Friday, 14 March 2014

"Just Remember: I'm the One Your Mamma Warned You About." -- Jake Roberts

Jake Roberts v Ricky Steamboat (WWF, Boston Garden, 8/9/86)

So I watched this match about four years ago for maybe the first time ever and totally loved it. Except I think got the date wrong back then. I'm not sure whether they were running this feud in Philly a bit behind where they were running it in MSG or other markets, but I think these two had been feuding for a few months by now (started at the 5/3 Saturday Night's Main Event when Jake DDT'd Steamboat on the floor and broke his head), yet this feels like a match you'd get early on in a series. Steamboat doesn't seem to want to murder Roberts here, but I'm pretty sure there were matches that happened before this where he comes out at the bell and goes crazy on Jake, you know, like Jake was a man that put him in the hospital. Fuck it, I don't know. This match is still the biscuits either way. I love all of Jake's early "blocking" of Steamboat's karate. Steamboat's karate always looked kind of crummy, but it was treated as a big deal and fans bought it as such, so Jake getting his arms up and neutralising it felt like a great game-plan. And the crowd was reacting like it was too, which is what really matters, I guess. Plus Jake does a bunch of slimy self-satisfied grinning and strutting because he has Steamboat's number. Monsoon and Hayes go on about it at length like a pair of senile old dudes in the home playing armchair quarterback. Steamboat eventually makes his breakthrough (dug him feigning to go high anticipating Jake's block, then going to the exposed midsection) and of course the place pops huge, and you see something like that and you realise how great Jake Roberts was at crowd manipulation. "Jake was a master psychologist" is one of those talking points that has been floating around forever and it's been repeated by smarks and wrestlers alike, but really, the guy just GOT this shit (said by the soon to be senile old dude in the home playing armchair quarterback). Second half of the match gets even better. Steamboat is building on offence and has Jake retreating, but he gets ahead of himself and karate chops the ringpost (accidentally, obv). Jake works it over for the next stretch, and Steamboat selling a body part and emoting is the best Steamboat of all. Jake is really awesome at working the hand/wrist in nasty ways, too. He bends it around the ring post, smashes it into the barricade, stomps on the fingers, wraps it up in the ropes, etc. Booking at the finish is a bit iffy, though. Steamboat seemed to get landed with that shit a lot. Like, how many times was Steamboat on the receiving end of a heels' visual pinfall while the ref' was bumped? Felt like a shitload. Still, this held up like I hoped it would, and it's the kind of match I could see having an outside shot at my top 10 when DVDVR get to the 80s WWF redo.


Jake Roberts v Randy Savage (WWF Saturday Night's Main Event, 11/29/86)

Gene does a pre-match promo with Jake where he quivers at the sight of Damien. Ventura: "Was Okerlund holding a microphone or a vibrator?" Vince says nothing. This is another match I've been a huge fan of for years. It's basically a ten minute sprint between two guys that will cheat and play dirty and make no bones about it. Early on they basically try and out-dickhead each other while going a hundred miles an hour, grabbing hair for leverage on headlocks, throwing cheapshots, etc. As the match goes on the crowd start to get firmly behind Jake, though. Jake doesn't necessarily behave any better as a result, but the longer it goes it's Savage who's the more likely to act like the asshole. He's also petrified of Damien and eventually decides to grab the bag and chuck him under the ring. The DDT had to have been one of the most over moves in the company at this point (I don't think any other finisher was getting its own chant), and I dug how they teased it a few times throughout the match. Savage in general was always great at getting over a sense of desperation, and he made it seem like avoiding the DDT was even more imperative than avoiding being strangled by an honest to goodness python (and he made that seem pretty fuckin' imperative). When he grabs Liz as a human shield, you wonder whether it's Jake or the actual snake he's more afraid of (which is why Savage was king). I'm not sure which Hebnar brother was reffing this (I think Dave was the chunkier of the two, so I'll go with Dave), but whoever it was takes two killer bumps at the finish. Second one was fucking spectacular as he practically almost piledrives himself onto the announce desk at ringside. Super fun match.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Touchin' Down in Memphis, Gonna Find Some Blue Suede Shoes

So it's been about three months since I've written anything for this thing. That's because I haven't watched shit in three months. But now I'm being told by a bunch of people to watch all these great Shield matches that have been happening, and so I figure I might want to ease myself into the whole pro-wrestling again before I do that. And Memphis has always been one of my go-tos for easing myself back into the whole pro-wrestling. So, Memphis:


Rock 'n' Roll Express & Bobby Eaton v The Moondogs & Jimmy Hart (Memphis, 7/25/83)

Seeing the RnR's and Eaton teaming together is a bit like listening to Fear of Music or Speaking in Tongues if you pretend that David Byrne never left to pursue a solo career and instead went on to front yet another insanely great band. A band that eventually would become the mortal enemy of Talking Heads. Managed by a real asshole like, I donno, Liam Gallagher or something. It's almost surreal seeing Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson on the same side as Bobby Eaton, but it's cool either way. I mean, this wasn't great, but it's like ten minutes long and look at who's in it. You know it's watchable. First thing I look for in a manager pulling wrestler duty is how ridiculous he/she looks during the match. Cornette would always look like a total goober with his gigantic pasty diaper straitjacket thing. Remember when Heenan teamed with the Islanders at Wrestlemania 4 and he wore a fucking K9 training suit and looked totally outrageous? I haven't seen a match that Jimmy Hart actually wrestles in in forever, but I think I can remember him always looking like a real numpty with his ring attire. Pretty sure he'd always change it up a bit to fit with his partners for the evening as well. He's teaming with the Moondogs here, so he comes out wearing dungarees that are all cut up at the bottom and he looks like a meth cook that Boyd Crowder blew up in a caravan. I'm a firm advocate of that sort of behaviour. Whole match is basically built around one of the babyfaces getting a shot in on Jimmy while Jimmy tries to stay as far away as possible. So you know how big the pop is when he runs face first into a Bobby Eaton left hook. And it's kind of worth it just for that.  


