clean win over Watts.

MD: This is JIP with Watts doing damage to Savoldi’s leg to start. Savoldi does a good job selling it on the comeback, using punches and other things instead of his usual start-of-the-90s junior offense. Watts tries to take a powder but Savoldi chases him down, drops the selling and hits a sunset flip into the ring to win. 

EB: As a bonus, let’s also watch footage of a Savoldi vs Chicky Starr match. We’re not sure if this match is from 1989 or 1990, but it gives us another chance to see Chicky in singles action.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2iX53MgPnWc

Another match joined in progress, as both men briefly lock up but Chicky quickly gains the advantage with some blows. Savoldi fires back with a few haymakers and hits a backdrop on Chicky, who quickly decides to roll outside to regroup. Chicky takes his time getting back into the ring and once again gains the advantage with a low blow on Savoldi. Chicky starts hobbling around, complaining that he has a bad knee, but continues attacking the downed Savoldi with several kicks and knee strikes (including using his supposedly injured knee). Chicky remains in control for a couple of minutes, hiding some illegal punches from the ref’s view and taunting the crowd as he maintains control while adjusting his knee pad every so often. Chicky attempts a cover after a slam but Savoldi quickly kicks out. Savoldi fires off a few punches and seems to gain control, backing Chicky into the corner with some kicks. Savoldi hits a monkey flip on Chicky and the tide has definitely turned in Savoldi’s favor. Joe goes on the attack, including chasing Chicky around the ring, and continues with the advantage with several punches and kicks. A punch knocks Chicky through the ropes to the outside, and Savoldi gives chase. However, Chicky appears to reach into his tights as he ambles around the ring,  and when Savoldi tries to chase after him back into the ring, Chicky catches Joe with a loaded punch. Savoldi falls to the mat and Chicky quickly covers for the pinfall win. A not so clean victory for Chicky Starr.

MD: Pretty complete in seven minutes or so. Maybe a little JIP. Chicky eats some shine work until he uses the loaded kneepad (that rare weapon) to throw a bunch of shots into Savoldi’s guts. Joe eventually comes back with monkey flips and a running knee into the corner of his own and Chicky takes a great bump through the ropes. On the floor, though, he pulls out yet another object, this time the knucks and catches Savoldi back in the ring after he gives chase for the win. It makes sense if Chicky’s being pushed as a tag champ (or about to be depending on this was filmed) that he can still get one over, dirty, on a Jr. Heavyweight.

EB: Let’s talk briefly about the other singles title holders. March was a turbulent month for the Universal title, with two title changes occurring in the month. TNT lost the Universal title to Abdullah the Butcher, who in turn lost it to Carlos Colon to end the month. TNT was not happy about losing the Universal title, and beside that unexpected match vs Saito on TV, would soon find himself enveloped in a feud with Rick Valentine (another member of El Club Deportivo). Let’s go to a brief clip from the ending of a recent TNT vs Valentine match.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXgoZV2IrH0 

Hugo narrates the clip, mentioning that both men are on the outside and bleeding. We cut to both TNT and Valentine on their knees and exchanging blows, with both men notably bleeding from their foreheads. We then cut to later in the match, where both men get to their feet and trade blows once more. TNT is able to get the better of this exchange and is able to knock Valentien down with a headbutt. Valentine kicks out of a pin attempt and TNT fires off a few chops in the corner. TNT whips Valentine across the ring but runs into Valentine’s knees when attempting to follow through. Valentine takes advantage and quickly pins TNT, placing his legs on the ropes for leverage and scoring the three count. Valentine steals the win as Hugo mentions that blood has been spilled and TNT is going to be looking for revenge.

MD: This is clipped in a way that we don’t usually see in this footage. We just get snippets of it for a minute or so. What we do get to see is mainly bloody brawling with both of them on their knees throwing shots though. It looks really good and this is one that I wish we had in full, even if on paper, you might not expect much of it. Valentine gets the crooked win by putting his feet on the ropes after a double leg in the corner. 

EB: TNT would continue feuding with Valentine into the beginning of May, but he would not remain without a title for much longer, as at the April 25 tv tapings TNT would regain the TV title he never lost (he had vacated the title when he won the Universal title) by defeating Leo Burke. That’s now two titles El Club Deportivo has lost as the end of April approaches. Of the remaining singles titles, two are in the hands of El Ejercito de la justicia (Colon has the Universal title and Invader #1 has the Caribbean title), while the Puerto Rico title is still held by the injured Manny Fernandez (although the title’s status may soon change since it seems Manny is not returning).

We’ll talk soon about the Universal title, but first let’s look at the tag scene. As mentioned in our previous installment, the end of March saw both tag titles switch hands, with the Super Medicos winning the World tag team titles and Chicky Starr & Leo Burke winning the Caribbean tag titles from the Invaders. Let’s first review the Caribbean tag title feud that began at the end of March.

Chicky and Burke were able to win the Caribbean tag titles from the Invaders thanks to interference from the Iron Sheik. While this interference led to a singles match between Sheik and Invader #1 on March 31, the Invaders quickly started chasing Chicky and Burke to get their rematch for the Caribbean tag titles. As we saw last time, Chicky and Leo gave the Invaders a non-title match, but the Invaders were able to win that match and secure a return title match. 

On April 7 in Caguas, the two teams faced off once again, but Chicky and Burke attacked Invader #4 during the match and temporarily took him out of action. An angry Invader #1 signed to face the Caribbean tag champs in a two vs one handicap match on April 14.  This handicap match took place at Estadio Hiram Bithorn and at one point during the match, Maelo Huertas showed up to help save his brother from a two on one attack, bringing a two by four with him to help clear the ring. Hugo said he had never seen Maelo (Invader #4) like that when he showed up with the two by four. The two teams are signed to face each other in a grudge match for April 21, so it looks like the feud between Chicky & Burke and the Invaders is far from over. We unfortunately do not have footage of any of these matches, but we do have an Invader #1 music video with several highlights from 1986 and 1989 (and set to their current entrance music). Let’s see how many opponents you can recognize.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Xr9kfTpjEY

MD: I’d honestly say that this is a great way to show someone who isn’t in the know exactly what made Invader special. You only see a little bit of his selling but you see a ton of him coming back with big strikes against formidable foes as the crowds go wild. 

EB: The Super Medicos were finally able to defeat Los Mercenarios for the World tag team titles on March 31. The former champions were not happy over losing the World tag titles, and they decided to send a message to the Super Medicos. We got an inkling of something happening during an insert promo we saw in a previous installment, where the Super Medicos made reference to an attack done by Los Mercenarios. What exactly happened? Well, the incident occurred during a tag match where the Super Medicos were facing an unexpected tandem popping in for an appearance in CSP.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybMmvwXFvwQ

We already saw Mr. Saito in action vs TNT in the previous installment, but it appears he did not make this excursion alone. Riki Choshu is teaming up with Saito to face the Super Medicos and I am still in shock that these two popped in for an appearance in CSP in April 1990. Eliud Gonzalez introduces both teams, as the Super Medicos show off their recently won World title belts. Saito and Choshu are being managed by El Profe, who has specialized in managing the Japanese wrestlers that have come into the territory. Profe is also the manager of Los Mercenarios, so there may be something else up as well. Choshi and Medico #1 start off for their teams. Choshu gets the better of the initial exchange and is able to back Medico #1 into the rudo corner. Saito holds Medico #1 as Choshu delivers some chops. Master Saito is tagged in and briefly maintains the advantage on Medico #1. However, Medico #1 counters with several chops on his end and is able to tag Medico #3, who sends Saito down with a dropkick. Estrada Jr (it appears we’re still in that weird period where he is being called #4 although by now I think he had been promoted to #3) gets a two count but Saito gets control back with an eye poke. Choshu is tagged in and delivers several kicks to Estrada Jr, followed by a suplex. Choshu gets a two count and tags Saito back in. Saito applies a sleeperhold on the younger Estrada, but Medico #1 jumps off the top rope to break the hold. The rudos make a switch behind the ref’s back, and Choshu puts a nerve hold on the younger Medico (which is again broken up by Medico #1). The rudos switch again, Saito works a nerve hold and again Medico #1 comes in off the top rope to break the hold. Another illegal switch and Choshu works a neck wringer on Estrada Jr. The ref asks Profe if the tag was made and he shakes his head vigorously in the affirmative. Another Illegal switch occurs and Saito backdrops Estrada Jr. Saito continues in control, choking Estrada Jr. and eventually tags Choshu back in. Choshu and the younger Medico exchange blows and Choshu keeps Estrads Jr near the rudo corner. 

