Segunda Caida

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

Saturday, January 28, 2023

WWE Royal Rumble 1/28/23 Live Blog

ER: Who's ready to read the opinions of a man who hasn't watched a current WWE match since last year's WrestleMania?? Who's ready to read the scratchings of a man who is only barely acquainted with the hierarchy of the current roster?? Who's ready to read the fumblings of a man who knows nothing of current storylines?? Well then you are in for a treat, because I have found such a man. I don't know who HARDY is but I'm going to assume it's a Kurt Sutter persona. 

Doesn't Pat McAfee work there? 

1. Men's Rumble Match

ER: So Gunther is a cool #1 right? Excited to see Keto Walter. Starting him with Sheamus is even better, but I don't think they did very much with their 90. Forearm exchanges and running into a chop, I expect more. Sheamus works more stiff with Miz than with Gunther. Nice of Kofi to come in to interrupt Gunther and Sheamus killing Miz only to hit a bunch of shitty looking offense. Too much rope running in modern Rumbles, and it's practically every damn entrance. The second the match deviates from guys walking around punching each other, it just looks like a series of 20 badly done hot tags. Luckily Xavier Woods comes in to play Bad Eliminators Offense with Kofi. The backsplash and elbowdrop at the end looked good. KARRION KROSS IS STILL HERE? Wild that the Dudley Dudley of Basham Bros. is still here. What's his thing now? Did they take Gable's first name away and then give it back, or did I just assume they were calling him Gable? Karrion Kross is Renegade. I want to root for Escobar but those were some real timing and placing issues during his entrance, does that thing I hate where he comes into a Rumble and just starts working stupid regular match offense. 

Has there not been any kind of roster churn whatsoever in the past year? This is the 2021 roster so far. Okay, Brock is the exact kind of energy this Rumble needed. Rumbles need more desperation and one Really Dangerous Guy in there. RIP Santos, sorry about your hip Chad, touch break on the neck Sheamus. A series of singles matches with not a single swarming dogpile. Are they going with Banger Bros? Rollins and Gargano do the dumbest series of reversals wrestling while Dominik makes his entrance. Dominik has great taste in tights. Did I hear right? Is Balor a Dominik underling? Man what has happened in the past year. A Sheamus/Drew vs. Dominik/Balor straight tag would be really good. 

Damn Booker looks in the exact same shape as he did a decade ago. Is there any old man Booker I need to see from Reality of Wrestling? What has been done to Gunther's back this match? We all love our boys who welt up good. Montez Ford looks huge compared to a year or two ago. He is larger than Dawkins. It doesn't matter how long it's been since I've seen any part of the product, Edge Returns somehow always find me. Maybe I'm an Edge guy now, I don't know. Beth Phoenix will never make the Bull Nakano Pillager haircut look good, it always just makes her look like a Psychlo from Battlefield Earth. Psychlo. I had to look that up. Stupid. I hate the pattern of close placements of current feuds in the Rumble Entrants. Everyone comes out in subsequent entrances, they do their angle, and then everything moves on in two minutes. It's all moments, none of them settle, none of them build. Introduction, Payoff. Sheamus and Drew are at least hitting guys for 45 minutes, everything else gets paid off in minutes. Hardly any elimination teases, which is missed. Braun almost going over actually felt like it had some suspense, just because hardly anyone had come close to being eliminated prior. Everything, or nothing. I love the idea of Logan Paul coming back for revenge on Roman. There are a shocking number of guys on this roster are not as good in the ring as Logan Paul. 

Looks like Cody took about the same amount of time away from WWE as I did. The Logan Paul/Ricochet springboard THAT'S a moment. That's a spot. Paul went full speed on that. They was a splat! How is Austin Theory even here? What an odd project. It's insane how much better Logan Paul understands what all of this is about. Just shows up ever few months and looks like an old pro. A real performer. Gunther/Cody worked up to a great final, with Gunther hammering on Cody's pec, welting him up good. Perhaps went on too long, but they peaked some moments nicely. The third act of this match was better than the first couple acts. End a 70 minute match strong is better than starting it strong. 

2. The Mountain Dew Pitch Black Match

ER: Boy, for Bray Wyatt is back in the ring for the first time in two years, and I'm hear to witness it? I can really choose 'em. It would be so undignified to take a choke bomb and land on your head surrounded by Spencer's gifts black light posters. Has that popcorn been out there the whole time just because it looks cool getting scattered under black light? Probably a good call. I heard Mountain Dew Pitch Black is citrus flavored which feels feels really incorrect. The market for a good grape soda is wide open. We have sugary citrus sodas. Perfect the grape. Bray looks like the worst worker in a Gringo Loco stable. This was a waste of everyone's time. Uncle Howdy lands 3' wide on the elbow to put a cherry on this shit sundae. 51,338 people all sitting in a dome watching that. 

3. Bianca Belair vs. Alexa Bliss

ER: I cannot believe Bray Wyatt has his hands in this many angles in 2023. How did anybody let this happen?? I like Alexa's kicks to the ribs, but the poorly timed combos offense doesn't play into that, and it makes the control come off cold and out of place. I couldn't believe how quiet the crowd was when Bianca was muscling Bliss around her body to suplex her. Too much of this feels like they're just getting into position for things, and the routine isn't smooth. These combos have no punch at all, no rhythm. This was bad. I don't think there was a single exchange that looked natural or didn't require one of them to hold still in a dumb position. 

4. Women's Rumble Match

ER: Is this match going to be filled with 2021 women in the same way the Men's Rumble was the exact damn same roster? They're still billing Dana Brooke as a strongwoman? She's smaller than Liv Morgan now. Man this is a sloppy mess. It's all half speed move exchanges and half of them look botched. I don't know Roxanne Perez, but she has better energy than anyone else in there right now. Although Rhea did wipe blood on her face. Dakota Kai runs and elbows Liv Morgan in the mouth in her first second in the ring. Man I get Natalya's return too? I am killing it. Natalya's new thinner nose makes her look like a Hemingway sister. I'm glad she didn't go back to the extensions. Are they getting away from extensions now? There's a lot of neon now too. Everything is really bright in that ring. 

Asuka looks incredible. The One mask, the face paint, dance fighting the camera with her body. Iyo Sky is doing a great job staying busy in the background during everyone's entrances. She's just standing over people wailing on them, which is what I want to see. I think I like Chelsea Green more than most but that's fucked. Is this one of those Good Soldier things? I don't know when Raquel went from Gonzalez to Rodriguez but I love her throwing clotheslines. 30 wrestlers who run into the ring and dodge strikes from four other wrestlers in succession. "She's wearing Uggs right now! And she's dealing European uppercuts!" Asuka working ankle locks in the corner on Niven. The Lacey Evans cobra clutch elimination was awesome, Vega just sank to elimination like a rock in a lake. Everyone is doing a lot of weird mute pantomime. Lacey Evans is the only one making sound. I thought the Nia stuff was great, can't believe she was gone for 16 months, but her attitude getting into the ring was perfect. Some of the choreographed stuff at the end, and a bunch of them were good at hanging by the ropes with swinging legs. Ripley was the best throughout, involved in a ton of sequences and showing how much they love winners coming out in the #1 spot. Match picked up down the stretch and I think would have come off stronger if it wasn't as messy in spots. 

5. Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens

ER: The time in between matches is too much, but I have appreciated my snack and drink and stretch breaks. Fat elderly cats don't play with themselves. I'm really happy how excited everyone seems for the Sami Zayn angle. I was never an El Generico guy, but around 2020 he started turning into one of my absolute favorite in-ring guys in WWE. All it took was him working more Buck Robley into his style and he became the best. It's tough working a big main event after two 70 minute matches, but these two feel up to it. Owens has nice punches for this kind of match and both are taking the bumps for it. Owens' frog splashes off the apron and off the top landed flush, the cannonball had big impact, and he sold the first Superman punch like a PEZ dispenser. Owens falling off the top rope and landing on Roman's ribs is a happy accident. This was not that, but I miss guys working blown spots into their matches. Chris Hamrick and Juvy were great at it. They should have just played up that it was another attack on Roman's ribs. I never liked Reigns as a trash talker, but I think he's great as the stoic asskicker. The gray in his beard silent looks are a great vibe, and when he's flashing the dead eyes at his own boys it can be real cold. The beatdown went long but I liked it. The pop Sami got sounded great in a big stadium, and then the real hate Roman drew after. Long, but strong ending. 

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Friday, January 27, 2023

Found Footage Friday: BRAZOS~! IN~! PANAMA~! MURDOCH~! ABBY~!

Abdullah the Butcher vs. Dick Murdoch AJPW 7/14/83

MD: Past one hold and one big, earthshattering move (more on these in a minute) this is around ten minutes of great strikes, including the post-match brawling after Murdoch got sick of it all and tossed and atomic elbow smashed the ref when he tried to get in the way of revenge smashing of Abdullah in the corner. Murdoch made good use of those downwards elbows and some great standing tall punches. Abdullah is, of course, the master of the block and cut-off strike, but Murdoch managed a great block of his own early so he could start firing back with fists to the skull; he even made sure to sell his fist after a punch late in the game. Abby, on the other hand, came back with crushing headbutts and a ton of inside shots. That hold? Not the usual nervehold, but Abby wrenching on both ears at once (he'd even target an ear with shots afterwards), and that big move? After Murdoch survived the elbow, he was able to catch Abby off the rope with a slam. He hit his own elbow after, but only for two. Simple and basic and primal. Exactly what you'd want between these two.

ER: I've seen this variation of The Dick Murdoch Match so many times, and cannot see ever tiring of it. Two men punching and elbowing each other around the ring, staggering, holding their faces, throwing 90% arm strikes but never seeming to throw anything the same way twice. It's punching and throat thrusting and headbutts and 12 to 6 elbows but at no point does it turn into any kind of rhythmic exchange, it's just them knocking each other around their own private 324 square foot stage. The joy of seeing all of these punches and strikes is equal to how well each man sells these punches and strikes. Dick knew how to let each punch and elbow breathe, and Abby knew how to sell each one like it was doing the damage you'd expect. The way Abby holds his jaw, drops to his knee, teeters backward, is minimalist but all fine attention to detail. 