Koko Ware v Tommy Rogers (Memphis, 10/27/83)

Koko Ware might be one of my ten favourite wrestlers ever at this point. I've probably written that before, but I drink a lot and don't remember. It's no less true, though. He was the biggest surprise of the Memphis project for me (I knew Lawler and Dundee were good, just not quite HOW good (I've probably written that before, too)), and I even had this in my top 30 for the set. Rogers is another guy that's fucking awesome and an all-time level babyface, but he looked kind of off at points here and this really felt like a showcase for Koko Ware's surliness. Does he have the best brainbuster ever (probably asked that before)? He doesn't hit a single dropkick in this (he might have the best dropkick ever, and I KNOW I've written that before), but he does hit two brainbusters, both a bit different, and both super nasty looking. First one drops Tommy all awkward on the side of his head, and the second one looked like it'd break his spine with the way he almost overshoots it initially (like he's going for a regular vertical suplex before thinking "fuck it, I feel brainbustery"). Rogers can't take all of Koko's surliness and tries to slow things down by going to toe holds, which I guess makes some sense, but wasn't that compelling. How could it be when there are other periods of the match where someone is actively being dropped on their skull from several feet? Eventually Koko kicks Tommy in the head some and Rogers gets the bigger picture, so no more toe holds. Then we get a rubbish ref' bump and the finish is...well, what can you do? I'm not even sure you can call any wrestler "underrated" at this point, because there's bound to be a few circles in a corner of the internet somewhere advocating any wrestler you can think of, and I know Koko and Rogers have been pimped, but if nothing else these guys are really great at the pro-wrestling and way better than a TON of guys that have a bunch praised heaped on them. "Koko B. Ware was just a chubby dude with a parrot and Tommy Rogers was a poor man's Ricky Morton." Yeah, well, so's your ma.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Jerry Estrada: Drunken Uncle

Dos Caras v Enrique Vera (2/26/84)

I haven't seen a ton of Dos Caras, but everything I have seen has been at worst in the "neat" category. This wasn't blowaway great or anything, and the matwork wasn't spectacular, but it was rock solid and a nice look at Caras in a title match setting. Some of this felt a bit IWRG-esque in that they'd sort of take turns at wrapping each other up as opposed to the matwork in Cota/Rocca, which was more "constant" -- it wasn't hold-release-hold. I watched this a few days ago now and really don't have much to say about it because I've basically forgotten most of it. Match will very likely be bottom half somewhere.


Jerry Estrada v Ultraman (3/2/84)

One of my favourite things about watching Jerry Estrada is seeing how out of his mind he happens to be on that night. He's like your drunken uncle that shows up to Christmas dinner shitfaced. He ALWAYS shows up shitfaced; it's just a matter of HOW shitfaced. Can he string an entire sentence together? Can he use the cutlery properly? Has he fallen asleep in the carrots? So on and so forth (you'll have plenty examples if, like me, you have a drunken uncle that always shows up to Christmas dinner shitfaced). Estrada is actually about as lucid as I've ever seen him here, but there's still one bit where he manages to fuck up running the ropes. I actually dug this a whole lot. It's mostly matwork, which isn't the kind of thing that made me a Jerry Estrada fan in the first place, but after having watched a few Estrada title matches over the last couple years I'm beginning to think he's pretty damn good at them. Jerry is totally playing to the back row and just selling as extravagantly and loudly as possible, milking the absolute shit out of everything. It's a bit hammy at times, but that's part of the charm of the fucked up lunatic that is Jerry Estrada. Plus his selling the longer the match goes is really great. Both dives in the tercera look really reckless. Neither connects too well, but Estrada still ends up cracking the back of his head off a fixed seat. I think he winds up even deeper in the seats after his own tope than Ultraman does. At some point Jerry goes after Ultraman's arm, and Ultraman really goes above and beyond to sell the finish. I might be the biggest Jerry Estrada fan on this here internet.

Friday, 29 November 2013

And Still Watching 80s Lucha

El Faraón, Herodes & Mocho Cota v Lizmark, Ringo Mendoza & Tony Salazar (2/24/84)

So the rudo unit here is fucking awesome. I've already lumped a ton of praise on Cota, and he deserves all that and more, but Herodes is another guy that's just great. He's a short, tubby little bruiser, and his M.O. in this match is to kick the shit out of people. And he's good at it. I'm not really sure if there's a main match-up here that's setting up a singles match down the line, but if there is then I'll assume it's between Herodes and Salazar, if for no reason other than the fact they're the two that wind up bleeding everywhere and drinking each other's blood. First ten minutes are literally all rudos. Tecnicos get nothing. Shit, only reason the match even goes to a third caida is because the rudos get DQd in the second for gang mauling Salazar so bad. It looked like they were legit trying to kick him to death. Tecnico comeback is great, and one of my favourite things about lucha trios brawling like this is the way you can instantly tell when the big comeback is on. There are times where the tecnicos fight back and you'll be able to tell by the rudos' demeanour that they're not ready to let go just yet. When the switch is flicked and it's time for some real comeuppance, you just FEEL it. And the crowd do, too. Herodes being punted in the balls at the end was exactly the kind of receipt someone like that deserves. This ruled.


Solar, Ultraman & Super Astro v Sergio El Hermoso, Bello Greco & Rudy Reyna (2/26/84)

This was a ton of fun, like a house show version of your greatest southern US tags where everybody knows how to work with everybody else and there's a million and one things they can all do together to send a crowd home happy. Loved all of the exoticos' shtick in this. Reyna and Astro have an awesome exchange at the start where Astro does a bunch of super quick nip-ups. When Reyna tries one he messes it up and kind of flops like a seal, so he just throws his hand up like "fuck this" and tags straight out. Some of the sequences these guys are doing are exactly the sort of sequences fans of the MX and RnRs would dig the hell out of, so in that respect this is another match I could see non-lucha fans really liking. This also has a totally incredible Super Astro dive, and that's the kind of thing anybody can get behind. Halfway through I was hoping Hermoso would bust out his awesome armdrag bumps that he did on the New Japan set, then it gets to the third caida and he takes like five of them in a row. On a set full of piss and blood and guts, this is probably the most straight up fun that you'll get. And I mean that in the absolute best way possible.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

More 80s Lucha (Mocho Cota!!!)