Saito is tagged back in and proceeds to choke out Estrada Jr on the mat. Medico #1 cheers on his partner from the apron, and it looks like Estrada Jr is trying to fight out of the choke. Saito sends Estrada Jr. into the ropes and Estrada Jr counters with a dropkick. This allows for the tag to be made to Medico #1, who comes in  with punches on both Saito and Choshu. While this is happening, El Profe charges towards the tecnico corner and yanks Estrada Jr off the apron. This angers Estrada Jr, who goes after Profe, who is backing up towards the locker room entrance. El Profe tries to kick Estrada Jr, but the kick is blocked and Estrada Jr knocks Profe down. As Estrada Jr sets himself up to punch a downed Profe, Los Mercenarios rush out of the locker room and attack the younger Medico. It was a set up. Los Mercenarios and El Profe grab the younger Estrada and drag him into the locker room. Meanwhile, Medico #1 has been successfully fighting off both Saito and Choshu. However, Medico #1 realizes that his tag partner is missing and asks the crowd what happened. Medico #1 leaves the ring in search of his son, as the fans point in the direction of the locker room. All of a sudden, the younger Estrada is tossed out of the locker room and to the floor, busted open. Medico #1 sees his son and goes to him, but the referee has been doing the ring out count while all this has been happening. As Medico #1 holds his son and tries to help him, the referee counts out the Medicos. Saito and Choshu win the match and it looks like Los Mercenarios have sent a message to new World tag team champions.   

MD: Well, this is surreal. It feels like a 1990 WCW tag tournament or something. Choshu and Saito (MASTER Saito) don’t take the night off either. They feed early and then cut Medico (4? They’re saying 4; I’m going to assume it’s Estrada, Jr. unless Esteban tells me otherwise) off with a perfectly timed shot from Saito. A lot of these Medicos matches have felt like an education in Estrada, Jr. taking the heat and there’s more of that here as he takes a beating and gets a hope spot or two in. On the comeback, Medico 4 goes after Profe and gets ambushed by the Mercenarios so while Medico 1 is punching Choshu and Saito and giving them a double noggin knocker, Medico 4 is nowhere to be seen. Eventually he’s tossed out, a bloody mess, and Medico 1 tends to him leading to the countout. This was a fun surprise. 

EB: The Super Medicos and Los Merenarios would face off after this attack in a rematch on April 14. This feud will continue throughout the month and we’ll see how it ends up unfolding next time.
We have a couple of matches that appear to be from April 7. The first match features El Profe’s latest monster Atkie Malumba taking on Miguelito Perez. Let’s see if Perez fares better than the other wrestlers that have faced Malumba so far.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wHxkly5mOY

Hugo and Chicky are on commentary, as they mention that Miguelito has a tough opponent in Malumba. Atkie has been impressive thus far as part of El Profe's Real Academia. Hugo notes that Miguel will have to use his speed and agility against Malumba, as we wait for Atkie to finish his pre match preparation. As Malumba bows, Hugo asks Chicky if they are happy that this man is with El Profe and not against them (Chicky responds with Definitely). Atkie charges at Perez to start but is met by several; punches from Miguelito. Perez is able to stun Malumba and back him into a corner, where he continues attacking Malumba with punches and kicks. Perez does some standing punches and continues the attack, ramming Malumba into another corner and not letting up. Chicky admits on commentary that he is impressed that Perez has been able to keep Malumba at bay so far. However, the momentum shifts when Miguelito whips Malumba into the opposite corner and tries to follow up with a corner splash. Malumba meets the incoming Perez with his own standing splash, and Perez is knocked down. Atkie follows up by choking Perez on the mat, as Hugo mentions that Perez must feel like he ran into a truck. El Profe mugs for the camera holding the shrunken head, as Malumba tosses Perez outside of the ring. Malumba drags Perez over to the fence in front of the crowd and attacks Perez there, including grating Perez’s head across the fencing. Atkie starts shaking and chanting, as he moves over to El Profe and bows to him and the shrunken head. Profe makes sure to point Malumba back in Miguelito's direction, and Atkie kicks the incoming Miguelito right in the face. Back in the ring, Malumba hits a slam and follows up with a splash. As we have seen before, Atkie foregoes the pin and decides to go to the top turnbuckle. A flying splash leads to a three count and another impressive win for Atkie Malumba. El Profe celebrates in the ring and Malumba hits an elbow drop on Perez post match. Chicky says that this man is here to destroy El Ejercito de la Justicia and, so far, it looks like Malumba will do just that. 

MD: Quick mauling here. Malumba took him out to the fence and beat him there a bit, rolled him back in and hit a top rope splash. It was what it should have been.

EB: The other match we have from April 7 features the new Universal champion. Carlos Colon defeated Abdullah the Butcher on March 31st to become the Universal champion once more. While Abdullah will not be appearing in the short-term (meaning no title rematch), El Jeque has sent his latest acquisition after Carlos Colon. The Iron Sheik is no stranger to Carlos, with the two men having previously had a feud over the Universal title in early 1988. Now, it appears Sheik is set on continuing what Abdullah is not able to follow up on.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LxfqwzFWEl0 

We join the match in progress as it looks like the Iron Sheik was using his loaded boot to counter a charge into the corner by Carlos. We cut to later in the match as Hugo continues narrating. Carlos goes for a slam on the Sheik but the ref gets knocked down by Sheik’s legs on the slam pick up. Carlos is bleeding and both wrestlers look tired. Carlos hits another body slam on the Sheik and goes to the top turnbuckle. Carlos attempts a flying legdrop but the Iron Sheik rolls out of the way. Sheik gets to his feet first as we see El Jeque lying on the ground beside the ring, completely knocked out. Sheik puts Carlos in the camel clutch. The ref is still out but eventually comes to. Carlos manages to break the hold and the Sheik falls to the outside. Carlos goes after the Sheik and the clip cuts to both men exchanging punches outside of the ring as the ref tries to get them to go back inside. Both men  continue fighting and attack the ref when he tries to break it up (Sheik with a shove, Carlos with a headbutt). Carlos gets fired up and continues punching the Sheik, but a kick to the groin stops Carlos in his tracks. The Iron Sheik takes advantage of the low blow and puts Carlos back in the camel clutch outside of the ring. 

The ref comes to and calls for the bell, apparently it is a double disqualification. As Carlos struggles in the hold, the rudo locker room comes out to cheer Sheik on and to act as a barrier to anyone who might attempt to help Carlos. The tecnicos come out and start fighting with the rudos, as Sheik continues applying the camel clutch to Carlos.  As the fight continues, TNT breaks away from the group and goes around the ring, coming up behind the Iron Sheik with a chair. TNT cracks Sheik on the back with the chair, getting the camel clutch broken and saving Carlos.

MD: Wild stuff here. We only get three minutes of it. Colon accidentally takes out Vikingo with a slam, misses an Alabama Jam, and then just barely escapes the Camel Clutch (great bloody visual). He goes out with Sheik and headbutts him repeatedly and even headbutts Vikingo when he gets in the way. Sheik hits the foul and puts the Clutch back on while they’re out on the floor. Vikingo calls for the bell. The whole backstage area comes out to brawl (which I assume has to do with the heels uniting but it’s a great visual since they haven’t done anything like this since we started the project). 

EB: It looks like the rudos are banding together to try to take out El Ejercito de la Justicia. Colon obviously wanted payback against the Iron Sheik. What is next for these two? Let’s go to an airing of Campeones where we learn a bit more about how this rivalry escalated.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIV-lVtyuLo

This match is from what is likely the April 14 Campeones episode. It’s an older match featuring the Iron Sheik vs Invader #2. We’re including it because the commentary is new, featuring Hugo and Chicky talking about the latest happenings in CSP. It also gives us a chance to see Invader #2 in action. This match originally happened in late 87 or early 88, when the Iron Sheik was being set up for his feud with Carlos Colon for the Universal title. At the time Chicky was the Iron Sheik’s manager. Besides the match, there are some important talking points we need to cover from the commentary.To start,Chicky mentions that he, El Profe and El Jeque have formed a coalition to take El Ejercito de la Justicia out. All three rudo managers are banding together and they will act as one unit going forward. As we’ll see in the coming weeks, this actually also serves as a way to phase out El Jeque, after this run with the Iron Sheik he will no longer be appearing as a manager for CSP. Chicky mentions that the Iron Sheik is an important centerpiece in this plan, as he’ll be facing Carlos Colon once more. Invader #2 controls the early part of the match, as he’s able to hiptoss Sheik. The Iron Sheik comes back with an eye rake and uses his spike toed boot to further gain the advantage. As Invader #2 cuts off Sheik with a dropkick, Hugo mentions that tomorrow they will be in Mayaguez (based on commentary from other matches, I believe TNT vs Iron Sheik was scheduled for that card). 

