Segunda Caida

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

Friday, January 22, 2010

Fab Five Friday: 1/15/10 - 1/21/10

Each Friday, sometime SC correspondent and constant indexer Nick Curley ranks and files his five favorite wrestling moments of the previous seven days in a segment we call Fab Five Friday. In the tradition of its namesake, hip-hop pioneer and Renaissance man Fab Five Freddy, the column (while not exclusive to grappling's current events) is aimed at the wrestling zeitgeist of the moment. Topical donnybrooks, pillar-to-post from soup to nuts: anything and everything that fell within Curley's pro wres week that was. It is Friday: he is in love. Nay: he is love.

5) TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING: Tuesday on ECW, Segunda Caida stalwarts Christian and William Regal had their second fourteen TV match in five days. The first came Thursday on WGN’s Superstars: a solid if middle-of-the-pack outing in their now lengthy series of bouts. Such is present day WWE: a remarkably deep roster (if not as good as it was a year or two or five ago) filling so much television time that should two workers show any in-ring chemistry, they will square off in televised singles matches twelve to fifteen more times. In a preceding Royal Rumble promo, Josh Matthews reminds us that Christian is the longest running champion in WWE. Therein lies the rub for ECW: no heel with the exception of Regal has been worthy of usurping Christian’s crown, and even he failed in all four taped title shots he received last year. The crowd came alive for this non-title version from its outset, an unreleased collar-and-elbow tie-up test of strength more closely resembling a town square’s bell smattering clock tower walls. For people who complain about who does what in this company, consider that you’ve seen more Regal on TV this week than Hunter, Shawn, and Vince combined. This succeeded in part because Regal does a better kip up than Michaels. Why? Because Regal follows his with a stiff headbutt to the eye socket. Further nastiness came via outstanding punches: Christian’s hope spot of dazed and dizzying jabs that boxed Regal’s ears, and Regal cutting him off with a running roundhouse of sorts. Regal’s kick of Christian’s wedged head into the post was as good as it’s ever looked thanks to Christian selling it marvelously. For as good as Regal was, it was Christian who made this great, redeeming himself after the world’s most awkward announce booth commentary the previous week. His reactions to Regal’s onslaught, both here and in the Superstars match, were on par with any Gene Hackman Can’t Believe Life’s Folly or Beat Kitano Has a Bad Day facial reactions found on film. Even the lame, predictable finish works thanks to Regal’s exasperation and the joy Ezekiel Jackson takes in laying out fools. The best match I’ve seen in my IWRG-free 2010 to date, and one perhaps setting up a Jackson title win at the Rumble that would neither surprise nor displease.

4) GOLDUST AT 43 GOES GOLD DIGGERS OF ’39: While Christian-Regal was the far better match, ECW’s “Dave Scherer High Mark of the Week” came in the form of Dustin Rhodes’ house-on-fire adrenaline run in an earlier tag bout. Rhodes and Yoshi Tatsu challenged Trent Baretta and Caylen Croft, two pony-tailed Dynamic Dude proxies whose gimmick is that they dig video games, trophies, and other stupid shit that nerds like. Dustin as Goldust became ECW’s Bobby Eaton-style workhorse in ’09, getting over current Raw champ Sheamus with a series of fantastic Power Hour-style brawls. The degree to which a seemingly aged, out-of-place Rhodes is over with WWE crowds is surprising until one recognizes his utility and knack for nuances that engage fans in matches: selling visible from the arena’s last row, bombastic hot tags, and subtle revisions to a persona that ten years ago had him shimmying to the ring sporting green pleather, a Zimmer frame, and a ball gag. Watching the Dustin of today is not unlike watching Danny Kaye backflip off walls in Singin’ in the Rain, or Gene Kelly in An American in Paris. These were dudes who were as tough and rugged as they were graceful, whose fluidity of motion and agility were by-products of raw power and gusto. Dustin’s frustrated, noodle-legged sell of the cheap shot lariat that beat him was particularly great, as was Tatsu’s exasperation and their post-match miming to get the story across to even the most short-bussed of spectators.

3) REY KNOWS WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS: The former El Colibri this week showed why he is not simply one of the most charismatic and agile wrestlers of the modern era, but also one of the smartest. In a steel cage match with Batista, Rey Mysterio ably portrayed qualities we’re led to think it unwise for faces to show: fear, intimidation, and the desire to run from a fight. Rey’s strategy was at once the right dramatic choice and the most logical one: use his speed and size to escape the cage as quickly as possible. He went so far as to run up his opponent’s enormous back, treating it as a launching pad. We have seen in various other modes of storytelling the “thrill of the chase” concept. It takes a great performer to pull that story off such live, fifteen feet in the air. Whereas a lesser babyface would have garnered no such sympathy, Rey is the kind of David who can make a fool of Goliaths and still build them up as fearsome monsters. A worthy candidate for Best Wrestler of 2009, Rey has already begun making his case for 2010.

2) GET THIS MAN SOME JERSEY DINER ONION RINGS: This one goes against all I stand for. Show tunes? Fat kids? Internet puro geek memes? The post-Sopranos and championship Red Sox preponderance of Journey in our lives? 20th Century FOX on the whole? By all rights this should be a perfect storm of shithouse, yet I cannot look away. Decide for yourself which is the better incantation: I think it’s a toss-up between the David Fincher camera operation of the first and the delight I took from an obese man sporting such sunny business casual wear in the second:

1) STANISLAVSKI AND ADLER INVADE THE IMPACT ZONE: Of all the insane, wonderful, and insane again things about the Hogan-Bischoff era of TNA to date, the best is likely the curious earnestness that the show has developed. Nowhere is that felt stronger than in the David Lynch levels of peaceful surrealism found in many of the show’s promos. The iMPACTs of recent years have been plagued by a bizarre mix of brutally unfunny comedy, overrated high spot wrestling, and cynical unprofessionalism. This rebranding has at the very least produced train wrecks that are “must-watch” rather than “must-take-another-shower”, and mic work that’s often very funny, be it intentionally (D’Angelo Dinero) or otherwise (Kevin Nash’s naturalist approach, delivering lines as if making small talk with a slow-witted bellhop). This week was no exception, as the show opened with a Ric Flair promo that was embarrassing in the same way most modern day Flair promos are. Here he announced that he had been signed to TNA because, “on a cold, cold spring night” in Orlando, he had circumstantially met and had intercourse with Dixie Carter in a hotel bar. And goddamn do these nineteen year old waifs accompanying Flair and his new protégé “AJ Styles and Profiles” to the ring look uncomfortable. This was like, Eastern European human trafficking levels of discomfort. “They told me I was to enter pageant, I wake up in burlap sack and Mr. Ric is yelling about making virgins bleed and Stinger splash.”

In today’s TNA, all the major players are in roles they seemingly aren’t supposed to be playing at this point in their careers. Ric Flair probably isn’t gonna get booed as the maniacal rudo maestro he wants to be. AJ Styles, while underrated on promos, looks like a kid wearing his dad’s suit to a dinner party. The zombified forty year old cyborg that stole Kurt Angle’s skin is not your ideal Walking Tall babyface. Hulk Hogan is of late too tongue-tied to be your ideal Bill Watts “owner who’ll whoop you himself if he has to”. The exception is Jeff Jarrett, diving headfirst into the role of Nashville’s Sourpussed Sleaze of a District Attorney, a part he was born to play. No one yet has their character at the level that we want them to, or saying the things they should be saying. Yet this is still compelling TV, insofar as it’s different: a solar eclipse upon which we wrestling fans, the permanent elementary school glue eaters, cannot help but burn into our retinas with a longing gaze.



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