Mocho Cota v Americo Rocca (2/3/84)

Thought this was a few levels below the first match (which really came out of nowhere as a total slam dunk to me personally), but it was still pretty fuggin' great. I really wish we had a truckload of Mocho Cota footage, because the guy is just fantastic. His boots have a symbol on them that looks like a hand with missing fingers, which, y'know, is awesome. First caida has a bunch of quality matwork again. There's one bit where Rocca has Cota in an Indian Deathlock and repeatedly slams the back of his head into the mat, and Cota sells it like someone assaulted him with a rolling pin. Cota gets the better of Rocca in one exchange and musses up his hair like a condescending jackass, and if I was Rocca I'd want to slap him silly as well. The finish to the fall is legitimately the best roll-up spot I've ever seen. Really, it's breathtaking. Cota comes out strong in the second caida like he did in the first match, but it doesn't feel quite as ruthless and one-sided an asswhipping this time. He has these awesome overhand armdrags where he really whips Rocca over, and Rocca takes great bumps off of every one of them. They all look super impactful and way more painful than most armdrags I've ever seen. Cota's submission to take the second fall is still outrageous and someone should absolutely steal it (Punk probably picked this set up...). Third caida is really short, and in that sense it kind of disappointed me, but Cota laughing in Rocca's face in the post-match was just the greatest bit of douchebaggery. This is my working #6 right now after 13 matches. This match, this good...#6. How loaded is this set?


Atlantis & Lizmark v El Egipcio & El Faraón (2/17/84)

I'm not really sure what the pre-match was all about, but it had the Infernales starting shit with Faraon and Egipcio and ended with MS-1 taking an MS-1 face first bump into the ring post. Then Lizmark jumps in the ring and Faraon fucking floors him with a right hook. I wasn't hugely into this, but it had its moments. Faraon and Egipcio are pretty fun ruffians in this; they get a chance to brawl a bit and both guys will tumble around for the technicos. Lizmark hits an awesome springboard armdrag where he gets major height on the springboard part. Atlantis was fine but not quite the Atlantis that's one of the all-time great technicos just yet. Faraon rips off Lizmark's mask post-match (after he'd already kneed him in the stones) and chucks it away, and there's at least one guy in the crowd that I thought was going to jump the ring. I'm interested in seeing more Faraon, because the only memory I really have of him is the Pirata Morgan hair match where Pirata drinks his blood. I mean, that was a hell of a match, but it's mostly Pirata that I remember from it.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Rush, Thunder & Maximo v Negro Casas, Polvora & Mr. Aguila (CMLL, 6/7/13)

I thought this had a lot of pedestrian brawling between four guys, interspersed with some AMAZING brawling from two guys. Casas and Rush, shockingly enough, being the two that brought the goods. Natural comparison would be to the Panther/Casas trios matches where it was those two hating each other to death while everybody else could've provided white noise and it still would've been worth watching for Panther/Casas (I basically wrote about a match exactly like that not long ago). This is wholly worth watching for Casas/Rush, and I absolutely cannot wait to see them kick the shit out of each other some more. At one point Rush comes flying into camera shot and dropkicks Casas REALLY hard right in the face, so Casas later gets Rush in the corner and starts jumping on his head. Rush throws one of the nastiest headbutts I've ever seen and I'm not sure how Casas' nose never got spread across his face. I'd never seen Thunder before. He's pretty huge and imposing and makes his pecs dance a whole lot, like Ahmed Johnson under a mask (although significantly less black). He also seemed pretty slow and cumbersome at first, but then he went a did a cool leaping rana and hit a truly awesome somersault plancha so maybe I should just shut my fucking mouth. He does the rote "I'll puff my chest out while you slap it, then you puff your chest out and I'll slap that, and neither of us will budge because we're MEN" bit with Aguila, but instead of slapping Aguila back he fucking potatoes him clean in the jaw with a punch that looked super reckless and crowbar-y. Basically he struck me as the best possible masked Sid Justice. Not sure that's a compliment and/or makes me want to watch more of him, but I at least find myself fascinated. Still this is 98% Casas and Rush and my body is ready for the next instalment.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Another 80s Lucha Entry

Satanico v Atlantis (1984)

Basically the Satanico show, and a hell of a show it was. Atlantis is fine enough here, but it's Satanico that makes just about everything. At points Atlantis looks...not lost, but he'll take Satanico down and rather than follow up on it he'll kind of look to the crowd for approval and pump his fists like he's about to take care of shit. It's "getting fired up," but then he never actually, like, gets fired up. On the flipside, Satanico just revels in the fact he's being booed and hissed at for brutalising a rookie. He needs no one's approval. There's one great visual of him slicking his hair back with an amazing no-fucks-given grin while everybody around him jeers. I mean, god damn is Satanico good at the pro-wrestling. He spends the first caida bumping and rolling around, then in the segunda he fights out of an octopus stretch by elbowing Atlantis in the balls, and from that point on it becomes a shitkicking. Then it becomes a massacre. He tears Atlantis' mask, bites him in the head, spits his blood; just smashes the living shit out of him, and like a true sadist, clearly loves what he's doing. When Atlantis makes his comeback he bites Satanico right back (as in, literally bites him right back), and it looks like Satanico blades straight after it, which was pretty cool in a morbid sort of way. Usually the blading comes after a post shot or something, then comes the forehead biting. This time it was the forehead biting that drew blood in the first place. Satanico continues to rule it into the post-match, feigning a show of respect before punching Atlantis in the chin. This was really great, and it's pretty much all because of Satanico.


Mocho Cota v Americo Rocca (1/27/84)

So Manuel Cota only has three fingers on his right hand (hence, Mocho/Cripple...yeah). I don't know what happened to them, but I like to think he lost them fighting a bear. I also like to think that bear later became a rug in his living room. Cota was incredible in this, and I thought it was a truly outstanding match. I could see non-lucha fans digging it a bunch as well, because it has plenty of American/Japanese wrestling aspects to it. First caida matwork was awesome, everything fought for and rugged and gritty. It's still very "lucha," but I can't see someone that ordinarily doesn't like lucha matwork complaining about holds being given up too easily or any of it feeling cooperative. The close-ups of Cota are really cool, because you always see him grimacing or visibly straining to gain position. Second caida is where things become a bit more "American." Cota zeroes in on Rocca's arm, and it becomes a focus of the rest of the match. It's rare that that's the case in lucha, which is another thing that sometimes turns people off ("the limb work never went anywhere"), but Cota really goes after it and Rocca sells it like it means something. Cota takes him down in really nasty ways, like kind of headbutting him in the shoulder while driving him to the mat, then he twists and pulls the arm like he's trying to take it home with him. Rocca basically gets no offence in the second caida. Cota fucks him up good and proper, and the submission at the end had me thinking "what the fuck even WAS that?" Third fall keeps building and building, but Cota still goes after the arm when he gets the chance. His second also starts running subtle distraction spots so Cota can half choke Rocca, and as the match goes on the more obvious the cheating becomes. Cota fucking nukes Rocca in the face with a dropkick and I can't even tell you how glorious this dropkick was. Then he nukes him again with a tope and Rocca flies like fourteen miles up the ramp. It gets to a point where Cota is becoming frustrated at not being able to put Rocca away no matter what he tries, so when the ref' gets bumped you have a pretty good idea of what's coming. Finish isn't actually as blatant a screwjob as I was expecting, and I actually liked it a lot given how relatively subtle it was. Post-match isn't quit near-riot material, but the crowd are not happy one bit. Which means we get a rematch, which means I'm a happy boozehound. Seriously, this was tremendous, and even this soon into the set it feels like a top 20 lock.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Lucha Libre Month???? Probly.