As the Sheik gains control again with another eye rake, we go to an insert promo featuring Carlos Colon. Carlos mentions that last week the Sheik hurt him (referencing the camel clutch incident we just saw), but tonight he will be out for revenge. They are scheduled to face off for the Universal title in a barbed wire match tonight at Estadio Hiram Bithorn. Calros promises he will deliver a heck of a beating to the Iron Sheik. Hugo and Chicky react to Colon’s words as the Iron Sheik begs off from an attack by Invader #2. As Invader #2 continues with a series of punches, Sheik resorts to another eye rake to cut off the attack. As the ref gets Invader #2 to back away from the corner, the Iron Sheik takes advantage to load up his boot. When Invader #2 charges in, Sheik comes off the ropes with a kick to the head and gets the three count. 

MD: This was a bit more of a spry Sheik from a few years earlier, up against Invader 2 in his Solar-masked glory. It was pretty back and forth with Sheik stooging backwards and bumping a bit more for him and then taking over with eyerakes primarily. This time when he loaded the boot, though, it was the end for Invader. I wonder how much of a boost him being in there, using that gimmick, and being with Chicky. had given Abbuda Dein as he was getting established. Unfortunately we don’t have the barbed wire match this sets up, which is quite the shame.

EB: We unfortunately don’t have any footage from the barbed wire match. Also, we have reached the end of the Iron Sheik’s short run in CSP. This means that there is an opening for a new challenger for the Universal title. Who will be next in line? We’ll find out in a moment as we go to a match that appears to be from the April 14 card.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlG1REUE9Lo 

Pierre Martel is back and this time his opponent is the monster known as Atkie Malumba. Hugo and Carlos are on commentary and it appears this match is from a late April airing of Campeones, since Carlos mentions that he is soon to meet Malumba that night one on one (it seems we have found who Carlos Colon’s next challenger will be). Martel gets an early advantage working Atkie’s arm but a thrust to the throat cuts off Pierre’s attack. From there it’s mainly Malumba, as he shows off the different ways he can choke Pierre. Carlos mentions that we shouldn’t forget that Pierre does use a loaded boot, but whether it’ll come into play here remains to be seen. Malumba continues with the throat and neck based offense, with Profe even getting a cheapshot in on Pierre at one point. The match goes to the outside and Atkie continues on the attack, throwing Pierre into some chairs near ringside. Pierre manages to get back in the ring and tosses some dirt he grabbed from the floor into Atkie’s face, causing him to stumble around outside in discomfort. El Profe checks on Malumba and tries to wipe his face clean. Hugo mentions that with an opponent like Malumba you pretty much have to figure out how to even the playing field. Pierre stomps Maluba as he gets near the ring but follows him outside and gets the better of a punch exchange with Atkie. Back in the ring, Malumba is staggered and Pierre sets up for his loaded boot, but Profe grabs onto Pierre’s leg and refuses to let go. Atkie takes advantage of this distraction and knocks down Pierre from behind. This sets up a splash, although Malumba decides to forgo the pin. Atkie goes up top and hits a flyin splash, again choosing to stop the cover at two. The ref tries to stop Malumba from coming off the top rope again and Atkie splashes the referee instead. Atkie hits another flying splash on Pierre, as another referee comes in and calls for the bell. Malumba leaves the ring, as El Profe tries to calm him down and it looks like Martel is hurt.

MD: You always kind of want to hold it against Malumba for who he isn’t, but he had solid presence; he was always on, always reacting, always trying to make the most of whatever was happening. That meant recoiling in confusion and frustration at every shot Martel got in early and just constantly being on him when he did take over. Martel came back here only to have Profe grab his leg and Malumba load his boot. Maybe you don’t need the monster to also have a loaded boot gimmick but then it does create that dissonance of unfairness that he has to resort to something like that when he’s so big and so dangerous. Post-match was kind of great actually, as he hit a flying body press on the ref (Vikingo) who was trying to get in his way, just squashing him, and then hit the top rope splash on Martel anyway. That’s how you get over a monster, give or take the loaded boot.

EB: It looks like Carlos was attacked in Mayaguez by Atkie Malumba and he is now the newest challenger for the Universal title. Carlos is going to have his hands full with this monster, who has made easy work of all of his opponents thus far. We’ll continue to follow this burgeoning rivalry as we head into May.

Next time on el Deporte de las Mil Emociones, as May approaches things heat up for some of the existing rivalries. Will there be any new title changes? Also, a new wrestler arrives in CSP as a blond cowboy comes calling as part of the new rudo coalition.
 

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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

70s Joshi on Wednesday: Komine! Hagiwara! Sato! Akagi!

13. 1979.01.XX2 - 01 Hiroko Komine vs. Mimi Hagiwara

K: This is our first look at Hiroko Komine, who (along with Mimi) is from the AJW class of 1978. Hiroko would quit after another year, I was going to say that there’s almost no information on her but just this March she was interviewed on Jaguar Yokota’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_JoKLR4Q5s The gist of it is she was constantly injured while wrestling. She tells a story of going to hospital thinking she had a sprain only to be told she has a bone fracture but it was already broken so long ago it’d already hardened so there wasn’t much they could do. No wonder she didn’t last long.

I’m also just noticing how very thin Mimi is here. In 1983 she did an interview where she claimed she’d put on 11kg since she’d started wrestling so she could compete better, the reason may be a little kayfabed but looking at her here she probably wasn’t exaggerating the weight gain.

To the match, pretty early on Hiroko establishes herself as being on the heel-side of things, but it’s a bit “box-ticky.” She does the standard tropes of stomping on Mimi she’s in the ropes and scrunching up her face, but the aura of malice isn’t there. When Mimi gets a comeback going it’s a bit abrupt as just pulls Hiroko up while in a body scissors and slams her down to break it. It doesn’t get any reaction but I guess the quicker things got changed up the better, as alongside being more charismatic Mimi is actually a bit better on offense (though neither are ‘good’), her neckbreaker drop early into this section had a nice execution to it even if she’s still a bit rough.

Things improve when Hiroko starts to get back into things, but rather than the generic heel offense she goes for running elbows and some decent-looking dropkicks. Mimi manages to counter snapmare-attempt into a backslide and gets the pin. This wasn’t much. But it’s also just a rookie opener which nobody thought we’d be watching back 45 years later, so it’s fine for what it is and there’s not much else to say about it.

*1/4

MD: If I’m reading the poorly translated commentary right, they were making fun of Hagiwara for wrestling 300 times in 78 and only winning about twenty times and said that Komine was rookie of the year. This went less than seven minutes. They were pretty even to start with rapid succession alternating armdrags, but Komine took over. She was competently mean but didn’t stand out, using eyerakes, standing hairpulls, and front facelocks that she rolled back with. Hagiwara pulled her hair out of a bodyscissors to takeover with her neckbreakers and a nice gutwrench of sorts before they went into finishing stretch with dropkicks and cross chops and body presses (some missed) and finishing things with a few pin attempts and a Hagiwara backslide. Competent for the experience level is the phrase that I’d use but Hagiwara seemed a bit more confident than the last time we saw her.

14. 1979.01.XX2 - 02 Chino Sato vs. Mariko Akagi

K: Chino Sato is from the AJW Class of 1978. She retired in 1981 and I believe her retirement ceremony was the first to have the ‘When A Child Is Born’ instrumental playing while her career achievements were read out, which would become the standard format from then on.

Chino gets a bit more offense in this than you’d expect considering the gulf in status, but her offense also isn’t very good and it comes across like Mariko is just humouring her more than she’s a genuine threat. Mariko a couple of times just brushes her off and decides it’s her turn to take over and imposes herself far more convincingly. It’s fitting then that the finishing run is Chino hitting a bunch of offense, the first move of which she totally misses (unintentionally), there’s a Giant Swing which she tries a splash but Mariko moves out of the way, then just puts her in a Figure 4, Chino submits and that’s the end of that.

This has some value in that it’s a rare look at Mariko Akagi in action just before she retires, and it does look believable from the footage that she really was the best worker of her era. But it’s also just a veteran vs. rookie squash low on the card (and one of the less good rookies at that), and a match like that is always going to have a low ceiling.

*1/2

MD: My last impression of Akagi was that she was a fiery and unrelenting heel. Here things seemed to be nice and calm right at the start but then she came charging in with kicks. She had amazing snap on everything she did, especially her headlock takeovers and snap mares. Really, everything though. She’d bound to the top rope at a moment’s notice to leap off with a twisting body press and the way she locked in the figure four at the end, right after eating a giant swing, was absolutely flawless. In comparison, Sato was a bit of a clutz, well meaning but stumbling all over the place. She was presented as gutsy, charging right in and kicking out of move after move when she probably should have stayed down and she had a late flurry full of power bombs and that giant swing (that probably made her more dizzy than Akagi). She was a work in progress. Akagi came off, especially in comparison, like a surgeon in there. These two were quite short and much more focused and direct than the longer tags we’ve been seeing with a lot of momentum shifts and I found them refreshing but I’d like to have a mixing of things moving forward.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Black Terry May Simply Be a Single Drop of Rain


I was looking through the C+A Black Terry and realized the last match on the list was the incredible Mr. Condor match in 2021, so I wanted to check in and see what he has been up to in the last couple of years as he moves into his 70s

Black Terry vs. Arandu Dark Sun Wrestling 5/30/22 - GREAT

PAS: This was a maestro match between Terry and long time Monterey rudo Arandu, and hit all of the points you would expect in a match like this. Opening with matwork, moving into some chair shots and some nasty punch exchanges. It was a solid performance by a pair of pros who know exactly how to deliver the hits to an audience. Terry took some bumps and threw some good looking rights and lefts. It didn't really have the moments to elevate it to the next level, more of a solid B, then an A+, but it definitely showed Terry still has some juice. 