These are tough men, and seeing them just throw back and forth would surely be entertaining, but nowhere near as interesting as watching them take a hit, react to that hit, and try to get off a hit as a means of fending off the next one. Abby is a great counter-striker, and I love how he uses counter strikes to set up worse strikes, like slashing at Dick's throat to drop him to a knee, then rushing in with a downward aimed punch right into the ear. The whole match is moments like that, and then Murdoch throws a referee into a too-fast bump to the floor. You might say that these men don't look like athletes, and you'd be correct. But these men move like beautiful trained dancers. Mr. Narrator, this is Baryshnikov to me.  

MD: Winner of this match would receive a title shot against no one less than the Brazos, who had won the titles against Los Misioneras de la Muerte, so we're holding out hope that feud shows up too. Really though, all of this stuff is an amazing discovery and I'm so glad it's popping up regularly now. They had run some angles to take out Gemelo 3 on the rudo side and someone on the tecnico side to slip in some slightly bigger partners because you need some big guys against the Brazos apparently. We're starting to hit critical mass on this footage where we should have some more sense about who Celestial or Idolo were as workers. What I can tell you, and I think previous matches back this up, is that one of the Gemelos is super smooth (had a great pairing with Celestial) and the other is a huge heatseeker. Ursus was larger and played the strength card, kind of reminding me of an Ivan Putski that could move somewhat better. To put it into perspective, he won the last fall with a bearhug. That was the big triumphant moment. During the initial beatdown, the Gemelos were great in dual headbutting him.

This had initial exchanges and then broke down and stayed broken down for the rest of the match. They did a false comeback from the tecnicos to set up the finish of the first fall and then a real one in the second that just sort of seemed to go on and on. There was a ton of mask ripping, maybe some blood, and just outright chaos for ten minutes or so. The tecnico win was big and celebratory, a testament to the crowds in Panama but made all the sweeter due to the stakes of the match and the fact that they'd now be able to face the Brazos.

MD: As best we can tell, this is NOT the title match (even though we have the promos for that, including the Brazos being very serious and respectful) but a revancha for the tecnicos that followed. If I'm totally honest, there are things I would have liked to see just a little bit different in the third fall, but overall, this more than lived up to my expectations. This was in an outdoor stadium and you get the sense that there was a big crowd somewhere in there even if they weren't swarming the ringside area and even if we couldn't see them in the stands. They were vocal, especially when the action went way over the top. The Brazos were keen to start a riot too, rushing out of the ring at the start to stall and jaw with the fans.

After that, it was all action for the first two falls, Brazo getting an early advantage and just beating the local heroes down in a big way, using their size and the numbers game whenever they'd try to fight back. It all built to Porky crushing people off the top rope and with a huge senton (after which he lounged for the pin). The second fall kept the beatdown going. There was some crazy stuff on the outside with Oro and Idolo (who was the singles champ in Panama at this point) with Oro just chucking the stairs at him and when the comeback happened, the fans went nuts as Idolo just charged through chairs at him. Everyone seemed to want to get their hands on Idolo as Celestial and Idolo both tore him apart; speaking of tearing apart, the Brazos masks were left in tatters to the point where they were either falling off or you could just clearly see who these guys were. It was a great comeback though and the fans were up for it. The tercera was more straightforward, with the Brazos continuing to struggle heading towards the big revancha win. I would have maybe liked to see more of their usual antics if they were going to go that route. Or some other big moments in here (like Ursus slamming Porky maybe?), but the fans were pretty happy with what they got, including a pile on for one pin and some acceptable wires-crossing miscommunication on the tecnicos both going after the guy and violent chaos on the actual finish. Post match there were challenges made on the mic. It's safe to say the Brazos fit right in here; hopefully we get the title match and even more.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Tuesday is French Catch Day: Blaire! McDonald! Primitiv! Lopez! Malpard! Marquis! Angelito! Gordon! Shadow! Frederico!

Linda Blaire vs Nicky McDonald 7/21/84

SR: It‘s a womens match. This was better than other 80s womens matches I‘ve seen from Europe, but that‘s not a high bar given that women were traditionally discriminated against in European wrestling. There was some decent stuff in here but not the super athletic shit you are used to see from French wrestlers. The annoying thing about the match was that it was part of that Le Dernier Manchette show where they kept cutting to certain members of the crowd and Roger Delaporte commentating. I have no idea if they still ran actual wrestling in the Elysee Montemartre at this stage or if these matches were just basically exhibitions for this documentary type TV show.

MD: The whole episode is here but it's timestamped to the start of the match. What I can say safely is that there's connection. The bald fan with mutton chops from the studio show is there in the crowd and causing antics. They focus on him (and a female fan) quite a bit, and do "cut back" to the studio where they're obviously not watching this live as the extra were just told to wave their hand randomly to some imaginary action. That means we miss a bit here and there but never much. The match itself felt like the middle ground between Moolah-ism and the French style. They hit hard. There were holds and takeovers. There were also hairpulls/tosses. It couldn't hold a candle even to the 70s Lola Garcia match we saw. That said, I think it would have held up pretty well to any comparable women's match in the States in the 80s and they filled the time well. Blaire was the heel and I liked her antics and in-between moments. She'd clap for herself after a front chancery takeover or scream a bit "Yeah!" as she was doing a slam. Big clubbering shots too, that sort of thing. And blatant low blows that you just kind of had to go with (she got a public warning for one). McDonald had some huge fiery comebacks the sort that drew public warnings. Her best was when she slammed McDonald onto the apron repeatedly after pulling her out. Objectively solid, but harder to watch in context.

Le Primitiv vs Patrick Lopez 8/1/84

MD: Look, if Mombo was coming to my town in 1984, I'd go and see him. Granted, I was a toddler in 1984, but still. The automatic translation on youtube called him a "real frenzied Mongolian plush toy" and that seems as accurate as anything else. Honestly, he was developing the act from the last time we saw him! There was more dancing to the tribal band's constant drumming now. He still hit the crazy tope and the top rope legdrop. This was just a wild scene. Lopez looked right out of the late 50s. He did all the up and overs and handstand ranas and cartwheels and rolls. He bumped big out of the ring and bumped Mombo big out of the ring. If we had him against Pellacani or Peruano or even Bernaert, it'd be another thing. Against Mombo, it ended up looking like some of the loosest work we've seen in the footage. They were playing at it instead of doing it. It was entertaining and didn't wear out its welcome but it felt more like parody than anything else.

SR: Bless Patrick Lopez, because god damn he tried. This would‘ve been a fun match on New Catch. Although the logic of the primitive monkey man knowing knuckle locks and tope suicidas eludes me.

Gerald Malpard vs. Marquis Edouard Fumolo de la Rossignolette 8/1/84

SR: More old man catch. I could see people digging the Marquis and his act, especially with him having a valet and all that, but the workrate isn‘t winning me over.

MD: Again, it's all relative. Richard in this role has completely changed his act and he's still developing it week to week and adding little flourishes. Some of the bits of the valet coming in and dusting the opponent while he's in a hold or just the way the match started with him jamming Malpard three or four times before getting his comeuppance was wonderful BS. He still hit hard. He wasn't afraid to bump. He was a full step slow and a little ginger in his movement, half for the gimmick, half not. Would I have rather seen him instead of the Rene Goulets of the world on a 1984 WWF undercard? Absolutely. Could he have had a great few week run against Jerry Lawler or Austin Idol in 1984 Memphis? Absolutely. He worked the gimmick into every moment and got full mileage out of the valet. Would we have gotten a better match if we had 20 minutes of stylist-vs-stylist worked to a draw Lopez vs Malpard (who was game here, bumping big, getting sympathy and having a way of just tossing himself recklessly at the Marquis)? Yeah, we would had. This was fun bullshit, entertaining. I'd say, given the length, it's absolutely worth watching! It just lacked the actual wrestling underpinning we even got from classic Duranton. And for those who have been following along, you know exactly what that means.

Angelito/Flesh Gordon vs Black Shadow/Eliot Frederico 8/1/84

SR: 2/3 Falls match going roughly 25 minutes. You know, these late period French tags may not be as good as the classic stuff, but I‘m really enjoying them. A big part of that is Angelito, who has really great body control and just moves so gracefully around. In this match, Frederico was also part of that. I don‘t know what got into him, but he decided to beat the shit out of Flesh Gordon with great looking punch combos. This match also had some blatantly Lucha spots. There was even a sunset flip powerbomb to the floor (!!) and Frederico launching Angelito with a military press onto Gordon who was busy outside. This was not just a spots match, though. Angelito ended up taking a big bump in the 2nd fall and spent much of the fall laid out All Japan style while Flesh was in peril. It didn‘t build to a kind of amazing conclusion but it was a neat choice of structure. It‘s cool that they were trying new things while sticking to the old rhythm even in the dying days of the territory.

MD: Sebastian hit this one pretty well. Angelito was very impressive, though there were times where he'd do one extra flip to turn something already impressive into something just a little over the top or not quite as smooth as it had been up until then. Gordon looked better here than the last time we saw him. He really understood how to work from underneath and had just enough flashy stuff to get by, including that up and over flip mare driver thing that he hits multiple times in this one (but each one was a killshot basically). Shadow was solid as ever, just a real pro at taking stuff and bumping big. Frederico is a guy I badly wish we had five years earlier, because while he doesn't keep up quite as well, his puncher's gimmick is just great. We've had so few boxing gimmicks in the footage, and I think this might be the first heel with it and it's perfect for the way these tags work. You mainly want the heels to be able to clobber and smash and grind the stylists down and he can just unload on someone in the corner. Angelito's big catapult bump over the top gave it all real drama even if they couldn't give the heels even one pinfall and the finish seemed just a bit wonky with the double sunset flips seeming to finish it but not quite, but overall, this was another good tag even deep into 1984.

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Monday, January 23, 2023

AEW Five Fingers of Death 1/16 - 1/22

AEW Dynamite 1/18

Bryan Danielson vs Bandido

MD: Danielson's tour of guys with a ton of raw physical talent continues (and will continue to continue with Brian Cage ahead of him). This was the most complete Danielson match we've had in a couple of months, probably since the Dax match, and he worked de facto heel here considering how into Bandido the crowd was, which made it all the better. It was a taste of a world that never was, the one where Danielson got to visit Arena Mexico and work Hechicero fourth from the top since CMLL didn't have any idea who he was, and maybe even the one where he got to work Blue Panther or Negro Navarro for the FLLM title in front of a few hundred people. While there was a feeling out process and while the finishing stretch was pretty even, with a lot of payoff and counters, there was a bit after that feeling out and before the commercial break and the quasi-heat where Danielson let Bandido shine with technique followed by power followed by speed and he looked like a mindblowing star. For that minute or so, it was hard to even process the way he was shifting gears.