Sangre Chicana v Ringo Mendoza (10/28/83)

And now for a totally different look at Sangre Chicana. Pretty sure this is the first time I've seen him in a title match setting (and the second time where he isn't bleeding and brawling all over the shop like a fucked up lunatic, after the Andre tag earlier on the disc). As a match I didn't think it was a real slam dunk - although it was really good - but there's still plenty of Chicana-isms present. Just about everything the guy does feels like a big deal, sort of like how Hashimoto makes even a stare down feel momentous. They do a bit where they both keep hold of an armdrag and end up on the floor, still with their arms hooked, and you get the sense that if Chicana were to fling a punch then and there things would deteriorate into a hurricane of blood and piss and vinegar real quick. Not that that would be a bad thing, of course. He's such a great seller, the way he kind of walks the line between overstated and just right to perfection. Mendoza's dive fake-out in the primera was really awesome. He run the ropes and Chicana expects the tope, so he hits the deck right away. Mendoza stops short and lies flat on the mat, then when Chicana jumps up on the apron (after he looks around and can't see Mendoza) he gets knocked back down with a dropkick, and that's followed up by a plancha. Ringo's struggle to reverse Chicana's stretch plum (or whatever) into a torture rack down the stretch was really fucking cool. Made the whole thing feel like a real gruelling contest. Could've done with a few more minutes at the end, but folks throwing money in the ring and the kids jumping in there with Chicana post-match is an awesome bit of 80s Mexican wrestling that went a ways to making up for it.


El Hijo del Santo & Atlantis v Fuerza Guerrera & Lobo Rubio (11/25/83)

Well this is a Fuerza match, so you know that even if it was total garbage I'd still find something about it that tickled me. It was not total garbage, however. It was way the fuck in the other direction. Fuerza hasn't really honed his douchebaggery into the razor sharp sword of shitheaded perfection quite yet, but he will still try and handshake his way out of a situation. Then of course he'll cheapshot you and I'll love it to death. He throws a few incredible punches in this, right under Santo's chin. This is mostly a technico showcase though, and it fucking ruled the earth. First caida is just loaded with awesome exchanges. The rudos are pretty much the perfect counterpoint to what Santo and Atlantis are doing, hurling themselves around, catching and flying into everything, etc. I think this is the first time I've seen Lobo Rubio, but he was great in this. I mean, in order for the technicos' stuff to look as good as it did, you need a good base, and Rubio was a GREAT base. Is there a more graceful wrestler in history than Santito? He has fourteen million headscissor variations, and there was one in the the first caida that might have been the most gorgeous headscissor I've ever seen. Then he rolls out these amazing armdrags that might've been the greatest armdrags of all time. All of Atlantis' stuff looked spectacular as well, and shit, maybe HE'S the most graceful wrestler in history. Fuerza and Rubio going all "fuck it" and taking the match down a darker path in the segunda is exactly what I wanted. Rubio chucking Santo out the ring down the stretch like he was taking a throw-in was fucking outrageous, and I'm surprised Santo's ACLs didn't snap like rubber bands then and there. The stereo dives at the end were as huge as you want them to be, too. Atlantis' tope suicida was exactly what you'd expect out of a move with "suicide" in its name. Total blast of a tag match.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Virus! Panther! Virus Again!

Virus v Blue Panther (CMLL, 5/12/13)

So this is leading to a lengthy singles match between the two, right? Or even better, a lengthy singles feud where we get a bunch of lengthy singles matches and trios focused on said feud. Right? I don't even care if it doesn't go the Panther/Casas route of them stomping the absolute dogshit out of each other every time they match up; if they stick to doing this every time then I'll be completely content. I mean, this was pretty much everything you want in a ten minute Virus v Blue Panther primer. Whole match is more or less worked on the mat, and it ruled like you hoped it would. I get the standard criticisms of lucha. Most of them don't really bother me and the rest don't bother me at all. Some of those criticisms are actually things I find add to the charm of lucha in general. I hear the criticism that lucha matwork can look too "exhibitiony" and/or holds are given up too easily. Most people that like lucha have heard that criticism. It's like Dylan fans hearing non-Dylan fans say his voice is too nasaly and they can't understand what he's saying. I've managed to get people who don't like Dylan to listen to Blood on the Tracks, and they've wound up coming out of it saying it was really depressing and his voice was too nasaly. I've managed to get people who don't like lucha to watch IWRG matches that I love, and they've wound up coming out of it saying it felt too exhibitiony and holds were given up too easily. I understand that criticism of IWRG because there are absolutely matches where guys like Navarro and Solar will take turns at tying each other up, letting go, then seeing what the other guy can come back with. I actively enjoy that aspect of it, but I get why others don't, especially if you're not high on lucha (and, by extension, lucha matwork) in the first place. This wasn't that. This was two masters struggling for everything and giving no ground, and it was grade A fucking awesome. There's one bit where Panther is trying to lock in a Tapatia, but Virus just will not give up his arms. Panther then starts twisting the ankle so Virus rolls over to alleviate the pressure, and that opens up a whole new world of possibilities for a guy with as many holds in the holster as Panther. "Human chess match" is a cliché term, but if it applies to any match, it applies to this. And if this isn't the precursor to something bigger...