Black Terry vs. Vinny Massaro Lucha Memes 9/18/22 - GREAT

I remember digging Vinny in the early 2000s in APW, as a guy with some nice suplex. He fell off my radar for decades, but came back as a guy who is working a bunch in California indies in dream match scenarios. He is a fun guy to get the chance to travel to Mexico, and I dug this as a pair of trainers from very different worlds matching up. Massaro has nice open hand shots and the best parts of the match were the pair of these guys throwing at each other, and Massaro looked solid on the mat, and I liked his Fujiwara finish. There were a couple of moments near the end where they were slightly on the wrong page, and it was an opening round tourney match, so they never really pushed it to the next level, still a fun WAR booking match.

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Monday, May 20, 2024

AEW Five Fingers of Death 5/13 - 5/19


Ring of Honor 5/16/24

Athena vs. Nicole (Matthews)

MD: It's been way too long since we've had an Athena match of any length or with any weight behind it. And this was definitely a fun one. Someone asked me the other day to give them my thoughts about Negro Casas as he wasn't entirely clicking with them, which is understandable if you only catch certain parts of his most lauded 90s work. Casas is actually fairly hard to explain, because he's such an exceptional talent. While he excels in a number of conventional ways, what really makes him special are things that other wrestlers generally don't share. He checks a number of the normal boxes, but quite a few boxes that no one else checks. It's like trying to explain Terry Funk. And it's like trying to explain Athena.

The common ground between all three of them, however, is that you never, ever want to look away. No matter what's happening in the ring, no matter what their opponent is doing, no matter how the crowd is taking it, you want to see them react to literally everything that happens from the moment they come through the curtain until the moment they leave again.

And what made Matthews such a great opponent for Athena is that she gave her so much to work with. There was their history which should have put Athena on edge. There was the crowd being very into a local legend which certainly did put Athena on edge. But more than that, Matthews is just so good at doing all of the little things. She hits the big things smoothly, but not so smoothly that it doesn't feel organic and engaging; there's a bit of grit on her whips and grabs and grinds. It's those little things though, an extra shift of leverage with an unexpected body part on a pin attempt, torque on a hold coming from an interesting angle, that put it all over the top. It's style and substance both, something extra that feels additive and not extraneous, something that is visually interesting and unique but that fills in a narrative gap as well, making suspension of disbelief easier and not harder.

In this case specifically, more than just engaging the crowd and filling in between all the lines, this meaningful effort (that somehow still seemed effortless) gave Athena even more to react to. She reveled in Matthews' pain while trapped in the corner. She scrambled all the more, horror and determination flashing across her face, when she found herself in a hold or in one of those ever so slightly enhanced pin attempts. Athena is going to come into any match more alive than almost any other wrestler today, but when you put her up against someone who gives her just so much material to work with, such a vibrant and rich tapestry to color upon, she soars. So yeah, in the end, this was a sub-ten minute proving ground match. There was a hierarchical difference. It was there to set up the post match with Aminata making the save and basking over the belt. But in watching it, you didn't want to look away for a second.

AEW Dynamite 5/15/24 

Bryan Danielson/Jon Moxley vs. Jeff Cobb/Kyle Fletcher

MD: I don't have a ton of big thoughts on this one. I liked it more than the Top Flight match (and I wanted to like the Top Flight match!). It served its purposes, letting Danielson be a star in Washington, both with the music-laden entrance to save Moxley and then by being the one to get the hot tag while Mox worked FiP; having Moxley look dominant both in the shine and down the stretch; keeping the stories churning towards the PPV, starting the show off hot, etc.

Moxley brawling to music always looks right, as if he's somehow choreographed to it, no matter what he does, like a fight scene a movie with a Hans Zimmer score. Here we had the novelty of him brawling to Danielson's theme instead of his own and it worked for all of the high points in the song. Like I said, I enjoyed him asserting himself early back in the ring even if I think that superplex on Fletcher was maybe not the best idea. It was a move that was starting to get protected more in 2021-2022 and there's value to at least making the attempt. Let's not do one in the first couple of minutes of a match

Speaking of protection, Fletcher is the least protected champ I can imagine, but it's gone so far that it's come around to being ok. He's clearly a top guy in a minor league promotion able to stand up to the competition there but unable to face the guys in a major league promotion. You appreciate the attempt but know he's going to get swept under, like a junior heavyweight fighting up in a higher weight class. It was chafing while that was being established by now that it is established it's fine. You can look at Mark Briscoe's Continental Classic record along the same line. Having Cobb in there was a nice change in the mix, both with his strength moves and in him knowing what he had with a homestate Danielson playing to him and the crowd. I'm not sure if the effect would be lessened if we saw him every week but it was nice here as a one-off and teaming the two TV champions was a nice touch and makes me regret we never got more with Samoa Joe/ZSJ last year. Overall I don't think people will remember this much past the brawling over Danielson's theme to start but it was a fun way to spend twenty minutes. 

AEW Collision 5/19/24

Bryan Danielson/FTR vs. Lance Archer/The Righteous

MD: Not much to say about this one. I thought Collision was very effective overall in building things towards both Dynamite and the PPV. Having Trent and Roddy out there for their opponents' matches, letting Toni do her thing, having Wayne use Swerve's move to build to their match, using the bounty as a way to push AitA, and especially having the three FTW eliminator matches back to back with some rampway interaction. It was a very effective cog-in-the-machine show, just good pro wrestling TV. I liked Taylor vs Ospreay especially. I think Ospreay is actually most special when he's being grounded in traditional pro wrestling storytelling. Having Roddy out there, having Ogogo get the cheapshot in, having to overcome the size differential, being able to channel what makes him so spectacular not in an ever-cascading escalation competition but instead in the tried and true narratives of pro wrestling means that he enhances a match instead of distracts from him.

So I liked Collision. As for this, they did a good job with the time they had (closer to 10-15 than 25, as a lot of the big Collision tags go). The goal seemed to be to delay and deny the fans Danielson (save for some extra-curriculars on the outside going into the commercial break and Dutch catching Dax to star the FIP). When he hit the hot tag, he looked like the star he is against a massive opponent in Dutch and then as they went into the stretch, they were able to finally do some team spots with Danielson and Cash, all of which were fun, to build up AitA. The finish was a little cutesy but this was more celebratory than anything else, and the weight of it would come through in the post-match, including the absolutely brutal Blackout on the chair to Cash. Bring on Satnam. 

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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Found Footage Friday: FUJIWARA~! ANDRE~! SAYAMA~! MAEDA~! KIDO~! HOSHINO~! KURISU~!


Tiger Mask/Osamu Kido vs. Kantaro Hoshino/Masanobu Kurisu NJPW 12/19/82

MD: I always get a little surprised when a new NJPW Tiger Mask HH comes up because I just assume they had a pro shot of it that they released on a twenty disc DVD set at some point. This does seem new though, and it's a great collection of talent. Overall, it's a little formless and exhbition-y, except for a stretch where Kido and Tiger Mask were working over Kurisu in the corner. That was my favorite part, by the way, as Tiger Mask was working like a flittering chickenshit heel to some degree, sneaking in shots that didn't do damage to distract him so Kido could hit more substantial cutoffs. Then when Kurisu rolled over to Hoshino finally, Tiger Mask got right out of the ring and tagged Kido back in. I think he was just having fun on an untelevised show for a bit though, hard to say.

In general, every exchange looked good and while they could change speeds and switch from strikes to holds to rope running, each pairing felt a little different. You could see it even in just how they moved. Kurisu found the path of least reistance with his takedowns, just a percussive series of thuds as he worked in tight or dropped a couple of knees. Tiger Mask was loose and fast to the point where sometimes he wasn't even hanging on to anything as he was spinning and you just had to sort of go with it. He came off like a movie fencer whipping the sword around wildly while Kurisu was an Olympic fencer, precise and with the smallest motion necessary. Kido and Hoshino were somewhere in the middle; Hoshino especially had to base for Tiger Mask and make it all somehow work. Sometimes things didn't feel resonant enough as they moved on to the next move. There was a pile driver from one side and a tombstone from the other in short order and I don't remember who took either. Tiger Mask pulled out his fairly rare slingshot 450 (that I only really remember Scorpio also using) for the win. It wasn't the sort of match that was ever going to come together but you can't really fault the action.