After that things calmed down and Danielson was able to really stretch. There are pros and cons to the AEW commercial breaks but with a guy like Danielson in there who can hit hard, who can make every impact matter, who can engage the crowd, who just breathes pro wrestling, it works more often than not. It certainly worked here and even allowed for some time for the leg to recover after the nudo. Bandido has so many tools in the belt to come back with (here it was power), and the stretch had some bits I liked, especially Bandido getting lost in the moment and not capitalizing and Danielson seemingly wanting to win with a lucha-styled move like the Casita instead of playing fully to his strength that let Bandido get a nearfall or two n him. I'm not going to say everything was smooth, but the instincts were there, the constant struggle, the constant reaching for a limb, that even when something didn't hit smooth, the roughness only helped the visceral attempt at what they were trying to accomplish. The actual finish, to me, felt like a superior batter having to see a pitcher a few times to learn how to hit him. Danielson came in having never wrestled Bandido and having not wrestled someone of his style for a while and as the match went on, he adapted to him more and more, until he was able to catch him with the knee perfectly. Maybe that was just in my head, but it's something I like having in my head, so we're going to go with it.

Darby Allin vs KUSHIDA

MD: This was very good and I'm finding myself with very little to say about it. It's great right now that they are maximizing the roster/openness and having both Darby and Danielson up against different and varied opponents each week. And now that Negro Casas is over to AAA I want both match-ups yesterday. We all want Danielson vs Casas but Darby vs Casas with Darby creating all the motion would maybe even be better. This was all about the armwork, of course. KUSHIDA was excellent in creating opportunities for himself to open that up. Darby, more so than almost any wrestler I can think of, earns his victories through sheer endurance alone. He had to survive long enough for an opening to appear. That was basically it. In the meantime, they were able to manage spots like the flip off the top which were cooperative but still believable, as KUSHIDA made Darby go over and basically bump himself off the top huge so as not to dislocate his arm further.

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Sunday, January 22, 2023

2022 Ongoing MOTY List: AEW 8 Man Tornado

16. The Hardys/Sting/Darby Allin vs. Private Party/The Butcher and the Blade AEW Dynamite 3/23

ER: Man this rocked. Jeff Hardy debuted the previous week in a big way against Private Party, and I love how he kept the chaos going. At the same time, this continued the improbably, amazing run of Sting, somehow putting in his greatest work of the century in his early 60s. Tony Schiavone has been so good on commentary during Sting matches, and I loved the brotherhood in his voice when Sting flew too too far with an early match plancha onto everyone. Tony is totally beside himself, talking about how he told Sting to "not do crazy things like that anymore", but laughing to himself at the same time. 

The action splits up and goes all over the arena, and really the only bad thing about the entire match is that we couldn't possibly see everything happening. Every pairing looked like it was worth seeing, at least based off what we were able to see. Everybody played into their role and did it well. Jeff had this crazy clothesline over the barricade (silly me thinking that would be the most reckless thing Jeff would attempt), Blade bumps all over for him, Darby falls down stairs and gets ragdolled by Butcher, and the action flowed really well from ring to ringside to crowd to backstage. 

Jeff did a crazy swanton off a concourse window ledge, never denying his yarder's heart. Teenage backyarders have that skateboarder mentality of looking for things to do a move off of, and here's a broken Jeff still looking for ledges that would be cool to stunt dive from. A majorly underrated part of the spot was Sting holding Butcher and the Blade onto the tables during Jeff's climb and then bailing out at the last possible moment. That kind of attention to detail is the perfect encapsulation of Sting's veteran knowledge and how the smallest things can make a match great. Matt Hardy looked awesome during the finishing stretch, like he and Private Party had been feuding for years. Private Party have come a long way in the past couple years, and they're getting so much better at feeding for offense and moving into position. I thought the finish was spectacular, as at this point I fully believe that Sting is as crazy as Terry Funk ever was and would be foolishly willing to take a frankensteiner into a cutter. Sting hopping off the middle buckle and blocking the cutter, dropping into a dragon sleeper and fighting up to his feet for the Scorpion Death Drop was such an awesome moment, timed expertly with a Twist of Fate. This is the most hyped I've ever been for Sting, a man still gaining new fans into his AARP membership. 


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Friday, January 20, 2023


MD: Baba really charges right in at Joe here and starts on him in the corner before tossing him out and threatening to go after him. If he had, this might be in the running for a really great sub-five minute match. Joe came to no-sell Baba's head chop, which is a pretty alarming sight to be honest. That led to a great moment where he took over briefly with an eye rake, only for Baba to get annoyed that he wasn't selling the chop and hit an eye rake of his own. Baba most certainly got it. In fact, the reason why he didn't chase him out early was so he could chase him out the second time that he tossed him, a payoff to that initial tease that would lead to the match ultimately getting thrown out. This was more of a weird few minutes than anything else, but you can't fault either Baba's savvy or that early intensity.

ER: This was Gypsy Joe's first All Japan match, one of IWE's big foreign stars going after the big All Japan Boss after his old home fed's dissolution. This was the beginning of a several year run in All Japan for Joe, but watching this out of context you might wonder if this guy who isn't selling Baba chops would ever work Japan again. Joe even puffs his chest out and challenges Baba to chop him some more, and then ignores those! When Baba tosses him to the floor and Joe comes back in immediately with a chair, I love that we got to see a little bit of panic from Baba, and even more I love that Baba dropped down quick to a knee to sell Joe's first chop of the match (a great overhand in the corner). You bet Baba's chops got even harder the rest of the match. It's funny that "Baba Chops" were a running joke among "smart" fans for years, but they really are fucking great. His knife edge chops really do pack wallop, and his classic overhands look like a giant smashing the heel of his palm right into the crown of Joe's head. Joe can no sell those all he wants, he's definitely taking a full blow to the dome. 

Steve Williams vs. Keiji Mutoh NJPW 5/26/90

MD: Williams had a very weird spring 1990, bouncing between All Japan and New Japan. To put things into perspective, he was working All Japan on the 23rd and New Japan on the 24th, and then was back to All Japan (where he had a great Hansen match) by the start of June. And he had done a New Japan shot in February too, so, just a weird period. No one else really was jumping around like that, but then Williams was a pretty special talent at the time. He hit the ring with a crazy intensity, threw people around, threw himself around, and so on. In some ways, Mutoh was an ideal opponent for him too. He was one of the only guys in Japan who could work up out of a chinlock like an American babyface (young Kobashi being another and they had a fun match the next month where Kobashi did just that).

When this match was Williams or Mutoh throwing themselves at each other, or Williams throwing Mutoh, it was a lot of fun. Overall, though, I thought Williams either gave too much or Mutoh took too much. There were moments midway through where Williams was using backslides or small packages to work from underneath which is just completely backwards. Even when Williams dodged the moonsault and took over, it was a brief bit of control before he went careening into the post on a missed charge. There was definite electricity here, but they needed to trust the basic tenets of pro wrestling more instead of making this so even or even lopsided in Mutoh's favor.

MD: I've seen plenty of early SWS Kitao lately, and I have to tell you, it's amazing to hear a crowd so behind him. Vader, and to a lesser degree, Bigelow, did heroic work helping to make him here. Vader eating him up just a little only to let him come back huge, knock him out of the ring, and then sell the frustration and emotional weight of it by tossing chairs into the ring, was just top notch stuff. There was a moment after they started in on Saito where I thought Saito was going to take all the heat and it'd build to a massive, explosive Kitao hot tag. That was not to be, but I almost didn't mind because Saito - a guy who spent so much of his year in the states - decided to do a Dusty Rhodes impression against Bigelow, firing up big with arm twirling atomic shots and reversing a vertical suplex just for the hell of it. When they leaned, it was actually on Kitao, which makes sense, because he needed to get his reps in selling. So, it was probably the match it needed to be, untelevised and in front of this crowd, but not as good of a match as it could have been if they just used more smoke and mirrors and kept Kitao out of it. He had size and the fans were behind him. It was amazing how exposed he was by the end of 1990. Full credit to Vader here for selflessly making him look great.

ER: This really is Kitao getting to work through a few different roles in front of a large 5,000 person crowd but without any of it being taped. It's unsatisfying seeing Vader and Bam Bam hold back against him, but I guess we weren't going to get the two biggest dudes nuking him on a show that wasn't taped. They look like such monsters here. Vader in the mastodon helmet, and Bam Bam in the sleeveless gear. I prefer cap-sleeve Bam Bam as a look, but sleeveless Bam Bam has a neat circus strongman aesthetic that feels totally different. Also, Masa Saito as the smallest man in a tag match is so cool. This match was all about Vader being very VERY generous in selling Kitao's offense. My favorite part of all this might have been Vader selling for Kitao, then throwing chairs 40 feet across the arena into the ring, getting his heat back and more. Bigelow takes some huge bumps and is really quick. I'm not sure you're going to find a man this size who can take a backdrop as high as or take a snap suplex bump as fast as Bam Bam, but it probably helps when Saito is doing the tossing. Dusty Saito was a giddy surprise, using those rolling Dusty fists to power Vader into a back suplex, the kind of memorable moment that tends to happen on the best house shows. Vader really beats the shit out of Kitao after the bell on the floor, WAY more than he was hitting him during the match proper. Have you're schoolboy win, you're going to take at least a few forearms to the chest. 

MD: It's fun to see the similarities and differences between this and the Williams match. I'd still say Mutoh took a little too much of it overall, but whenever they reset to a stand up, Vader had an obvious advantage. There was also a real sense towards the end, after the comeback and during the finishing stretch, that as good as Mutoh was in hurting Vader and getting him down, he couldn't put him away, not even with the moonsault. Moreover, when he did the rolling dodge of a clothesline, it had only taken a dropkick to take Doc out. Against Vader, he had to do the rolling dodge, the jumping back kick, and then the dropkick. We lose a little bit of this when Vader's beating Mutoh around the ring, but what we do get to see is fun. The sheer momentum of Vader crashing not just into but through the connected guard rails is an impressive sight. Meanwhile, it may have taken more to get and keep Vader down, but Mutoh survived two big splashes until the third (just barely) kept him pinned. The fans were up for Mutoh's comebacks, but I bet they would have been up for them even more if he let Vader get a bit more on him.