Virus, Puma & Misterioso Jr. v  Fuego, Hijo del Fantasma & Hombre Bala Jr. (CMLL, 5/19/13)

Shockingly enough, Virus looked great yet again. Of everything I've watched so far, he's probably my frontrunner for Best in the World (or Best in the Mexico, because I doubt I'll watch much from anywhere else). The early exchange with Fuego was really good and picked up where the October '12 title match left off. I don't have much of an opinion on the technicos either way, but they all looked good here. Hombre Bala Jr. hits a killer tornillo in the third caida, Hijo del Fantasma takes out Puma and Misterioso Jr. with a sweet Dustin Rhodes-esque clothesline from the ramp into the ring, and Fuego's tope con hilo in the third was totally spectacular. But this was mostly about the rudos. I've mostly been talking about your Viruses and Panthers and Negro Casas' since I started going through this stuff, but CMLL has a ton of great supporting cast guys like Namajague and Puma. Puma was a really fun shithead in this. At one point he kicks the middle rope as Fantasma goes to springboard off it causing him to splat on his neck. Misterioso is in hyper dickhead mode and is all rudo posturing and douchebag behaviour. He pulls the top and middle ropes apart as Fantasma is about to run them, and that causes Fantasma to splat on his neck again, only this time on the ramp. For the finish he just decides fuck it and rips off Fantasma's mask. Then he puts the boots to him while Fantasma tries to cover up.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

I Said I was Gonna get Caught up on 2013 CMLL, so I'm Getting Caught up on 2013 CMLL

Blue Panther, Averno & Shocker v Negro Navarro, Black Terry & Villano IV (CMLL, 4/7/13)

Panther/Navarro is everything you want out of Panther/Navarro in this very wrestling match. Their exchange in the first caida is really the highlight of the whole thing, the way they'll counter and roll through and counter again into nastier and nastier looking shit. It's a shame that there probably isn't going to be a lengthy singles match between the two, because it'd rule. For a fifty six year old man, Negro Navarro has such a genuine badass aura about him, like a balder Danny Trejo wielding Espectrinos rather than machetes. It must suck being the guy Navarro tries all of these medieval torture holds on. You think the Hart kids had it bad? Sheeeeit. I haven't seen any Black Terry in about a year and a half, but shockingly enough he still looked tremendous. He's sixty one years old at this point and he's probably been one of the ten best wrestlers on earth this decade (fuck, about five of those ten guys are in their fifties at least). Villano didn't do a ton on the mat, but he was spin kicking people in the lungs and rolling out super fast tubby guy armdrags. Shocker was, once again, pretty visibly the worst guy in the match. I'm beginning to wonder if he was ever all that good. I mean, I could say I'll go back and watch some 90s Shocker (because I watched a bunch of 00s Shocker over the last couple years, and he wasn't very good in any of it), but I really can't be bothered.


Virus, Puma & Namajague v Angel de Oro, Diamante & Valiente (CMLL, 4/30/13)

Man, Namajague had a rough couple months. First he loses the mask, then he loses his hair. The tag with Okamura against Cometa & Stuka was actually the first time I'd seen him, but I'd read enough pimping of him that my expectations were high. After that match and now this (still need to see the match with Cometa where he loses the locks), I can say they've been pretty well met. He never did it in this match, but in the tag there was this great spot where he went to kick Cometa in the gut, but Cometa caught his leg and pulled him forward, so Namajague wound up doing the splits, and while he was in that position Cometa just kneed him clean in the face. He's clearly a total bump freak of the highest order, and here he takes two AMAZING monkey flip bumps out of the corner where he gets like four seconds hang time. Honestly, I don't remember the last time a Japanese guy came in and took to lucha like this. Still, for all that, the Virus/Valiente section at the start was the highlight of the match. When are we going to get a singles match? Oro and Diamante do a bunch of neat rope-assisted armbrags in this, but they're at their most interesting when the rudos are mugging them. The technicos' stereo topes in the tercera was a pretty great spot, though. I'll take Virus v Valiente now, thanks.

Monday, 18 November 2013

2013 Lucha

Rey Hechicero v Charles Lucero (Monterrey, 8/4/13)

Well this was exceptional. Every time I've seen Hechicero over the last five or so years he's been really great. I haven't exactly followed current wrestling closely in a while, so maybe I just haven't read a ton about him, but he feels like one of the best wrestlers in the world that hardly anybody is talking about. Lucero is a guy I'm not even sure I've seen before. Luchawiki confirms what I thought about him - dude's old - and suggest he's primarily a Monterrey guy. I think I've watched less Monterrey in recent years than I've watched TNA, so that probably explains why I haven't seen much(any?) of him before (although Hechicero is mostly a Monterrey guy as well so who knows). Match is really an awesome blend of lucha maestros matwork (I guess Hechicero isn't really a maestro (as in, he's not that old), but the match is paced like that) and lucha title match build. First caida is supreme. Both guys just rip it up on the mat and there were about six holds that I'd never seen before. Lucero is slower and feels more like a Navarro type, whereas Hechicero is quicker and has a bit more snap to everything. In true grumpy old man fashion Lucero will get fed up and punch him in the dish. Second caida is like the calm before the storm that is the tercera, but Hechicero's submission at the end of it looked absolutely killer. Like most of your super high end lucha title matches, the third caida is what really pushes this into the upper tier. Everything builds really well, then Hechicero goes and brains himself by taking a fucking screwball headfirst bump into the front row off a missed tope. They run about fifteen replays, and every single angle makes it look insane (because it was). The doc is out trying to stick a neck brace on him while Lucero tries to go in for the kill, then HE goes and takes a nutso bump off the apron and the doc is ready to stop the whole thing before someone literally dies. The final submission is the kind of thing that makes you think, "yeah, that was a fucking lucha title match." The spot before it probably also broke every rib that Lucero had left. I won't watch a truckload of wrestling from this year, but even if I wound up watching everything, I can't imagine finding more than five matches better than this.