Yoshiaki Fujiwara/Osamu Kido vs. Super Tiger/Akira Maeda UWF 11/15/84 - EPIC

PAS: I can't believe we are still getting brand new incredible HH matches from 40 years ago. God bless the guy sneaking in a video camera. This is as great as it looks on paper, four all timers in their prime, having a hideously violent proto-shootstyle match. Kido is a bit dry, but a tremendous technician, kind of the Tim Duncan of the UWF, Maeda is one of the most charismatic offensive dynamos in wrestling history, although he played a bit of a supporting role here. The focus of this match is Fujiwara vs. Super Tiger, which is truly one of the all time great matchups ever. It is the incubatory version of Ishikawa vs. Ikeda, a brilliant tactician looking for every opening to take advantage of, against a hellacious violence dynamo trying to knock his opponents brains out of their ears. The Sayama kneedrop on Fujiwara is one of the most violent signature spots ever, I don't understand the magic, he lands so hard right on the temple, Fujiwara looks like he should have his skull flattened like when Christopher Lloyd got run over by the tractor in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Meanwhile Fujiwara is dishing out shots of his own, working Tiger's body in the corner like a heavy bag, drilling him with headbutts, yanking and pulling at his limbs. Every moment of it was special and we got a lot of them. The finish run is a bit clipped sadly (I imagine the HH guy was running out of film.) So we don't see every moment of Fujiwara maneuvering into submissions (which is a shame because he is the greatest small movement wrestler ever), but what we got was such a mitzvah.  

MD: Phil likens Super Tiger vs Fujiwara to Ishikawa and Ikeda and man, I don't know. It felt more like Buddy Rose vs Matt Borne during those few months where Buddy Rose was allegedly engaging in frequent acts of domestic violence against Borne's sister and they were trying to draw money off of it. Does Sayama have a sister? Because that's the level of violence he was rising to in the way he was beating on Fujiwara. In the NJPW tag below, Sayama wins with a crazy slingshot 450 that you don't see almost anyone do ever. The moment where Fujiwara starts to come back out of the corner and hit his headbutts and Sayama just clocks him in the jaw to cut him off just blows that out of the water when it comes to pro wrestling being amazing. Maeda and Kido do their part here too. I know Kido's dry, but he's dry like the desert. You can't get one over on him. He stretches for as far as the eye can see and you have to walk a thousand miles to endure all of his takedown attempts. Each of the pairings here were different and when he was in there against Super Tiger, he even tried to match him in stand up striking (he failed) which is not what you usually see out of Kido. Meanwhile, Maeda and Fujiwara contrasted with the dangerous explosiveness of the Sayama/Fujiwara pairing. It was all about positioning and little bits of leverage, constant hand motion, Maeda using his reach to press his hand upon Fujiwara's head and Fujiwara trying to slip around and lock something on. And yeah, when Fujiwara finally did get the chance to get revenge (which had previously been cut off with that Sayama punch) it's grisly, gripping stuff. The clipping's unfortunate but I figure the camcorder just couldn't handle much more of what it was seeing. It switches from wrestling found footage to a found footage snuff film, where we blink and Fujiwara's trying another attempt at the chicken wing, blink again and he's turning it into a headscissors. After all we just saw, it almost even worked in its own startling way.


Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Andre the Giant NJPW 5/27/86 - EPIC

MD: When you watch mid-80s New Japan, that month of the IWGP league when you get a bunch of weird singles matches alongside the usual tags is a treat. Granted, we didn't get to see most of these on the TV but that's the miracle of HHs still sneaking their way through (you get the same thing with the CC in AJPW where you'll suddenly get Misawa vs Cactus Jack or something, just like how with the tag league you'll get all the possible pairings if you're lucky). Therefore, seen minutes of Fujiwara vs Andre. It's only seven minutes, really only five given the entrances. You wish it was fourteen, but the taste that we do get is pretty much as iconic as you'd hope that it'd be.

Andre contains Fujiwara in the corner, tries to treat him like any other opponent he might manhandle, as if he was in there against 86 Kengo Kimura. Fujiwara constantly works his way to a neutral point causing Andre to shift holds repeatedly. He has the advantage, is able to shut Fujiwara down when he tries to headbutt, but is also forced to use escalating offense, including a mean shot to the gut off the ropes you rarely see Andre do. There a sense that if Andre lets up for one second Fujiwara is going to come back and cut him down to size. While Andre is unquestionably dominant and winning by points, Fujiwara through presence and motion, makes it seem closer than it ought to be. That leads Andre to take a risk, one that backfires, setting things up for Fujiwara's comeback headbutts. Andre's just too big though and is able to pull them both out and once out, Wakamatsu gets involved forcing the countout. You watch this and almost can imagine what a WrestleMania 3 match between these two might have looked like.

PAS: These two are 15 best wrestlers of all time (10 best? Maybe 5 best?) and while the version of this in my head is an all time great main event collision, this 6 minute undercard match is still pretty great. We get Fujiwara, an all time great pro-wrestling problem solver, tasked with lumbering Andre, an all time great wrestling problem. He prods and pokes looking for openings, and even makes the mistake of trying to hit Andre with a headbutt, which goes as well as one would expect. The match goes to a count out before Fujiwara finds a solution, which is a bit of buzzkill, I can imagine how amazing a UWF main event between these two would have been two years earlier or three years later, but it is amazing we got it at all.

ER: I actually think we're all being a bit too calm about this match. This is the literal only Andre the Giant/Yoshiaki Fujiwara match that ever happened. Andre the Giant and Yoshiaki Fujiwara, two guys who are even more than Top 5 Guys, they are two guys with a legitimate claim to #1. Andre the Giant is my #1 wrestler, and if not now I believe Fujiwara was Phil's #1 at some point. For me, expectations were out the window. The literal only singles match between two giants of my wrestling fandom, a match nobody could have reasonably expected would have ever shown up on tape after nearly 40 years, is suddenly in our hands and it looks, plays, and feels like Yoshiaki Fujiwara forcing Andre the Giant to wrestle shootstyle. 


Yes, I repeat, Yoshiaki Fujiwara prods Andre into wrestling shootstyle, and it is incredible. You want to watch the most fearless knee ripper in wrestling history force Andre to standing grapple for almost an entire match? I sure as hell did. I should have been shocked that Fujiwara walked straight up to Andre and tried to put him in a headlock. Did you see how huge Andre looked in this match? How was Andre the Giant even possible? You know supposedly the Big Show was physically larger than Andre? It makes no sense. Andre looks like a forest ogre forced into working double underhooks with a shooter, Big Show looked like a really big guy stocking shelves at Costco. Andre is shaped like the perfect Giant, the thick legs and comic book distended torso, a Popeye Goon fleshed out into a God. Have we ever seen anyone try to grapple with him as long as Fujiwara did here? 

That's at the core of why I think this match should be so celebrated. To me, this felt like one of the greatest examples of someone Lasting With Andre while taking the game directly to Andre. Fujiwara is perhaps the greatest worker of all time at biding his time for a winning shot, a thing he does against men his own size all the damn time, and here he is against the opponent who makes the literal most sense to avoid while remaining as coiled and prepared at all times to strike one cobra shot. Andre presents Fujiwara with the most logical opponent ever to work a classic Fujiwara lay in wait, and this All Time Motherfucker goes at Andre from go and works for fucking single legs against a Fujiwara size leg of a man. Fujiwara forces Andre to work shootstyle and grapple and be a Force against him for what feels like longer than I've seen anyone do in any other match. Looking at this match as a potential all timer cut short into a 6 minute taste, is not seeing how rare it was to get a six minute stretch in any Andre match where someone takes it to him the way Fujiwara pushed him here. 

Do you know how quick I scooted forward in my chair when Fujiwara looked like he was going to topple Andre onto his butt with that single leg? Can you imagine headbutting the Stay Puft marshmallow man in the stomach. Did you see Andre drop to a fucking knee to clothesline Fujiwara in the stomach? Have you ever seen something so cool? How does every single year of Andre have him doing things that nobody has ever been able to do as well as Andre the Giant? That drop to know knee clothesline I've never seen before leading to one of the all time greatest missed headbutt spots is one of thousands of Andre moments that illustrate his creative brilliance. Nobody has worked with their aging body more creatively than Andre, giving more than any other wrestler has ever physically given and finding new vaudeville acts when he no longer had the reflexes to juggle. He lugged that trunk to all parts of the globe. 

Imagine Andre the Giant navigating Japan during the worst most painful physical year of his life! Andre turned 40 years old as a man knowing he wasn't seeing 50, and a week later was forced to be the largest shootstyle wrestler we've ever gotten to see in a match we didn't know existed until now. This is two Number Ones strengthening their status as Number Ones in a way we haven't seen. The greatest wrestler of all time against the greatest wrestler of all time and every second felt like they understood each other's importance to pro wrestling. 