ER: I love a nice short sprint, and this was tidy and quickly violent and cool. It didn't reach the heights it could have, but this isn't a match that really happened so it's great to see. Vader goes up early for a back suplex, but most of this is Mutoh doing everything he does full force and Vader finding cool ways to sell it by absorbing it, while punishing Mutoh. He slaps him around, hits a press slam that looks so effortless that I'm not sure I'd be able to lift my cat above my head the same way, and he really knows how to flatten a guy on elbowdrops. I love how he took hard dropkicks by basically freezing in place, more stunned than hurt. He was really great at getting into position for everything Mutoh had. My favorite might have been when he took the handspring elbow by dropping down to a knee and staggering out, then takes the (stupid) one handed bulldog straight onto his forehead, better than most I've ever seen taking that (stupid) move. The man absolutely annihilates a guardrail and always looks like the most unfuckwithable man, and the whole finishing stretch was beautiful. Look at how Mutok shoves and presses up off Vader's chest after hitting the moonsault, or how Vader sets up a Mutoh sunset flip by missing his splash. Mutoh pays for that sunset flip, and you can see how the crowd KNEW that splash was curtains. 

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Thursday, January 19, 2023

2022 Ongoing MOTY List: Arena Naucalpan Madness/Normalcy

27. Hijo del Fishman/Hijo del Pirata Morgan/Tonalli vs. Toxin/Relampago/Aster Boy IWRG 2/13

ER: Sometimes I'm just in the mood for a specific kind of Arena Naucalpan trios match. It's the kind of trios that surely happens several dozen times a year there, but they don't always have every element of what I'm seeking. I need: crazy dives, guys falling painfully into the crowd, guys getting brained by chairs that look like they came from a parent-teacher conference, blood, and at least one guy fucking up half the stuff he tries (without it slowing down any attempts at him doing and/or fucking up other stuff). This match had all of those things. 

Aster Boy bled so much (from too many edge chairshots from those rec center chairs) that he needed a full mask replacement 8 minutes in, and that didn't stop him from doing a crazy double rotation tornillo. Relampago fucked up like 3 spots in a row, including not hooking any part of his legs on a huracanrana off the apron that sent him crashing to the floor, triumphantly springing to his feet as if he stuck the landing. But he also hit a great flip dive and a crossbody off the 2nd tier, got bieled with only painful chairs to break his fall. Relampago spammed terrible looking superkicks whenever he wound up out of place, like this backyarder dude I used to know who would always panic in matches, forget what to do, and just hit DDTs. But, Relampago also hit a sick spin kick into a huracanrana that I rewound three times. Fishman and Tonalli hit a pair of crazy "don't let go" death valley drivers into the crowd, Toxin hit a sleek tornillo, Fishman - my stout king - was there to catch every dive and misplaced rana Relampago could through, and glued this all together by landing all his punches and elbows with real wallop. This is all standard Naucalpan business, but I was craving their kind of normalcy. 


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Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Tuesday is French Catch Day: Primitiv! Frederico! Cohen! Tejero! Angelito! Gordon! Piranhas!

Le Primitiv vs Eliot Frederico 7/18/84

SR: Mombo Le Primitif is among the most surreal things I've ever seen in wrestling. It looks like he got lost on his way to fighting Survival Tobita. OJ didn't even mentioned that they subtitled some of the wrestling moves in that match like it was a comic book. E.g. Mombo would do a kneedrop to the arm and it would display CRAAAAACK! on the screen, or ONK! when he got thrown outside. The guy playing Mombo seemed like a capable wrestler but had no idea how to portray this character. He did all kinds of shit, like a plancha or cartwheeling on the ropes. The crowd has no idea what to make of this and treats Frederico as a de facto face. Frederico actually throws some really nice punches here and I want to see him in a match that wasn‘t a confusing mess.

MD: Let's start with the basic facts. Primitiv was in a monkey suit of sorts. He had tribal drummers with him. They played the whole match and chanted "Mombo". Frederico was "the Rocky of the Ring" with a combo boxer gimmick and leather guy gimmick. This was pretty wild stuff. Narratively, Le Primitiv was able to control the arm early, wildly tossing him around the ring. He had some fun stuff in slamming it over the top rope or whipping him into the corner but somehow hanging on to the arm at the same time. Whenever Frederico was able to knock him out of the ring with a punch or a dropkick, he just bounded right back in like he was Brody or something. Big bump, no sell. Eventually, though, Frederico really got him with a back body drop to the floor and he didn't bounce right back in. Primitiv responded animalistically by leaping to the top and trying to cartwheel off the ropes but kept getting caught by Frederico. So things were going well until Primitiv got him out and crushed him with a dive we barely got to see and just pounded him into the seats. After that, it was basically over. He tried to do a top rope legdrop and it ended up more of a stomp and he did a standing one instead. I'm giving all of this way too much credit but it was still pretty compelling. The crazy gimmicks were almost all super athletic in one way or another and this was no exception. Wasn't as offputting as a La Bete Humaine match but it was still pretty out there. And like Sebastian says, they kept flashing words like "AUGH!" on the screen after spots. Or "SPLAT!" and Batman wasn't even in this one.

Georges Cohen vs Anton Tejero 7/18/94

SR: Fun little match that was basically a showcase for the tricks Cohen still had up in his sleeve, and the fact that even old as dirt Anton Tejero was still a bump freak. Tejero got in maybe 1 minute of offense which makes this pretty much a squash though.

MD: Thirteen minutes of pure entertainment. I'm not sure I'd call this a squash necessarily, so much as an exhibition of Cohen's counter-wrestling. Tejero was the aggressor the whole way through. It's just that Cohen had an answer for literally everything he tried except for that one minute where he was flexing his weight and tossing him about. Even then, the answer was to pull him out of the ring, beat him around the ring as he scrambled back, head back in and beat him. Both of these guys were absolute masters. Tejero was an amazing base, stooge, heavy, and maybe the best bumper-out-of-the-ring in history. They fit so many different spots and exchanges and sequences into every minute of this. They're getting up there but they can still go so fast and wrestle so smooth and bump so big. There was no drama here but everything made sense and had weight and skill to it and the crowd was happy for every second.

Flesh Gordon/Angelito vs Piranhas 3/30/84 or 7/18/84

MD: This was a fun one. The Piranhas were Sleestak looking guys with "tails" around their necks. They'd take them off and use them to choke, leading to an early first fall win as one held Angelito down and the other splashed him off the turnbuckles. One of them was a top notch clubberer and they weren't afraid to bump around the ring and take all of the stylists stuff. Gordon doesn't seem quite as slick and smooth as he was a couple of years earlier but he still does most of the spots expected of him and had a great dropkick. There was a hot tag towards the end of the last fall and he really did a great job cleaning with uppercuts, Bordes' jumping knees, and even Drapp's shoulder shrug attack. Angelito took it even further, using all of the greatest hits of the last thirty years of Catch. He hit the up and over into an armbar out of a top wristlock, had Batman's floatover headlock escape, really just all the stuff. The crowd was feeling this too, with rare chants for a public warning after a pin got broken up (after Gordon's cool flying twisting mare finisher), one fan trying to interfere as the ref was distracted, and fans slamming the mat pissed off after the stylists got DQed for using the Piranhas' rope things against them.

SR: Really entertaining cross between Catch and Monterrey. Angelito looked pretty fantastic here working as a technico. He may have been one of the better lightweights still going in Europe at this point, at least when it comes to athleticism. Gordon wasn‘t half bad here either. The Piranhas won‘t exactly set your world on fire (I think they may have been played by the same guys as Les Maniaks) but they are good enough bases here. They had this amusing shtick where they would use a piece of their attire as a foreign object. Also, the announcer kept calling them „The little fishes“ and you have to love that. Match also had good structure with the rudos taking a pinfall early to increase pressure on the technicos,

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Monday, January 16, 2023

AEW Five Fingers of Death 1/9 - 1/15

AEW Dynamite 1/11

Bryan Danielson vs. Konosuke Takeshita

MD: Takeshita's raw physical abilities makes him sort of anything for anyone. Eddie Kingston had a very specific match that he wanted to have with him. Adam Page did as well. So did Mox and Claudio. I think his own pro-wrestling instincts are a bit much for my tastes, but I'd love to see what some of the other 5FoD like Punk or Dustin might do with him. I think it was pretty clear to anyone paying attention what Danielson wanted, someone to push him as far as possible so they could have a high octane, hard hitting match. That's exactly what he got. 

Coming in, knowing that, I was ok with the end product, give or take a few nitpicks, but overly impressed by a few points as well. For instance, I think they filled the time on the top rope during the commercial break and ending with that amazing lariat off the top exceptionally well. Timing was perfect; you didn't know where it'd end up and were happily surprised by the eventual place; it never felt cooperative; it always felt perilous. I liked the little bits of mat sections early. Takeshita's strength and flexibility meant that Danielson could really stretch, both in his own bridging and with the Romero special into the dragon sleeper. The one place where it fell apart was the ugly spot on the floor, and even then, Danielson recovered beautifully at first by selling his leg. It would have been even more beautiful if it was all a ruse and, after the knees up on the flipping senton in, he had dropped the selling completely. Instead, he dropped it conveniently, not selling it after that spot to set up the LeBell lock, selling it immediately thereafter, and then dropping it for the rest of the match, including after he landed on his feet after the German. It would have worked way better as a feint but obviously, it's a lot to keep track in the moment. Not every conversation about Danielson has to be about whether he's the best in the world or not, I suppose.

Instead, it was nice to see Danielson against a handpicked opponent, getting time and fully flexing his pro wrestling interests. On some level, I miss a more mat-based, hold-based, Danielson, one that would really dismantle an opponent, but it's still thrilling to watch him do what he wants to do most.  

AEW Rampage 1/13

Darby Allin vs. Juice Robinson

MD: This felt like the match needed for the specific moment. It was a reset after the ladder match with a big bloodbath to come. It was a nice little title match too. I've heard from a lot of people that Juice is better positioned as a babyface but I think he adds a nice bit of contrast and there's a real sense of escalation in his offense as the match goes on. They started out on the mat, giving it a bit of a title match feel, shifted with one huge bump by Darby, and then went into an extended control period by Juice which was constant and consistent. Darby is a guy who doesn't necessarily need to get in a lot of hope spots because the fans are behind him and because half of the joy of his matches is watching him take stuff. When there is a comeback and a cutoff, it means all the more for it. Juice started with the double axe handle building to the sentons (which he went for initially too early to start of the match and then paid off later) and ultimately the Harlem Sidekick. When he couldn't put Darby away, because who can, he went to the top, made a mistake, and Darby took the win. Just a good straightforward match which gave Juice a lot of room to stretch, gave Darby another win (a bunch in a very short period of time) and got the crowd recalibrated for what was to come next.