Virus, Cancerbero & Raziel v Magnus, Stigma & Starman (CMLL, 2/24/13)

I dug this a ton. Honestly, I thought the first caida here was up there with just about any opening caida that I've seen in a long time. I loved all three Cancerberos in this, but Virus especially looked incredible. His opening exchange with Stigma was really awesome, but he was great any time he was doing something, no matter who it was with. Stigma looked really crisp and can obviously go on the mat considering he was hanging with fucking Virus himself. I'll try and check out some more of his stuff from this year. Los Cancerberos were pretty awesome shitheads in the third caida, instigating a mugging then back-pedalling when it blew up in their faces. Virus gets into a slap exchange, then when he thinks it's going south he just waves his hands and leaves the ring like, "nope, this is not fun after all." Cancerbero gets caught in between Starman and Magnus on the ramp, and he has this great "okay, let's just be friends" reaction to it. It's like they're just waiting for the right moment to strike, then it presents itself and the niceties are thrown out the window like you and I and everybody else knew they would be. Virus is probably the best wrestler on the planet at this point in time.


Astral & Shockercito v Demus 3:16 & Pierrothito (CMLL, 3/29/13)

Well shit, maybe it's actually Demus who's the best wrestler on the planet at this point in time. If I'm going to sit and watch guys run through highspots in 2013 then the CMLL minis are the guys I want to sit and watch run through highspots, and this was a hell of a highspot showcase. At one point Shockercito gets monkey flipped onto Demus' shoulders where he then headscissors him to the floor, and it probably would've been the best spot of 2013 if Rey Hechicero hadn't torperdo'd himself into a fixed seat five months later. Demus was fucking outstanding as your rudo base here, though. Well, both rudos were great bases, but Demus was on a whole 'nother level (and not just as a base, either). He tears into Shockercito for being tiny, then later on he and Pierrothito literally chuck him all the way across the ring. When the technicos run into him and Demus doesn't budge, you can buy that. He's such a stocky little fucker that it's probably like running into a garage door, especially when you're a midget. He also bites Astral's fingers and nipples, which I guess is exactly the kind of offence you expect out of a guy that looks like Demus. The powerbomb he kills Astral with before the finish also looked horrific. This was just a ton of fun.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Blue Panther, Shocker & Mascara Dorada v Negro Casas, Mr. Niebla & Felino (CMLL, 2/12/13)

This was pretty much a complete two man show. Shocker and Niebla do literally nothing of note, and I don't actually think I've seen a single post-'99 Shocker match that he's been any good in. This is the first time I've seen Felino since he lost the mask and he looks like a rapist drummer in a hair metal band. He's dressed like something from an Eric Prydz parody video here. Dorada tries to take him over with a sunset flip at one point, so Felino blocks(counters?) it by wiping sweat from his armpit and rubbing it in Dorada's face. Which was different. To be fair, Dorada is really only there for a few moments of flash, and those moments do look really swanky. But fuck all that because this is about Negro Casas and Blue Panther. I'm a scumbag of the highest order and still haven't watched the hair match from last year, but everything they did in that feud was fucking awesome, and their exchanges in this take a page right out of that same book. Casas mugs him in the aisle and Panther ends up half hanging off the ramp while the guy sitting directly underneath has this great "what do I do? Do I help him?" look. At one point Panther is sparked out in the front row like some old geezer just took a stroke in the middle of a crowd of people. Casas also bites Panther multiple times. Panther has an armbar so Casas bites his fingers, then Panther does the corner fasewash bit and Casas starts biting Panther's thigh! Then he spits on him a bunch and it fucking ruled. Seriously, you could stick four other utterly useless guys in there (Shocker and Niebla weren't utterly useless as opposed to just...being...there) and this would still be worthwhile for Casas and Panther.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Some 2013 CMLL

Rush v El Terrible (CMLL, 1/22/13)

When did Rush get so good? I don't think I saw a single Rush match from last year, so maybe it was a 2012 thing and I just missed it, but he definitely hasn't been at this level in anything I've seen him in before. He was fucking awesome here. Terrible throws some really vicious looking strikes and brought a level of hatred to everything, but Rush was doing all that, ramping it up about seven more notches, and then doing a bunch of other great shit on top of it. I'm pretty sure Rush is a full time technico at this point in the year and Terrible is a full time rudo, but the crowd is almost entirely behind Terrible. It's not like a smark crowd turning on Cena, though. Terrible deliberately acts like a sympathetic rudo. And oh my Christ does Rush deliberately act like a complete cunt. There's a great bit where he pretends to take Terrible's head off and punt it into the crowd like a football. He's so good at making his comebacks with these amazing roid-raged spurts of violence, like repeatedly chucking Terrible head first into the ring barricade in a really nasty fashion. He also hits a screwball tope con hilo that would've taken a six year old's head off if there were no barriers around the front row. All of the slugfest spots looked killer, primarily because Terrible is at his best when he's throwing wild hooks, and Rush has a few incredible KO sells of potato shots. Stretch run got a bit your turn/my turn, and Tirantes is the WOAT pro-wrestling referee (well, prominent one, anyway. He's been around for like sixty eight years), but Terrible constantly putting his feet on the ropes during pins to a chorus of cheers was great. And if you're gonna do a dick kick finish then you really need to do it right. Terrible did it right.


Negro Casas v Valiente (CMLL, 2/4/13)

Thought this was a step down from Rush/Terrible, but well, Rush/Terrible feels like a real MOTYC to me, so that's a pretty high bar. This was still pretty great, though. First caida in this certainly had better matwork than the first caida of Rush/Terrible. Although the primera in Rush/Terrible was more about the hint of violence that everything carried as opposed to guys WORKING THE MAT. This didn't have the same kind of violent and hateful tone to it, but it wasn't supposed to. What it did have was two guys that can go on the mat, GOING on the mat. They kind of flub a spot and wind up tangled in the ropes, so Valiente grabs a leg and tries to hook an ankle lock while Casas tries to shake him off and scoot away. It was a minor moment, but it's the kind of thing two lesser guys wouldn't have been able to pull off. With most guys it would've looked like a flub. With these guys, it looked like a legit struggle. Casas will pretty much always have cool little bits like that in his matches, not necessarily in covering up for flubs, but by adding neat touches to otherwise routine things. There's another example in the tercera where Valiente hits one of those Lesnar-style double pwerbombs. Usually I hate that spot, because it's so obvious that the guy taking the move is cooperating because the guy doing it basically can't pull it off properly without his help (I think Lesnar is the only guy with freakish enough Hercules strength to make it look at least somewhat organic, and that was on Spike Dudley who weighs about fourteen pounds). After Valiente hits the initial powerbomb he holds on so he can cradle Casas. Casas then tries to pry open Valiente's grip, so there's at least a viable excuse for him holding onto Valiente as he's picked up for the second powerbomb. It's obviously still cooperative, but it's a cool touch that at least makes it easier to buy into. Casas works the leg briefly in the segunda, and even though it gets dropped after a few minutes it means you get Casas taunting Valiente to get back to his feet before kicking him in the knee again. He also drags him into the crowd and stomps a chair onto the knee, so it was worth it. Badass finish, too.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