 


COMPLETE AND ACCURATE YOSHIAKI FUJIWARA


COMPLETE AND ACCURATE ANDRE THE GIANT


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Thursday, May 16, 2024

El Deporte de las Mil Emociones: Title Changes, a Sheik and a Master

Week 23: Title Changes, a Sheik and a Master

EB: A lot has happened so far in CSP in the month of March. TNT started a feud with Abdullah the Butcher over the Universal title, leading to TNT’s title reign being cut short. A tournament for the vacant Caribbean tag titles was held, with the new Invaders emerging as the new champions. Los Mercenarios held off the challenge of two of the top tecnico teams in los Super Medicos and the Invaders, remaining the World tag team champions. Carlos Colon saw an opportunity to once again challenge for the Universal title now that Abdullah was the champion. Eddie Watts continued to face the challenge of both Huracan Castillo Jr. and Joe Savoldi for the World Junior title. Miguelito Perez had ongoing issues with both Carl Styles and Rick Valentine. And we saw the arrival of a new monster in the form of Atkie Malumba. We’ll see how some of these rivalries continue to evolve as April approaches. 

As we head towards the final big card of March (scheduled for March 31) which features Abullah the Butcher defending the Universal title against Carlos Colon, let’s look at some other matches that took place throughout the month. Then we'll focus specifically on some matches that occurred on the March 28 tv taping, which would have aired the morning of March 31. 

Leo Burke had not been successful in moving back into the top contender spot for the Universal title, but it looks like he and Chicky Starr have decided to take part in more tag matches. Let’s see them in action vs the Caribbean Express.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkZfsw9Acmw 

This looks to have aired on the April 7 weekend English language Caribbean Championship Wrestling that aired on Channel 13 somewhere in the U.S. Leo and Chicky seem to be focusing more in potential tag action after Burke’s unsuccessful attempt to gain the number one contendership for the Universal title. These two teams have faced each other before. As both teams spend several moments jawing at each other at the start (it looks like Burke and Chicky are taking their time deciding who will start the match for their side), Hugo runs down the credentials for all four men and reminds us that Burke is the reigning TV champion. It looks like Chicky will start for his team but immediately begins to stall again, demanding that Castillo stay on his side of the ring before they move to lock up. Chicky prances around a bit and the crowd starts getting on his case for it. Chicky repeats the prancing a couple of times, a tactic that Hugo mentions is likely gamesmanship to throw the Caribbean Express off. Chicky decides to tag Burke in (without having ever locked up with Castillo). Burke and Castillo lock up, with Castillo countering into a hammerlock. Burke forces a break in the ropes and tags Chicky back in. Chicky and Castillo exchange side headlocks on each other and this leads to a rope running reversal sequence (including a nice flip by Castillo over Chicky) that ends with Castillo taking Chicky down with an armdrag takedown. Castillo makes a quick tag to Perez, who continues working the armbar on Chicky. 

Burke sneaks into the ring, taking advantage that the ref has his back turned while talking to Castillo, and kicks Perez in the back of the head to break the hold. Chicky takes advantage and forces Perez into the Burke and Starr corner with a front facelock, with Burke being tagged in. Burke hits several blows on Perez before putting Miguelito in a side headlock. Perez eventually counters with a throw on the ropes, with a hiptoss being successful. Burke quickly regains control by cutting off Miguelito with a knee to the gut. Burke tags Chicky back in, who continues on the attack with some cheap blows that he hides from the referee. Chicky even moves in front of Castillo on the apron to hit one of his cheap blows, causing the ref to get tied up with an arguing Castillo and giving Chicky more chances to work over Miguelito. Perez hits a back suplex but misses a splash, as Hugo on commentary mentions that we’ll find out later in the program what happened last Saturday between Abdullah and Carlos in a Universal title match. 

Burke tags in and works a headlock on the mat as Miguelito avoids having his shoulders down for a three count.  Perez eventually counters by shooting Burke into the ropes, ending with a scoop slam. Perez follows up by whipping Burke into the corner but Leo sidesteps a charge by Perez. Chicky gets tagged in and continues on offense, but the moment Perez gets a comeback Chicky tags Burke back in. They try to double team Miguelito but it ends with Perez hitting a double clothesline on the rudos. The tag is finally made to Castillo, who cleans house on Burke with several blows.  Castillo gets a sleeperhold on Leo, but Chicky runs in and breaks it up. Castillo tags Perez back in and eventually all four men end up fighting in the ring. The rudos are whipped into each other and Castillo dropkicks Chicky to the ring apron. Castillo continues punching Chicky on the apron as Perez monkey flips Leo off the turnbuckle. The ref comes over to escort Castillo back to his corner as Perez throws Burke into the rudo corner for another monkey flip attempt. Chicky sees the attempt coming and grabs onto Leo from behind, causing Perez to crash backwards on the mat instead. Burke covers and gets the win for his team. If Burke and Chicky continue to pile up wins they may have a title shot in their future. And they do in fact get a Caribbean tag title shot at the March 28 tv taping.

MD: Chicky has a goatee here so in my head this match is what earned them the title shot against the Invaders (Chicky also has a goatee in that match). After a bit of chicanery where Chicky didn’t want to start off and a nice exchange with Castillo, this went to heat on Perez quickly. He was able to get three or four hope spots (cut off) before hitting a double clothesline to set up the hot tag. Things broke down after that but Chicky jammed a Perez monkey flip by holding Burke’s boot in the corner to score a flash win. It’s interesting how quickly the territory shifted to a much larger focus on tag teams.

EB: Another team that has been on the hunt for championship gold is the Super Medicos. Since debuting as a team, they have had a rivalry with the World tag team champions Los Mercenarios. So far they have not yet been able to win the titles, but a tag match held in mid March allows them to get some measure of payback against the Mercenarios manager El Profe.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPdo8Ut_qBQ 

We join the match in progress, as El Profe is hiding in the corner from one of the Medicos (it appears to be Medico #3). Profe has El Gran Mendoza as his tag partner for this match. Medico #3 goes after Profe in the corner but it was a ruse to allow Mendoza to rush in from behind and allow the rudo team the chance to double team Medico #3. Mendoza remains in the ring and works over Medico #3 with an abdominal stretch. Profe comes in to try a double team but Medico #1 rushes in to fight Profe off and sends him scurrying back to the rudo corner. Mendoza and Profe tie up Medico #3 in the ropes and try to take off his mask, but Medico #1 rushes in again to make the save. Profe and Mendoza are working fairly well and it seems that their strategy is to focus on unmasking Medico #3. Hugo mentions on commentary that going after the mask may result in a  disqualification for the rudo team but it is apparent that they don’t care about that. El Profe continues trying to get Medico #3’s mask off, with Medico #1 charging in to make several saves. The match continues with the rudos working over Medico #3, including a double hotshot on the top rope and several double stomps from El Profe. All the while, El Profe keeps taunting Medico #1 on the apron. At one point Medico #3 is able to make it to his team's corner but is not able to make the tag because Medico #1 had gone after El Profe after the constant taunting. Medico #3 finally makes the tag after knocking heads with Mendoza and Medico #1 comes in hot with several punches on both rudos. All four men end up in the ring and this leads to a finish where Medico #1 counters a Mendoza pin attempt into a cradle for a pin (as Medico #3 and Profe are just teeing off on each other with punches). It’s a victory for the Super Medicos and they will get one more shot at the World tag team titles on March 31st. 

MD: We come in here with Profe and Mendoza working over Medico 3. It was actually pretty compelling stuff as they kept him in the corner and worked at the mask, which is something we haven’t seen much of since we started the progress. Medico 1 gets angrier and angrier on the outside and Medico 3 is able to create distance once or twice but never make it to the corner before getting cut off. There’s a pretty elaborate sequence leading to heads crashing and the hot tag. Medico comes in destroying everyone but gets a quick reversal pin on Mendoza for the win.

EB: As the weekend of March 31 arrived, viewers were treated to some new developments that happened at the most recent TV tapings. Let’s go to a Caribbean tag title match where the Invaders are defending against the team of Leo Burke and Chicky Starr. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ommAruj8Z00

Chicky and Burke are in the ring waiting for the Invaders to enter, Chicky has his crown with him and Burke has the TV title belt. The Invaders make their entrance with their jumpsuits and coordinated jumps into the ring. There is no love lost between long time enemies Chicky and Invader #1 so this should be an interesting match. Eliud Gonzalez makes the ring introductions and we get a pre match hug from Chicky and Burke. Invader #4 and Chicky start off and this is a bit of a lengthy match. Invader #4 shows off his ability early on, taking down Chicky with several acrobatic armdrag takedowns. Invader #1 tags in and the Invaders do their arm wringer quick tag maneuver on Chicky. The Invaders continue controlling the first part of the match with quick tags and switches, keeping Chicky grounded and in the ring. Chicky makes a brief comeback but is sent to the outside as we go to a commercial break. When we come back, Burke comes in for his team and Invader #1 is also tagged in. Burke and Invader #1 are evenly matched for a moment but that ends when Invader #4 is tagged in and hits a mockery flip on Burke. The rudos try to do the same but instead Chicky ends up monkey flipping Burke by mistake. The Invaders hit running topes on Burke and Chicky and continue attacking them outside on the floor.