Malakai Black/Brody King vs. Eddie Kingston/Ortiz

MD: Lots of moving parts here. A lot like the Cassidy vs Sabian match from last week, they did a good job of playing out the story with the actual ringwork. AEW's roster is a dual-edged sword. You'll get Eddie wrestling relatively short enhancement tags on the webshows (even if sometimes the opponents have been great) and then you suddenly realize that you never knew you wanted him to face off against Malakai Black. This was more of a tease than a real payoff, but it was a hell of a tease, culminating with the drop into the seated position and King interjecting to lead into the commercial break and the heat. Eddie kept coming back, kept getting assists from Ortiz, kept refusing to tag. I'm not sure anyone in wrestling today could have portrayed this level of stubbornness, defiance, and toughness than Eddie. His face was visibly banged up; he kept throwing backfists wildly; he stood tall and foolish and prideful and people believed in him and suspended their disbelief and let themselves get frustrated at him and hopeful for him. That's what Eddie Kingston could do. Everyone else played their role perfectly, especially Ortiz who took it to Brody at the start and worked the apron like an all time tag worker and including Julia with picture perfect timing and a resonating scream when a lot of people were probably expecting the mist. I'm glad this is getting time and look forward to see how it all plays out.

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Sunday, January 15, 2023

Loosely Formed 1998 WWF: Boricua Brustle

ER: This is a fantastic piece of an inter-gang supremacy fight, buried in the unwatched annals of Shotgun Saturday Night, not listed on Cagematch, one of those gems that felt like another promotion working a showcase match on somebody else's stage. Jose Estrada was the least featured of the Boricuas, worked the fewest WWF singles matches of the group, and this was his finest WWF showcase. I think it's fair to say that he's one of the least likely wrestlers to spend a couple years in the WWF. Did you know he had matches on 4 different PPVs? I sure didn't. That sounds like a lot! But no sane person could actually tell you anything about Jose Estrada's ring style. Nobody out there knows how he threw a punch, what his best offense was, or even how he worked. He had eight singles matches during his run and I think this is the best example of what the man could do. 

Estrada looks like a nondescript bar bouncer and dresses exactly like one, and almost surely has to manicure a unibrow. Savio Vega (Estrada's "leader", as Michael Cole nerdishly refers to him as) opts for his traditional Koko B. Ware-waisted ToughSkins with turquoise swimsuit top. They would both kick the asses of anybody you've ever known. This is a micro-hierarchy war played out to a completely uncaring audience, that didn't let that cold reaction stop them from playing out their story. There's an art to finding the right balance to still tell your story regardless of reaction. Too much focus on not deviating from the plan leads to further crowd detachment. The key is to up the violence and end big, to grow the match while the story plays out, and they do that perfectly. Miguel Perez and Jesus Castillo are out at ringside and interrupt throughout the match, to break up exchanges that get too heated, too plead for...for some kind of sanity. Miguel looks like a Robert Smigel character from a cut 90s SNL Puerto Rican Day Parade sketch. It's great theater. 

The feeling out process is crisp, familiar but not holding back. Both get to end sequences with a showoff one-step-ahead  dropkick, they throw real elbows to break waist locks, the shoulderblocks connect, and the pinfalls and backslides look like they're really trying to hold their brother down. After a frantic exchange, Savio whips Estrada through the ropes to the floor (just one of the bumps that showcase that the largest Boricua might also be the most interesting bumper) and there's more great theater when he holds the ropes for Estrada to get back into the ring, but Estrada opts to enter on the other side. Later, it's paid off when Estrada holds the ropes for Savio and gets an incredible inside cradle when Savio proudly and trustingly accepts the gesture. These two told their cool story, and the icy disinterest didn't matter because it was a story worth telling. They didn't throw hands until the final minute of the match, and that was stopped by Perez and Castillo finally stepping in. Two friends not backing down from a fight and stubbornly going forward without knowing exactly what's being proven. Two friends building to hard punches and slaps before the rest of the group finally has to step in and let cooler heads prevail, is a cool little 5 minute story that felt kind of foreign to WWF. Puerto Rican Lucha Libre worked quietly to start an night out, delivered to a crowd patiently waiting for Mike Tyson's return and a Stone Cold/Rock main event. This match had no chance, but that didn't stop them from doing something worth paying attention to. 

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Friday, January 13, 2023


MD: I'll be honest that when we get HHs from this deep back in the 80s, it always feels notable, even if the match itself has, let's say, measured value. This was a tale of two matches. When Ishikawa was in there, it was quite good. He and Wagner started off with some nice stuff on the mat. Later on he'd have a comeback where he threw good strikes and when it came to the rudos beating him down, their stuff looked really sharp. Sato, on the other hand, was pretty rough in there. The system was what it was, but you watch a match like this and think he had to be pretty green; he wasn't. He was losing to Bob Brown and wrestling Momota around the horn in 73. He had maybe one moment of good fire towards the end and ate some shoulder throws (something like three in the match) well, but everything kind of ground to a halt when he was in there. Wagner and Anibal were fun in general though. I'm not saying they left their feet a ton but Wagner had plenty of personality and Anibal wasn't afraid to pull hair and get heat (and when they did leave their feet, mainly Anibal, it mattered). Finish had Ishikawa and Sato turning things around to create heel miscommunication and more or less worked. This is probably most worthwhile because we have very little 81 Wagner.

Principe Island I (c) vs. Sandokan Panama 1988-9

MD: Totally different sort of title match from the PI 1 vs PI 2 match. Here, Principe Island 2/Remo Banda/Super Parka was seconding Sandokan. Instead of doing everything under the sun, they went from early feeling out to Park absolutely dismantling the leg. I wouldn't say there was anything fancy here, but it certainly all worked. Park just jumping onto the leg over and over, twisting and grinding it, throwing headbutts directly into the thigh; all of that's going to work. Meanwhile, Sandokan slammed his fist on the mat and writhed, selling as big as he could. If he tried to get up, Park just took him back down and kept up the assault until he got the submission. The second fall had Park broaden his attack a bit, which cost him. Sandokan, hurt legs and all, was able to hit three upkicks and knock him out of the ring for an awkward countout.

There might have been just a bit of miscommunication there. Immediately thereafter, Sandokan started to trap the arm and the head and run Park into turnbuckles. The fans were going nuts for this and Park sold it like a gunshot. It would have made sense to do the countout after a few of those probably. The tercera was Park taking and taking and taking. Sandokan's leg was magically okay, of course, but there were a couple of times where Park tried to land a takedown and go after it again so the danger was always there. It was about the only chance he had since he was getting pinballed all over the place, including both a straight up power bomb with a jacknife roll up and Sandokan's schoolboy type takeovers which were sold like powerbombs. The very best thing he did was to whip Park into the corner and then follow up with a jumping clothesline to the back of the head as Park stumbled backwards. For as one-sided as the tercera was, Park kept kicking out and because of that Sandokan started to escalate towards the ropes, including a climb up armdrag. That allowed Park to crotch him over the top and almost steal a pin. His former partner rushed in however, stopped the count and started brawling with him ending the match but hopefully leading to an apuestas match between the two that maybe, just maybe, will show up soon? One can hope, right? Like I said, this was a completely different sort of title match than PI 1 vs PI 2 and young LA Park is really holding up his end of these, while here, Sandokan once again looked like one of the great folk heroes of wrestling. 

MD: This aired a couple of week later but I think it was at Christmas Chaos 99. One interesting thing from the Bryan Turner uploads is how little is actually on cagematch. Jannetty in late 99 was not too much different from Jannetty in 92 but with modern eyes, that's not a bad thing at all. The first half of this was all Flanagan letting himself get clowned with a "Anything you can do, I can't do better" sequence. Jannetty started it by out-hairpulling Flash but then Flash missed on multiple sequences, ending by wiping out on a monkey see, monkey do monkey flip in the corner. Given his role on the card here, he probably wanted to show off just a little too much in general, landing on his feet out of things, having the springboard leg drop and another springboard dropkick out of the corner (which in and of itself, is a good spot, whipping the opponent into the corner and rushing the other way to bounce back off the second rope), just a little bit of a case of "just because you can, doesn't mean you should." Maybe I would have liked to see just a little bit more comeuppance on the comeback then, especially since he was going to win by cheating (a good thing; he should be winning by cheating). Still, this was a good use of Marty, who looked good in everything he did, and ultimately something that gave Flash some rub. I didn't agree with every one of his creative choices but he never felt out of place in there.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Tuesday is French Catch Day: Sanniez! Richard! Corne! Hassouni! Shadow! Angelito! Cohen! Bordes! Gordon! MANIAK!

Jacky Richard/Albert Sanniez vs Jean Corne/Kader Hassouni 9/3/83

MD: As we close out the 1983 footage, we bid adieu to three of our stalwart friends: Richard, Sanniez, and Corne. There will be a few more Hassouni matches in the collection, which is a good thing as he looked excellent here. They all did, of course, Richard the heatseeking, clubbering, basing malcontent; Sanniez the slicker, hard-hitting, big bumping technician; and Corne the junior hero, smaller and quicker than Corn or Leduc but just as able to carry the crowd. This was a great crowd too with kids who wore their hearts on their sleeves, uppity teenagers who dared to get right up to the ring, and yes, a pro wrestling granny. Lots of chants and big elation for the stylist comebacks.

Given the four we had in there, of course they moved in and out of the holds well for the first ten minutes. The heat came in two parts and the first was a little overwrought as Saulnier had to strain all over the ring to get out of position. He was missing Sanniez's pretty blatant hairpulls (armbar, with the head between the legs, and his hand reaching around the back for the pull). It meant that the first comeback was more about him paying for his transgressions with Sanniez catapulted right into him. The second bit of heat was primarily clubbering and this had a bigger and more direct sort of comeback with Corne sneaking into the ring and through the legs to break up a double team and lead to miscommunication and the finish. As always, it was amazing that Hassouni and Sanniez were able to do some of the things that they were in quick exchanges 20+ minutes in, but that's French Catch for you.