And More 80s Lucha

Sangre Chicana v MS-1 (9/23/83)

Pretty much a masterpiece. I mean, this is what pro-wrestling is all about, right? Two guys that do not like each other putting something of value on the line (in this case, pride via hair) in a seedy, dimly-lit arena and proceeding to kick the living shit out of each other until one of them can physically no longer get up. In the end the ring mat is covered in blood and mucus and it looks like a slaughterhouse floor, and you think, "Did anybody REALLY win that? Was it all worth it?" Then you take one look at Sangre Chicana as MS-1 throws a bald bitchfit and you think, "Yeah...it was worth it." MS-1 jumps Chicana at the start and repeatedly rams his head into the edge of the ring mat, and if you've heard the stories about the canvases in Mexico then you can buy it as him ramming Chicana's head into a brick wall. Chicana is bleeding all over himself after thirty seconds and MS-1 just REVELS in it, like nothing in his life has filled him with this much joy. First caida is 100% MS-1. Chicana gets nothing. Not a thing. Heading into the segunda you're wondering if Chicana is going to be able to mount any sort of comeback whatsoever. Then he ducks a punch and fucking DRILLS MS-1 with a left hand, and the crowd just comes completely unglued. It's probably one of the best transition spots I've ever seen, and it leads directly to Chicana hitting this incredible tope that looks really reckless and desperate, which is exactly how a tope should look when it's being done by a guy that's lost so much blood he can barely stand. MS-1 gets split open from the edge of the ring apron, which is a great payback, and of course he starts bleeding everywhere himself. So by the final fall you've got blood staining everything. Some of the selling in the tercera is truly impeccable. Both guys look like they're on their last legs and having to dig deeper than they've ever had to dig before. Which is how it should be, really. Even something as simple as MS-1 staggering and falling as he tries to walk over to the corner; it's so simple and small, yet it adds so much. MS-1 goes for a double-underhook suplex and can't grip his own hands because they're so slick with blood, so he has to just grab Chicana's tights instead (credit to goodhelmet for spotting that one). He goes for a tope as Chicana is staggering around on the floor like a wino, but as he flies through the ropes Chicana manages to sidestep it and basically chuck him head-first into the front row, which is just about the greatest counter to a tope that you ever did see. There's a bit where Chicana is trying to slap some life into himself and appears to hit himself so hard that he almost knocks himself out again, which is something that would probably come off as a comedy spot in most matches, but in this there's nothing funny about it. And then the finish. I saw literally no give on the mat when MS-1 came off the top, and with the way he lands all awkward I'm wondering how he didn't wind up in a wheelchair (is he in a wheelchair nowadays? Estrada is so I see no reason to believe MS-1 isn't). Everybody should watch this. I get that lucha isn't a style everybody will enjoy, but this at least has elements that everybody can get behind. Even watch it for the performances of both guys. I mean, no match is going to hit the sweet spot with everybody, but I honestly don't remember reading or hearing anything but praise for this. There have been minor criticisms here and there and no match is perfect and all that, but the general sentiment that I've gotten has always been overwhelmingly positive. Maybe this feels fresher because it's a relatively "new" discovery (only really surfaced about eight years ago, I think) in a style of wrestling that not THAT many people talk about (it's basically a sub-genre of a sub-genre of a sub-genre) while your big All Japan matches like 6/9/95 and 6/3/94 have been talked about to death for almost twenty years. Shit, it DOES feel fresher, at least to me personally, which is kind of strange considering I've watched this more times since I first saw it than I have any of the big All Japan matches. But in general I think there's been so much discussion on All Japan over the years that a lot of people are actively looking for something new and fresh. Well, I guess people are always looking for something new and fresh. I'm not even sure what point I'm trying to get across now. Fuck it. Y'all should just watch this match because it's pretty much up there with anything ever and if you like pro-wrestling then you'll find something to like about this pro-wrestling match.


Sangre Chicana, La Fiera & Mocho Cota v MS-1, Satanico & Espectro Jr. (9/30/83)

This fucking ruled as well. MS-1 is pissed after losing his hair so he and his team just mug Chicana and pals before they've even stepped in the ring, and from that point on it pretty much never lets up once. Match is really one gigantic clusterfuck brawl, and I mean that in the absolute best way possible. Whole thing is wild and out of control, and a wild and out of control lucha trios match is one of my favourite things in wrestling. Everybody in this was fucking great, but Satanico might've been king of the mountain. He lays into everybody and goes on an absolute tear. The Infernales will isolate someone in the ring as the other two technicos (Chicana's squad are guys I normally think of as rudos as well, but within the context of this feud I guess they're technicos) frantically try and climb in, and Satanico is awesome as this enforcer that will boot them in the face to knock them back down to the floor. The technico comeback really fells like it's earned. A few times it looks like they've got a foothold, but it rarely lasts long and soon enough they're back eating ringposts again. When they do finally take over the crowd realise it, and the reaction is as great as it should be. Of course the return beatdown on the Infernales is everything you want it to be. At one point Fiera rips off Espectro's mask (which is a fucking belter, btw) and walks around with it like he's just scalped him. Chicana and Satanico then take turns punting each other in the dick, and well, if those two weren't already great enough they go and show you how you're supposed to sell getting punted in the dick. Even in the post-match Chicana looks like he's about to puke. This was pretty much a perfect follow up to the apuestas match.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Leono & Tigre Blanco v Bobby Zavala & Disturbo (CMLL, 1/1/13)

So the 80s lucha set kind of put me in the mood to get caught up on lucha from this year. I've watched practically no wrestling from 2013, but from what I've read CMLL has had a really good year with a bunch of really good stuff, so I wanted to check out most of the things that have been pimped and/or things that just plain interest me on paper. A couple days ago I started doing that. And I'm gonna try and keep doing it, like little intermissions, as I go through the 80s set.