Chicky tries to move towards the entrance of the rudo locker room as Invader #1 gives chase, and when they get close, it appears that someone tries to help Chicky. It’s the Iron Sheik! Invader #1 punches Sheik away and the Invaders drag the rudos back to the ring. As all four men are in the ring, the Iron Sheik makes his way to ringside with his flag. It appears he is here to lend moral support to Leo and Chicky. But the odds quickly even when TNT comes out and stands in the Invaders corner. Burke tries to send Invader #1 into the corner but Invader #4 saves his brother. Chicky attempts to make a similar save for Burke but is left hanging dry. Burke and Chicky are able to gain control on Invader #4, attempting several pin attempts that are broken up by Invader #1 (and I do mean several pin attempts). After several minutes, Invader #4 is able to make the tag and Invader #1 fires off on both Burke and Chicky. Eventually all four men end up in the ring, with Invader #1 and Burke paired off on one side of the ring. While the ref is distracted in dealing with Invader #4 and Chicky on the other side of the ring, Invader #1 manages to get a cradle pin attempt on Burke. But they're too close to the ropes and the Iron Sheik hits Invader #1 with the flagpole. Burke makes the cover and we get new Carribean tag champions (thanks to an assist from the Iron Sheik).Chicky and Burke are presented with the tag belts and celebrate as the video ends.

MD: This one had all the bells and whistles. Very long shine for the Invaders. This is maybe the first match where the New Invaders really clicked for me. Invader 1 is the technical striker. Invader 4 is the finesse flyer, wrestling like his career depended on this working. He had some really slick stuff, flipping around armdrags and a bit where Invader 1 held both rudos (one at a time) on the floor for a tope. There was some fun brawling on the outside, a nice comedy bit where Chicky tried to use his body to save Burke in the corner and paid for it, and illegal switches too. The rudos took over on Invader 4 and while you’d inherently want it to be Invader 1 doing the selling, 4 being smaller and more spry made this work nonetheless. Chicky looked like a beast here with a killer German Suplex and a pile driver. Eventually they crashed heads though and Invader 1 got to punch a lot of people, as they built towards the crazy finish. In this case, the bells and whistles were TNT and Iron Sheik and Sheik was able to sneak in a flag shot to help Chicky and Burke win the titles. Very good title match.

EB: As we saw in the previous match, the Iron Sheik has made his return to Puerto Rico. The Sheik’s most notable run was an early 1988 feud he had with Carlos Colon over the Universal title. He has made other sporadic appearances since then and it seems that El Jeque has brought the Iron Sheik back to CSP as his latest recruit. Let’s watch the Sheik in action against Miguelito Perez.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nc4_3iThcA

El Jeque asks for the crowd to be quiet so Sheik can sing the national anthem ‘of Iraq’ (that’s a screwup). Sheik sings the anthem and heads to the ring. Eliud Gonzalez on commentary makes note that it's the Iran national anthem. The crowd does not like the Sheik and is behind Miguelito. The match starts off fairly even between both men. But Perez is eventually able to hit a sunset flip for a two count. Iron Sheik bails to the outside and argues with the crowd. Sheik gets back in and goes on offense, although he gets cocky by lifting Perez up on a couple of pin attempts. Perez makes a comeback with several punches, but when the referee gets Miguelito to back off, Sheik takes the opportunity to load up his boot. Sheik takes advantage of an opening to kick Miguelito right in the face with the loaded boot, busting Perez open. Sheik continues attacking Perez with a foreign object and continues to target the cut. Sheik continues to lift Perez up and refusing to pin him, so the referee calls for the bell. Invader #1 runs in to fight and chase the Iron Sheik away and, between this and Sheik's interference in the earlier tag title match, a match between Invader #1 and the Iron Sheik is set to take place on the March 31st card. 

MD: This was astounding. 1990 Sheik was made for Puerto Rico. He was a stalling, stooging machine early on, staggering back, taking his one real bump of the match, hitting the floor and hitting his one big suplex, a deep belly to back. He tried to load the boot once or twice before finally luring Perez in with a kick to take over. Then he pulled out a hidden object and went to work. Perez bled and Sheik gnawed on the wound and kept pulling him up until the ref eventually called it off and Invader ran in to get revenge. I am ready for this Sheik run.  

EB: We’ve been following the arrival of Atkie Malumba, El Profe’s newest acquisition. Let’s watch him in action against Herbert Gonzalez

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIU2Xd08UnQ 

This match is short and Herbert really doesn’t have much of a chance against the impressive force known as Atkie Malumba. A flying splash mercifully ends Herbert’s night and Malumba gets another dominant win. This one is going to be trouble for the members of El Ejercito de la Justicia.

MD: Malumba had a pretty good idea how to work a two minute squash, taking him right to the outside and never giving him a chance. Best part of this was the glaring light in the background that made it seem like Malumba was flying right out of the sun itself as he crashed down with the top rope splash.

EB: Our last highlight from the March 31st tv is a video showcasing some of the history between Carlos Colon and Abdullah the Butcher, mainly highlights from when they started feuding again in 1985 and the subsequent ammonia attack that blinded Carlos in 1986. They will be facing off for the Universal title tonight and it’s a reminder that eventually, both men will end up colliding time and time again.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErqKGRWdFN4 

MD: It’s always surreal to see that Flair/Dory vs Carlos/Abdullah match. Of all of the Memphis-y stuff in PR, it might be the most so. Colon accidentally hits Abby and it all falls apart. They really did a great job getting the idea across that Colon will always have to face Abdullah until the day that they die and just how terrible and horrific that fate is.

EB: So for the March 31st card, we actually have video for a couple of matches. The card lineup is as follows: Abdulalh the Butcher defends the Universal title against Carlos Colon, Invader #1 takes on the Iron Sheik, Los Mercenarios defend the World tag team titles against the Super Medicos, Leo Burke takes on Pierre Martel, Eddie Watts faces Invader #4, Rick Valentine takes on Miguelito Perez, and Huracaa Castillo is set to take on El Gran Mendoza. These last two matches are the ones we have video off.

Let’s go first to the match between Huracan Castillo and El Gran Mendoza, two men who have been longtime rivals in the junior heavyweight division.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRIklSDgM5A

I’ve mentioned before that Castillo and Mendoza had a rivalry over the World Junior title back in 1987 and here in March of 1990 they’re facing off again. The match is joined in progress with Mendoza trying for an unsuccessful cover of Castillo. Mendoza continues on the attack with a fireman’s carry that leads to Castillo being dropped on the top turnbuckle, followed by a slam and double stomp by Mendoza. After Mendoza briefly argues with the crowd, he puts a sleeper on Castillo. This is countered with a back suplex and both men are down on the mat. Mendoza is up first but misses an elbow and Castillo counters with a running elbow drop of his own. Castillo is a bit slow in following up and is caught with a kick to the head by Mendoza, which leads to a pin attempt. Mendoza hits a neckbreaker and again only gets a two count. Mendoza maintains control for the next few minutes despite Castillo’s attempts at making a comeback (such as a sleeper attempt that is quickly broken up by Mendoza). Huracan turns the tide by just slugging Mendoza across the face and following up with several blows including a high knee. Castillo goes into a punching stance and tees off on a staggered Mendoza, who tries to beg off. Castillo continues on the attack with a kneedrop and backdrop, but a splash is blocked by Mendoza’s knees.  Mendoza attempts a flying body press from the top but Castillo catches him and rolls over for a two count. Castillo leapfrogs over Mendoza and rolls him up in an inside cradle for the pin. Another win for Huracan Castillo Jr and he stays in the hunt for the World Junior title. 

MD: This got some time and we even came in JIP. This might be the best I’ve seen Mendoza look. He had some really good stuff with a fireman’s carry heft onto the top turnbuckle, a double stomp, a nice neckbreaker, some good strikes. Castillo kept firing back but then missed a big move including a nasty bump in the corner. Eventually he did get control and fired off a lot of shots, punches and slaps, playing on a striking lineage. Even then, he had to win this with a small package which seemed a bit much against Mendoza.