SR: 2/3 Falls match going about 30 minutes. You will know exactly how these go by now. Long, quality face shine chock full of super quick sequences to start, before the heels take over for a beatdown. Faces come back, heels bump like mad and a quick finish happens. After this, the matches we have get pretty wacky, so I guess this is a sort of last hurrah for the classic type of Catch. It was as good as any of these matches you‘ve seen too. Everyone looked pretty old but they had no probably going hard as usual. Richard especially was the most grey and crusty looking dude here but had no problem bumping big and fast and running the ropes. Hassouni was spry and Sanniez had one of his typically good performances. There were also a bunch of rowdy kids and an elderly lady at ringside threatening to storm the ring at the heel tactics of Richard & Sanniez. Maybe for this reason referee Michel Saulnier decided not to do anything fishy here.

Black Shadow vs Angelito (JIP) 2/25/84

MD: Just the last two and a half minutes here of a match that went almost twenty. Angelito and Shadow might have lost half a step but them half a step down was still pretty good for the bits we saw here. I imagine they had started off with a bit more flash and speed. This was pretty evenly worked with holds and rope running and flips about until Angelito bounded up cleverly into a victory roll for the win. From a technological standpoint, they were experimenting with slow-motion replays.

SR: About 2 minutes shown of what looked like a preliminary affair. Angelito has some really nice moves, though.

Marquis Edouard de la Rossignolette vs Georges Cohen 2/25/84

MD: I may have spoken too soon, for the good Marquis, in his fineries, with his medals and his monocle, and his butler "Paul Bart", does have a striking resemblance to Jacky Richard, if you just take out the beard. I do give him some credit for changing his look, his expressions, the way that he moved.

That said, this is going to disappoint people who are into the quicker stuff in the footage, the more technical stuff, AND the slugfests. I'm not going to lie about that. I enjoyed it to a degree, but it was a pale shadow of some of the other examples of the sort we have. It didn't have the manic energy of Duranton and his valet and no one compares well to the size, derision, and high spots of Lasartesse. Moreover, there were just less of the chained together moves or dogged hanging on to holds that you'd get from the tags (even the ones with Richard and Cohen). I do think this would compare quite well to a lot of what was happening in the mid-cards of pro wrestling shows in the States for 1984.

Richard played his character well, got heat, was able to grind down on Cohen. When it was time for him to show ass, he did. He bumped around the ring (but just one bump at a time instead of three), got dropkicked into a hanging in the ropes (replayed nicely with the slowmo), set up some spots for the butler (including Cohen chasing him around the ring, AND a repeat of what we saw in the last 83 tag where Saulnier as ref took a similar kicked away from the ropes and into the center of the ring bump), and even had a truly funny moment: after pulling the corner protector off, Cohen reversed him into it a couple of times and he gingerly tried to put it back on with deep regret. It was funny. So, I think, objectively, this was fine; it was the sort of stuff that Eric and I would write a bunch of words about and be glad that we saw. It just doesn't compare to what was came before, even what came a year before as we had just seen. The biggest sin wasn't a slightly slower pace or less technical back and forth or a lack of rope running; it was that Cohen didn't get more of a heated comeback before the Marquis got himself dqed with a corner crotching. They were getting over the character but I think that would have gone a long way to helping the match overall.

SR: I wonder if the Marquis ever faced the little Prince. This was the first sign of the old catch maestros slowing down. Both guys could still move but they only did the most barebones stuff and there were pauses between each movement. Not good.

Walter Bordes/Flesh Gordon vs Les MANIAK 2/25/84

MD: Flesh was really leaning into the gear here, with the lightning bolt tank top and belt. The Manics had sort of an Espectro, Jr look to them, with big hair and masks, but in grey with red splotches. My gut tells me that one was better than the other but I couldn't say that for sure. This was one fall but still went quite a while. Bordes and Gordon looked good. Les Maniak had one or two big moves (a front facelock drop that was nasty, a huge press up powerbomb type drop that may or may not have been intentional). They worked over Gordon's leg for their control but I'm not sure he had any real intention to sell it. A lot of what Gordon and Bordes threw out was still their tricked out stuff, but maybe things less reliant on their opponents, especially after the early going where there was some miscommunication on fairly simple things and Bordes seemed a little hot at one of the Maniacs. For instance, there was only one extended hold sequence of in and out, but it was a nice one where he kipped up repeatedly in an armbar until he got the headscissors to a big pop. There were a few quite gifworthy sequences in here, stuff that would be more like ten seconds instead of the usual thirty, and the never lost the crowd (Bordes is undeniable and Gordon really understood how to milk a moment for the back row, like when he just hung on a Maniac's shoulders and looked left and right before falling backwards with a Rana), but overall, this definitely felt a little disjointed relative to other matches of its ilk in the collection.  

SR: LES MANIAK. France was going full Catch y Lucha at this point. Apparently, Flesh Gordon was working Mexico in the 70s, so I guess that explains the crossover. This was even more Luchaesque than anything we‘ve seen before. Unfortunately, Les Maniaks, who acted quite sane and calculating, weren‘t very good here. There were several blown spots and their beatdown section dragged on forever. I enjoyed Bordes old man performance as usual. I can‘t tell if Gordon was getting lazier or if he was toning it down due to his opponent not being familiar with him. Anyways, this was charming and entertaining, but needed better rudo bases to work.

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Monday, January 09, 2023

AEW Five Fingers of Death 1/2 - 1/8

AEW Dynamite 1/4

Bryan Danielson vs Tony Nese

MD: A lot of grumbling and backlash for this one when it was announced, and my big takeaway was that I wish it had gotten just another minute or two so that Danielson and Nese could really go. Nese is probably the most giving, selfless guy on the roster, someone who knows his job, knows his role, knows his skillset, that can go but that still wants to get under the skin of the fans instead of having them cheer for his exchanges. He's the guy on the roster most likely to get cake in his face or to be completely embarrassed by Orange Cassidy but he has just enough credibility through his stuff looking good, through having Woods at his side, and through the sheer cardio and shape he's in. Basically, he's everything I'd want a Seth Rollins type guy to be. That means he's a lower-midcarder who makes everyone around him look better, but I'm almost always glad to see him. It's just that we live in an upside down world where Seth Rollins is Seth Rollins and not Tony Nese. It's not Tony Nese's fault. It's the world that's backwards.

They were exceptionally careful about this. Nese used everything at his disposal from an early ambush while Danielson was basking in the crowd's reaction to having Sterling and Nese out there to get tiny bits of advantage. He could never press it because the idea here was to show Danielson as an absolute star. And he was, but what I'm going to remember most is Nese's missed knee in the corner, just how well he set it up, just how well he pinballed off, the action and the reaction. Ultimately, this match was the right match for the moment, something celebratory, something tangentially connected to MJF, something quick and clean, and high impact, that showcased Danielson in front of his home crowd to set up the gauntlet ahead of him and the lure of the PPV match stip. Still, I had assumed he had picked Nese because he wanted to have one or two cardio exchanges where he really pushed himself, and I'm a little sad we didn't quite get them here. It would be a hell of a Dark match at Universal with no stakes or story purpose if they ever wanted to do it again though.

Samoa Joe (c) vs Darby Allin

MD: I don't think I liked this quite as much as the first match between them but that doesn't mean there wasn't a ton to love. Darby's matches almost always start in some interesting way. Here it was Joe going after Nick Wayne just because he could (he's the King of TV after all) and Darby making him pay for it, then capitalizing on that advantage before the bell rang with some well-deserved revenge with the skateboard and a huge dive off a ladder. Joe's up there with Yokozuna and Abby as someone who can believably cut anyone off at any moment though. Here he caught Darby (who had maybe messed up his leg on the dive) off the apron and just crushed him on the stairs. This started a pretty awesome Joe control bit through the commercial break where he pinballed off the post again and jawed with the crowd. Between the size differential and the leg, Joe was able to just squash Darby, blocking his attempts to recover. You have to appreciate Joe's expressiveness here, just how deeply he was into every moment. He was absolutely living the character, smug, bemused, believing in himself entirely and looking down on everything and everyone around him. Great finishing stretch here, with Sting's pep talk driving Darby to Sting up, Joe putting forth amazingly portrayed struggle in not trying to get pulled out of the corner (causing the turnbuckle cover to go flying) and the two of them somehow making the code red believable before the finish. I almost would have had Darby hit the drop from all four corners just to put a sort of Warrior vs Macho Man exclamation point on things, but you can't argue with the hometown pop at the end.

AEW Rampage 1/6

Bryan Danielson/Jon Moxley vs Top Flight

MD: It's since come out in interviews that the entire idea behind the BCC was to give young guys top guys to work. Regal has his own way to explain it but the others explained it more like Tsuruta-gun vs the Super Generation Army. We did see a little bit of that at first, with Yuta and with a tag or six-man here or there but eventually, it all got subsumed into the JAS feud and it went away. This is it back and as clear as day.

That meant, as opposed to the Claudio tag from a week or two ago, that the BCC pressed and pressed and pressed and pressed. They pushed the Martins to their absolute limit and every glimpse of hope, every bit of offense, felt entirely earned and like a small victory in and of itself. This felt a lot more like one of those AJPW tags, where Top Flight might be able to force a tag, get a shot or two in, but then would get shut down immediately. A tag didn't, in and of itself, represent a shift in momentum. Quite the opposite as the damage had been done to the guy tagging out and it was still two-on-one until he recovered. In fact, some of the most hope Top Flight had was when Darius tagged while he was still more or less on the floor outside. They capitalized on his positioning as best as they could but it never lasted long. The BCC were just too much. That was the point as it made every iota of Top Flight's fight all the more valiant for the impossible odds. It's been a while since Mox and Danielson were able to have a straight up tag and they had some tandem stuff that was on the backburner for quite a while and that made the task even more impossible for Top Flight.

The Dante vs Danielson bits were shiny and flashy and made me want to see a singles match. Darius balanced exhaustion and fire well when he did get something of a comeback, but he still has to find his own niche; it's never going to benefit him to be compared to Dante if they're doing very similar things. This was brutal in the best way and it kind of makes me hope for them to run it back again with Mox and Yuta where they can get some some revenge on Moxley.