EB: We also have video of Miguelito Perez taking on Rick Valentine. We’ve previously seen Carl Styles and Rick Valentine form an alliance due to the Caribbean tag title tournament, but unfortunately Carl Styles was injured during a match in late March and will be out of action for the foreseeable future. So it looks like Valentine will be focusing more on singles action now.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOMGcoXnEGg 

As Hugo mentions on commentary, Perez and Valentine have already wrestled each other before and Miguelito is looking to even up the score. Miguelito immediately goes right after Valentine, not giving him a chance to get his ring jacket off. Perez fires off several punches, corner rams and a dropkick to waylay Valentine at the start. The referee manages to hold back Miguelito long enough so that Valentine can finally get his ring jacket off. Hugo notes that Valentine is the master of the bionic elbow as Perez picks the attack back up. Rick eventually rolls out of the ring to stop the assault and regroup with Chicky at ringside.  Valentine demands that the ref keep Perez at bay but once again Perez charges and begins to attack Valentine. A corner charge by Perez is dodged by Valentine, finally giving Rick the first opening of the match. Valentine takes too long climbing the turnbuckle though, and Perez throws him off and starts back on offense with a clothesline and armdrag takedown. Perez remains in control for the next few minutes, mainly working the arm. The match continued with Perez mainly in control and, although Valentine would get brief moments where it looked like he would turn the tide (such as throwing Perez through the ropes to the outside), Miguelito would usually cut Valentine off quickly and go back on the attack. One gambit that works for Valentine is faking a knee injury after a leapfrog. This gives him enough time to leave Perez open to hit him with an elbow and then toss him outside, where Chicky would throw Perez into the ringpost. The ref starts making the count on Perez but he is able to get to the apron. Valentine grabs Perez and hits a few blows, then hits a back suplex in the ring for a two count. Valentine continues to attack Miguelito’s head and neck area, getting another two count off a swinging neckbreaker. Valentine tosses Perez back outside and we hear Hugo mention that Valentine is having a feud with TNT at the moment this match aired. Perez manages to block Valentine on the apron and regains control with several punches. Perez tries a pin off a clothesline and from there both men go back and forth making different pin attempts. The match ends when Perez tries to take down Valentine with a rollover, but Valentine holds onto the ropes and Perez instead falls backwards, smacking his head on the mat. Valentine follows up with his bionic elbow drop and gets the win.

MD: Kerry Brown was a perfectly good wrestler, a Stampede mainstay, a credible third foreigner in a late 80s NJPW trios match (you know, because you need someone to take the fall). I’m not sure I’m feeling him as a viable TNT opponent. Still, as a stooging jerk who looked more like a fake Buddy Rose than a fake Valentine family member (great elbow drop or no), he fit in well here in Puerto Rico. That meant bumping and flailing about as Perez kept the advantage early, having a few moments where he schemed to get over only to have it swept away from him due to Perez’s skill, and then finally taking over and keeping the advantage with Chicky’s help. Chicky definitely made people more than what they might have been otherwise. This turned out to be a good match and despite the chicanery mid-match, Valentine basically won clean, but he sure gave Perez a lot along the way. Maybe if he had Jason the Terrible as a heater I’d buy him more as a threat to the champion. 

EB: As for the other matches from March 31st, the big news is that there were two title changes that night. The Super Medicos finally won the World tag team titles and Carlos Colon regained the Universal title once more. We’ll discuss what awaits the new champions next time. One team that was looking to also regain some title gold was the Invaders, who were not happy with how Chicky and Burke won the Caribbean tag titles. Burke and Chicky granted the Invaders a rematch, but…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YR7ppEL00uA 

Burke and Chicky have granted the Invaders a rematch, but it is a non-title match, something that Hugo and Carlos are not happy about on commentary (but not surprised considering it is Chicky Starr). The crowd is loud and also not happy that it's a non-title match. Chicky is wary to lock up with Invader #4, as Invader #1 keeps jumping into the ring to psych Chicky out. Carlos and Hugo continue talking about how it’s expected for champions to defend their titles and not take the coward’s way out. Burke and Chicky continue stalling but eventually Invader #4 and Chicky locked up. The exchange goes in favor of Invader #4, who hits a series of twisting armdrags on Chicky and finishes with a head scissors on the outside. Carlos mentions how Maelo has been impressive with his maneuvers so far as part of the new Invaders tag team. Burke and Invader #1 are tagged in and again it goes the Invaders way, with attempted double teams by the rudos backfiring. Burke falls victim to a series of arm wringers and quick tags from the Invaders. Chciky tries to interfere and the Invaders take the opportunity to switch out twice. We go to commercial and come back to Chicky being armdragged and then going to the outside of the ring. This leads to the Invaders hitting a series of topes on both rudos when Burke tries to help Chicky. The Invaders celebrate in the ring as Burke and Chicky are beat up on the outside. Chicky is bleeding from the forehead. The crowd starts getting on Chicky’s case as Burke gets back in the ring. Burke gets a sleeper on Invader #1 but they are too close to the tecnico corner and Invader #4 is tagged in. Burke is still with the sleeper and doesn't see Invader #4 come in, and is surprised when invader #1 gets out of the way and Invader #4 hits a monkey flip on Leo. Burke manages to grab Invader #4 and calls Chicky in to help double team but Invader #4 gets loose and instead Chicky monkey flips Burke instead. Nothing has gone right for the rudos so far.

The rudos escape to the outside but are taken out by a flying cross body press. Finally the rudos get a segment of control when Burke gets back in the ring and is able to take down Invader #4.  Burke and Chicky are able to maintain control on Invader #4 but are not able to put him away.   At one point Chicky puts on an abdominal stretch on Invader #4 and Burke helps by adding leverage from the outside, but Invader #1 does not take the bait and stays in his corner. Eventually, Invader #1 chooses his spot and comes in to break up the hold. Burke hits a neckbreaker and puts on the figure four, a move that we know will end this sooner than later if Invader #4 does not get out of it. Invader #1 wastes no time in breaking the hold and also breaks up a follow-up spinning toe hold by Chicky. Invader #4 eventually is able to make the tag to his brother and Invader #1 comes in cleaning house on both rudos. Invader #1 hits atomic drops on both rudos and Invader #4 joins the others in the ring. Eventually, it is Burke and Invader #1 who are left duking it out in the ring. As Chicky tries to interfere, Invader #4 sees him coming and comes off the top with a body press, which the ref counts for the win. I’m not sure who was the legal man for each team but it’s a win for the Invaders. Perhaps now they’ll get their title rematch. Or will Chicky and Leo still try to find a way to weasel out of it? We ‘ll continue following this rivalry as we move into April.

MD: Chicky and Leo were obviously too cowardly to put the titles up here. It started with the usual hesitation from Chicky. He matched up very well with Invader 4 though. For all the credit we give Chicky, I think personally, I didn’t realize how great a base he was. He was there for everything Invader 4 did, the tricked out arm drags and the headscissors takeover using the apron. The topes from the Invaders with the other Invader holding each rudo looked wild here. They had the fans buzzing. They did a really fun tit-for-tat spot where an Invader held a rudo in the corner for a monkey flip and when the rudos tried it, they ended up monkey flipping one another. Then, as the icing on the cake, the Invaders hit another huge dive from the top to the floor Just high octane stuff here. The shine was two thirds of the match but the roles were now reversed, with Chicky and Burke the vulnerable heel champs. Plus a little went a long way as Chicky and Burke were very effective in dismantling Invader 4 in just a few minutes. Invader 1 came in hot after the tag and things had that usual chaotic flavor until Invader 4 was able to fly in with a body press for the non-title win. Another really good tag in a string of them.

EB: To finish off this installment, let’s go to a match featuring TNT taking on one of the more surprising wrestlers to make an appearance in CSP so far. We had no idea before coming across the footage that this wrestler actually made an appearance in the first half of April.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oEipWA6pDHU 

It's TNT taking on Mister Saito! Or as Eliud Gonzalez calls him on commentary, Master Saito. Yes, it seems Saito made a brief stop in CSP at some point in the first half of April. It’s a short match, but a surprise to see this take place in 1990 Puerto Rico. Eliud on commentary mentions that the crowd is excited to see a wrestler of Saito’s caliber appear in a CSP ring against TNT. The match itself saw Saito control most of the match, with TNT making a comeback and both men getting counted out as they kept fighting at ringside. It does make me curious about what matches Saito had during his brief stop. 

MD: This felt like a WCW Worldwide special with just a bit more heat and gravitas. They accomplish a ton in 4 minutes. Saito was an old pro of the territories and he fit in immediately here. He knew when to feed, how to work from underneath as a heel having his arm wrenched, when to get a cheapshot in, how much to take on a control. TNT came back and things spilled out to the floor, getting pretty violent as the two of them got counted out. It was a nice visit at least. Shame it wasn’t longer.

EB: Next time on El Deporte de las Mil Emociones, we delve further into April 1990 as we find out what’s next for Carlos Colon after regaining the Universal title, the Invaders continue to chase Burke and Chicky, some more potential title changes may be on the horizon, and yet another candidate for most surprising wrestler to pop in for a shot in Puerto Rico 1990.

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