Darby Allin vs Mike Bennett

MD: Credit to Bennett here for being a good hand. He took most of the match but the only things I remembered after a first watch was Darby's finishing shots: the dropkick onto the chair on the outside that you know Bennett insisted on taking, as opposed the usual Darby wipe out bump; the bit where Maria laid on top of him and Darby was going to jump anyway; the code red off the top. Maybe that super slick kick out of the leg right into the grounded hammerlock too. And Bennett held up his end on keeping heat, even if the fans were going to chant Boston Sucks and You Still Suck instead of Bennett Sucks, alongside Let's Go Darby and just Darby's name. To his credit, they weren't chanting about Maria. I thought his cut offs were particularly good though I have to admit that his offense in general, while it all looked solid and gave Darby things to work with, was definitely all over the place. He did just enough focusing on a leg or an arm to establish that there was something there but not enough for it actually to be a meaningful story beat. It distracted instead of resonated. This is one where maybe Darby should have either taken just a bit more of it and flex his muscles as a champion once again or at least had Maria and Taven give him a bit more trouble to help protect him. I will say that Bennett came out of this looking better than he came in, even despite the most memorable moments being him getting his comeuppance.

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Sunday, January 08, 2023

2022 Ongoing MOTY List: Cuernavaca Dandys

25. Los Dandys (Chamaco Galindo/Icaro/Dante Valaguez) vs. Arana Negra Jr./Mandibula Jr./Maulee Jr. Arena Juan Jaramillo Frikas 2/20

ER: I love checking out a lucha match on recommendation that has six guys I don't know. This was my exposure to the Dandys and all three tecnico fliers, one of those matches where you can just safely assume every town in Mexico has a trio of fliers and trio of great bases who are just doing this thing every week or two. Chamaco Galindo was the standout for me but the other Dandys had their own strengths. They're all great bases and each caught multiple ranas and headscissors and dives. All of them hung in there on some high landing ranas and tough to catch dives, but Chamaco had cool matwork and slicker positioning. He had a couple cool things around picking a leg and rolling into something unexpected, knows how to take the best bumps through and under the ropes to the floor. He also had a couple of big slams on what looked to be a disgustingly hard ring, and his slams had this way of whipping poor small skinny Maulee as hard as possible with no give. 

Mandibula was the coolest of the tecnicos. His mask has a big hinged jaw on it like the Iron Giant or Baron Von Underbite. He has a cool flipping tope suicida that bounces him off Chamaco's back, and he's the hit of the segunda as he runs misdirection around all three Dandys and sends them all sliding on their backs and stomachs to the floor with ranas and headscissors. Well, maybe the hit of the segunda is the older stocky ref doing a surprise forward roll bridging just to count a double pin. What a funny thing to see when up to that point he hadn't done a single thing other than stay out of the way and count pins like a normal man. Maulee was a fun skinny guy flier who made up for some hitches in his flow by taking some nice risks. He disappears from view on a great split-legged top con giro and leans into getting his chest kicked in during the tercera brawl, peaked by him getting rocket launched painfully into the apron and later alley-ooped over the top to the floor into a rana on Chamaco. It did feel like they peaked things a bit early, as the segunda got white hot and the tercera started with Los Dandys kicking the fliers around ringside, and then it felt like things settled down too much into a primera feel. I liked when they were peaking with cool catches and dives and slams, not forearm exchanges. Still, not much beats the uncommitted joy of a trios match with six strangers, especially ones like this that give you a few new guys to seek out. 


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Friday, January 06, 2023


MD: We get around 7 minutes of this and it's with some sound effects and jokey commentary but it's also the earliest Lord Blears we have, a pretty good look at Kovacs and Finkelstein knocking Marconi around the ring, and a shoulder tackle heavy comeback by (Gorilla) Marconi. Kovacs hit pretty hard and Marconi took a nice bump to the floor (preceded by one heel warning the other with a tap on the back). Probably the biggest thing to see here, however, was Blears dropkicking everyone and throwing spin kicks (the Negro Casas variation). He went a bit overboard with it, and the finish was his hair getting pulled mid-air by one of the heels as he was dropkicking the other causing him to take a pretty nasty bump. Someone should steal that. They bumbled around a bit before the pin but it was pretty believable as a match-ender relative to everything else that was happening. I picture him as the old guy announcing things in Japan or chummily commentating in Hawaii so it was striking to see him quite this young.

ER: Is this just the beginning of Matt deep diving into Delaware Catch? Delaware is possibly the state in the union I think the least about (Rhode Island? Mississippi? Montana?), and I couldn't even tell you if there is or was any kind of wrestling scene there. Hogan never worked there. Flair never worked there. WWF skipped out on Delware during the Hogan years and came back when business was dry, so the people of Delaware at least got to see most of the one month Buddy Landel 1995 WWF run, or an Ahmed Johnson/1-2-3 Kid dark match that I would want to see. I wonder how much crossover attendance this match from 1947 had with Scott Putski vs. Leif Cassidy 50 years later. Some poor man in his 70s telling someone, "I was here when James Blears threw some pretty great dropkicks." Marconi had a couple of cool Delaware Catch bumps, including one charging through the ropes to the floor, and an even cooler one where he does a kind of trust fall from the apron into the front row. The closing segment between Blears and Kovacs had some real stiff uppercuts (as well as some atrocious Foley work SFX, just pots and pans clanking whenever anyone made contact) and I loved how all of Blears' dropkicks played into the finish. He just kept throwing them, low, horizontal, feet pumped directly out in front of him, and just as I thought "man he's thrown like 9 of these straight, they're gonna catch on here", Finkelstein blocked one by grabbing his hair mid-flight and yanking him to the mat. Kick ass. 

Principe Island I (LA Park) vs. Principe Island II (Super Parka) 1988 Panama   Pt. 2

MD: Park (PI 1) was the champion here. This is after the mask match with Sandokan. His uncle, billed as his brother (we'll call him PI 2), had just lost his mask and had shaken hands with his opponent after the fact, angering PI 1. He's become a tecnico accordingly and his challenging his former partner here, now representing Panama. They start this out with some really basic and rudimentary holds: headlocks, wristlocks,etc., and I just get it through my head that PI 1/Park is still early in his career and obviously he'd trained with PI 2, so things would stay simple but well-worked and full of basic struggle. Not a bad thing at all.

That's not at all what happens though. Things escalate and escalate and escalate until midway through the primera, PI 1 hoists his uncle up on his shoulder and hits sort of a fall away FU out of a fireman's carry. Park had all of his physical charisma and as much agility as he'd ever have in his career and they were moving on to handsprings and bounding springboard armdrags off the ropes. Park was more than happy to tumble head over heels into the ropes or through the ropes. All of this builds to an amazing finish with PI 2 hitting quebradoras to rousing applause from the crowd, and finally launching himself through the ropes with a tope which Park ducks, leading to a mindblowing sunset flip onto the floor and the countout. Really just an amazing primera.

The segunda started with a bunch of cutesy mirrored stuff where the idea was that they knew each other so well, and quickly moved along to Park using all of the tricked out submissions that they had kept in their holsters in the primera. This built as well, crescendoing to Park diving through the ropes with a huge midair flip and the countout fall.

Then for the tercera they went right into one pin attempt after another. I'm not going to say it was all smooth, but there was plenty of technique and imagination. Very back and forth and with the idea that it could probably end at any moment. Park hit a flying hammer. PI 2 dropped him with a sit out powerbomb. It all built to two huge (if conventional relative to what came before) dives, a nearfall I bought with Park's spinning back kick (as he had used it to win a fall against Sandokan previously) and a very slick switch into a Gory Special for the win. It felt like two guys who knew each other very well, with big ideas, a black canvas, and no reason not to put it all out there. I'm not sure there's any 80s lucha title match on tape quite like it.

ER: We have been posting newly unearthed unseen wrestling footage every Friday for 5 years now, and it still amazes me how much high quality is appearing on such a consistent basis. We are truly living in golden times. As much stuff as we've written about, it's all still exciting, and this footage of LA Parka working Panama is the earliest Park we've written about. It's an incredible find, illuminating a peak even longer than Park diehards have realized. This is a long, exhausting title match that was grueling in the way that family feuds can be, evidence of the kind of inspired brilliance Park has brought across 5 decades. This had big longform drama, 30 or more pinfall attempts, tons of bumps into a firm ring and even bigger bumps to the floor, huge dives, inventive roll-ups, just a real ahead of its time find. A lot of the exchanges felt so modern, some impressive body control from a guy who looked like a lanky punk and another guy with incredible John Oates Private Eyes hair. 

LA Park has to be considered one of the greatest bumpers in wrestling history. His bumping here in his mid-20s is as big as our biggest bumping luchadors. His Jerry bump is as high as Jerry's, he hits the turnbuckles so hard on a whip that the crowd clearly thought he broke the ring, and he had a bump backwards through the ropes on a kickout that's a great example of him using a bump to surprise the viewer. He was bumping this well in 1989, and in 2023 he's still known for painful falls, on an increasingly larger frame. His uncle takes his own big bumps, including hard fast one to the floor that gets him met with a super fast tope suicida, like a bowling pin being whipped into his head. He powerbombs LA Park onto the back of the head later, but nobody was getting out of this war easy. They built to several plausible finishes and knew how to end each fall in a big way. The tope suicida sunset flip that left Park on the floor made the entire arena lunge out of their seats and swarm the ring. LA Park's straight suicide and Super Parka's incredible long distance plancha did the same. Maybe some of the pinfalls went on too long, maybe some falls could have been trimmed, but this felt like a big 80s territory title match the whole time. Outstanding. 

MD: Everything you'd want from 16 minutes of these two in a random indy, starting with Smothers jawing on the mic, leading the fans in one chant after the other by threatening violence on all of them and begging them not to chant ECW since he just got fired from there, and ending with him shoving the bald ref around and eating a stunner from him like he got shot by a cannon. In the middle, there was plenty to see: Smothers challenging Sabu to chain wrestle him and that lasting for about a minute before elbows and punches entered the fray; most of the transitions in the match being Smothers grabbing at a leg or Sabu sneaking an awkward kick in from the ground, or Smothers just tossing himself at Sabu, nothing pretty, nothing clean; Sabu jumping all around the place; Smothers jawing at everyone proclaiming Sabu not to be too tough; the table introduced relative early and then the guy with the camera having to change film/batteries/etc, and missing the eventual spot. You don't even care about the last one because there was just as much chance the wrestlers would have missed it anyway. This was great fun and a good use of a quarter-hour.

ER: This is a perfect match, because you can show it to your buddy who has never heard of Tracy Smothers or Sabu and he gets to see almost the entire routine in full in the perfect setting: an expo center at a fairgrounds in a mid-size Tennessee town. Tracy threatens everyone in the building with mass scale homicide and hilariously says "I don't want to hear anyone chant ECW. I just got fired from that place." I don't think I realized Smothers was fired from ECW in 1999, but he would know better than I, and sure enough he didn't work any dates starting in April until returning several months later. What's fun, is that this Tracy/Sabu match might be the first one we have, as he and Sabu wrestled on several ECW house shows, but not until Tracy returned later in 1999. Tracy was in great shape and basically worked a Will Ferrell bit the entire time while also being violent. He worked this like a dad that wasn't just yelling about his Dodge Stratus, he was also throwing stiff elbows to the back of the neck and punching Sabu in the kidneys and standing on his throat. 

I thought the work was really tight. Sabu kept punching Smothers full force in the forehead and Smothers leaned into all of them, so they always looked good brawling each other into position. The first ECW VHS I traded for in the 90s was a house show where Sabu moonsaulted face first onto an upturned table leg. Here his jaw is still taped up and Smothers throws several punches into it. They found smart ways to set up prop spots. When Sabu first grabbed a table and started dragging it to the ring, Tracy played dead until one of the legs started to collapse, and the second Sabu went to fix the leg Tracy pounced on him. Tracy could be downright great at occupying himself while waiting for someone to set up a table or a dive. I love how he got himself back onto the table, by missing a clothesline into the ringpost and taking one punch right to the face to fall right on it. Our cameraman gets really poetic, turning away from the action before settling on a wheelchair, picking up the action again when Sabu and Smothers were already lying in the remnants of a shattered table. We got the Scorsese of Cookeville filming this wrestling over here. 

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Thursday, January 05, 2023

Matches from Jimmy Lloyd's American Wasteland 2/17/22

2 Cold Scorpio vs. Slim J 

ER: This is a real dream match. The most impactful highflyer of all time and maybe the most underrated American wrestler of the last 20 years, finally locking it up. Slim J has been wrestling so long and still somehow isn't even knocking on 40's door, meanwhile Scorpio is still out here Jungle Boogying in his mid-50s. Scorpio is slower now and makes up for it by hitting as hard as ever, so this was about Slim trying to outquick him but still getting tagged and flattened. I love Scorpio as a big bully, and there was a lot of that here. He ran over Slim so hard with a clothesline, flipping him into next week and then flipping his own double legdrop right across Slim's torso. Scorp doesn't fly as much now, so instead he just lights up Slim with punches and vicious clinch knees to the body. Slim took all of Scorp's offense really well, and even paid attention to selling his own offense, like how he sold his own neck and top of his head after dazing 2 Cold with a jawbreaker. Slim's flying didn't hit with the crispness it normally does and I couldn't tell if it was Scorpio leaning out of the corkscrew moonsault and crossbody or if Slim was holding back, but Scorpio's selling throughout left a lot to be desired. There were several times where he just kind of stood in place waiting to take something. There were still other little things Scorp did that showed his cool instincts, like when he dropped a heavy leg and hooked Slim's legs when they reflexively popped up, and I cannot freaking believe that the man is still doing the Tumbleweed. That's pure insanity, and Slim is probably just as insane for taking it. 

Matthew Justice vs. PCO

ER: I wrote about Scorpio's match, so it only makes sense to write about another guy in his mid-50s who I watched on TV when I was 12. I never had Honor Club so I didn't see PCO during that era, but it's clear nothing has changed. He is a stiff moving goon who will take real damage, and Matthew Justice is a guy who always damages his body for the people. Justice is going to take a backdrop on the floor, get speared off the ring apron through a door, obviously he's going to do a big splash off the weird Aerial Assault Cube affixed to one ringpost that was only used one time in the Aerial Assault Scramble earlier in the night, and he's also the guy who will rush to hug a seated woman who he accidentally bounced a door off of. The longer it goes, the more it becomes about Justice taking damage and refusing to stay down, taking two gross PCO somersault sentons while laid out on a table that refused to break even just a little bit. Justice had a large man bounce off his body twice, and PCO was crazy enough to do that off the top, not get the result he wanted, and immediately decide to do it again (to the same result). I always get hyped when Justice does his one count kickout, and after PCO hit his unhinged moonsault the kickout was a good one. I also like Justice because that kickout usually doesn't mean he's just going to get up and shrug off everything that's happened to him. He uses that kickout last a desperation strap removal, psyching himself up as much as he's psyching up his fans. He still gets brained with a chair, but he went down like Matthew Justice. 

Jimmy Jacobs vs. Effy

ER: I think this is a pretty great pairing and I liked the match a lot. It felt like the big stuff really ramped up down the stretch, although I liked this a lot more when all of the chairs weren't involved. Jacobs went to the spike almost immediately in a weird violent Bugs Bunny spot, letting Effy go down on him under his skirt so he can tap him on the shoulder and spike him in the head. The spike stuff was all great, loved the visuals when Jacobs ran across the ring and stuck it in the turnbuckle when Effy moved, but then moved out of the way when Effy came flying in and almost tore his sac open on that spike. I don't want to see Effy get his sac torn up, personally, but flying towards a spike ass first and legs spread eagle is a good way to tempt that fate. Luckily, he only got hung up by a leg and it's a gift to us, as being hung upside down made the blood flow more. Jacobs's offense looks as tight as ever, like his perfect kneedrop to the back of Effy's head, smacking it down into a chair, and the camel clutch hooking Effy's chin with the back of a chair was gross. All of the big spots on a stack of chairs looked incredibly painful, but I think it hurt the flow of the match a lot. It meant a lot more time in between the violence, and I thought this was really singing when it was Jacobs working a cut while Effy started working over his back. I would have liked to see that play out more, but I do appreciate the punishment. 

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Tuesday, January 03, 2023

Tuesday is French Catch Day: Bordes! Gordon! Falcons! Mercier! Montreal!

Walter Bordes/Flesh Gordon vs. Golden Falcons 8/13/83

SR: 2/3 Falls match going about 25 minutes. I am totally fine with young Flesh Gordon and an ancient Walter Bordes carrying French TV at this point. Gordon is really spry doing these luchariffic exchanges and I am loving Bordes in these matches, just bouncing around and mixing in all this cool shit while being old enough to be everyone's grandpa. This also had a nifty heel beatdown where Flesh Gordon was laid out like an All Japan tag and Bordes took a big beating. In a nifty moment, the Falcons even stole the "wrestler gets catapulted into his own partner“ spot which is usually reserved for babyfaces. Gordon comes back in the 3rd fall wearing a bandage and just uppercuts everyone a lot, and all is right in the world.

MD: Yeah, this was just chugging along like any other match, with some great bridges by Gordon and Bordes blocking some throws in cool ways and having really nice hanging-on arm holds. Some of the spots seemed a bit recycled from the last time we saw these two teaming but it was all good stuff that they were continuing to build upon so that was ok. The Falcons took all of it and had a certain bit of cheek that you appreciated in heels (also a diving headbutt which is also appreciated in hold footage). Then, after Gordon won the first fall with his spin around mare thing that people need to steal, everything got wild in the second fall.

One Falcon catapulted Bordes into Gordon (held by the hair by his partner) and Flesh (said with a possibly straight face to be a distant cousin of Flash, by the announcer) did a human stretcher job from the bump off the apron. After that they leaned hard into the heat. Bordes would fight back but the numbers game was too much. He'd get knocked off the apron or tossed into the crowd. The Falcons had some strong stuff here, including this punch that knocked Bordes off the ropes and right back into a back elbow. After they took the second fall they hit a double team, one Falcon holding Bordes in a full nelson and the other coming off the second rope with a headbutt to the gut. They went for it again, but Bordes moved and Gordon flew back in, his bloodied head bandaged, and it was a big iconic moment as they fired back and took the win and won a tiny little trophy as the crowd went wild. 1983 French Catch? Still rousing stuff.

Guy Mercier vs. Mr. Montreal 8/27/83

MD: Three or four big, long, incredibly well worked holds in, halfway through the match, Montreal was hanging on to a headlock so tightly that I thought Mercier's head was going to pop off. Then Mercier started to slam him, uppercut him, drop elbows (rare for the footage) and knees and slam him some more. Montreal dodged one and came back with huge whips and huge shots and slams. They end up slugging one another, until they crash into one other and both hit the mat hard. And there's still ten minutes to go!

There are a spattering of matches like this in the footage, especially once we got into the 60s, but they were always something absolutely exceptional. The holds are so tight, so mean, so thoroughly worked. There's not an armbar here which also doesn't have a shin grinding onto the cheek. There's always motion, always an attempt to escape, but it takes three or four motions to even get to the escape attempt and then that gets cut off, and then it's that many until the next, and that gets cut off, and so on and so forth, so expertly worked, until the opening finally is earned, as is everything else in a match like this (And when what is earned is Mercier's headstand spinout? It's as good as it gets). And the shots? The shots hit so hard and resonate so deeply. They're not the end, but instead a response to the last affront and a prelude to the next hold. During the stretch as time was going out, three, four hard forearms or uppercuts would lead to a headlock takeover or a body slam or even Mercier's fallaway slam, but all to no avail. You could say that this was Montreal's strength against Mercier's leverage and skill, but it was really just two aging masters putting everything out there and it stands up to just about anything we've seen during this entire journey.

SR: 1 Fall match going a bit under 30 minutes. This was a clean technical match, a rare occurrence by 1983. The fact they still had matches like this at that time made me wish there was more 80s French TV around. This was super minimalist, two guys struggling over basic holds for 30 minutes without a fall. It was something you‘d expect out of the 60s. The holds were simple, but they were really cranking them. The whole match felt clinical and the fact Montreal was squeezing Mercier so hard with those headlocks his veins seemed about to pop emphasized that. I imagine this kind of contest was more Mercier's specialty than the heatmongering face/heel style. His suplexes ruled. Both guys seemed to get increasingly agitated towards the end, really cracking each others jaws with the uppercuts. I‘ve seen a lot of 80s Euro draws like this, but seeing this go 25+ without rounds or falls was impressive. I could see most people finding this boring, but I enjoyed the show.

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