This happened on the first day of the year so I figured it'd be the best place to start. The only one of the four that I know I've seen before is Tigre Blano, but I don't remember any sort of impression I got from him in the past. He was pretty terrific in this, though. His rapid fast ankle lock thing in the first caida was fucking spectacular. Like, I'm trying to come up with a list of guys that could do that as quickly and as smoothly as he did it in this match, and there aren't many coming to mind. His rolling headscissors over the top rope was really cool, too. The other three guys absolutely held up their end in this as well. Disturbo hits an INSANE backbreaker in the segunda that I expected to leave Leono paralysed, Zavala threw a bunch of quality strikes, and Leono really came across as a guy that was going to use this chance in the spotlight to go balls out. The double springboard moonsault from Leono and Tigre looked completely wild, although unfortunately we never got multi-angle slow-mo replays. Finish is pretty daft, but everything leading up to it was really good. If I come across another Leono or Tigre Blanco match on this excursion I'll make a point of watching it.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

More 80s Lucha

El Canek v Don Corleone (2/14/82)

Frasier is the ref' again. This was alright, but I thought it was definitely the weakest of the four matches so far. It's the kind of thing I guess I could see non-lucha fans liking more than folks that naturally enjoy lucha, because it's worked more like an old-school NWA title match than a lucha title match. If you do enjoy lucha then this might not do a ton for you. People that just don't get much out of lucha would maybe rank this relatively high on the ballot. People that do like lucha probably won't rank it very high at all. So, like, there's that. But even then this isn't a great example of an old-school NWA title match, and if you don't enjoy lucha then why would you be watching the set in the first place? so maybe I'll just move on already. Prevailing opinion here seems to be that Corleone was the better guy in the match, while Canek outright sucked. I agree with the former, but I didn't really think Canek was terrible. There was a cool bit where Corleone has him in a sort of chinlock, so Canek reaches up and starts twisting Corleone's head in almost a neck vice, so Corleone drops the point of his elbow on Canek's trapezius. Corleone's tope in the tercera looked real good. I came out of this thinking, "Man, El Canek's mask was super swank." I came out of the set opener thinking, "Man, that was fucking great. Plus Perro's boots were tremendous." I guess that when someone's ring gear is the FIRST thing you think of upon reflection on a match...


Tatsumi Fujinami v El Canek (6/12/83)

Same vein as the last match, in that it felt less like a lucha title match than a 70s NWA title match. Honestly, if I'd muted this and blatantly ignored the fact everybody in the crowd are Hispanic, I'd have figured this was something off the New Japan set rather than the lucha set. Match never did a ton for me. Canek does these weird flying forearm things that are more like diving elbow drops, but they're done to a standing opponent rather than an opponent lying on the canvas. They look kind of cool in a reckless sort of way, but I'm not sure he doesn't do them because he's just not very good. It's like he's a character in a Smackdown! game (or a WWE 2k game now, I guess) where the elbow drop button's been pressed, and that's the move that's being done whether the other character gets back to his feet or not. The command has been made; there's no coming back. Ref' bump in the tercera was actually pretty great and I wasn't expecting it at all. Shitty finish...wasn't pretty great. Both Canek matches are basically interchangeable as my current barrel-scraper.


Kevin von Erich, Mascara Ano 2000 & Halcon Ortiz v Coloso Colosetti, Pirata Morgan & Herodes (9/23/83)

Kevin Von Erich being in this match gives it a WAR point for its sheer randomness. He clearly isn't used to this style and there are some points where he kind of takes a step back like, "well shit, this ain't Texas." But he holds up his end fine and he has these amazingly stiff and reckless elbow drops. Plus his barefoot hillbilly crossbody looked great. Kevin's unfamiliarity aside, this was the closest thing to "traditional lucha" on the set so far. That and the fact it came after two matches that never did a ton for me (nor did they "feel" like lucha) probably helped it, but I really dug this a bunch. Herodes is such a great portly rudo asskicker here, throwing some wild looking punches and eating a crazy KVE elbow drop in the guts. Pretty sure he sells it over the course of two falls as well. Pirata Morgan does what Pirata Morgan does and almost dies at least two times. His first bump to the floor was probably the craziest of his two big bumps in the match, but his second looked the more likely to smash his tail bone into a million pieces, even if the fall wasn't from as great a height. I don't think I've seen Halcon Ortiz before, but I was into all of his exchanges. There's a great bit where Colosetti keeps charging him only to be armdragged to the mat time after time, so eventually he just throws his hands up and walks away. "Aw fuck it, what's the point?" I'd say this is close to being my working #1 to this point, but the next match is Chicana/MS-1 and there's but a handful of matches in wrestling history that are fucking with that match, so right now anything else is simply a place holder.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Lucha 80s Set

So I got this about a month or so ago, and this is me finally cracking it open. Set list looks incredible, of course. I will now watch it (over the next eight months) and write about what I feel like writing about, I guess.


Gran Hamada & Satoru Sayama v Perro Aguayo & Baby Face (4/13/80)

Perro fucking ruled this. His caveman boots are spectacular and he was surly as all get out. I don't even remember the last time I watched a Perro Aguayo match, but I'll assume he's always had great knee strikes and I just never realised it. He throws knees right to the sternum of standing opponents in this and they looked super nasty. His senton off the top in the segunda was even more rib-crushing than the knees. He also has this aura of condescension and "you are beneath me" about him, and there's a great bit where he and Hamada end up the ring together so he just strolls out because what is Gran Hamada to Perro Aguayo? The escalation of their exchanges from the first fall through to the finish is a cool theme. Hamada is as graceful and sharp as ever here. There's an awesome bit where he comes in and runs rings round the rudos with armdrags and flips, and it ends with him mule kicking out of a Baby Face full nelson, rolling forward up to his feet and instantly clocking Perro in the chin with a right hook. Sayama was fine here, too. He does his stuff and he does it really fast, and for a change most of it comes off looking like it actually connected. I'm not sure what he was doing at the end of the first fall though, just kind of running through submissions that he couldn't apply properly before finally settling on something that might've been a cross armbreaker. "Alright, fuck it, this'll do." He also looks a bit like Luis Suarez. Unfortunately he did not bite or racially abuse anybody (that I could tell, anyway). Match really had a bit of everything, from nifty sequences to bloody brawling to Perro Aguayo's incredible boots. Perro's punt to the plums for the finish was fucking grade A as well. Great way to start off the set.


Andre the Giant & Cien Caras v Sangre Chicana, Herodes & Alfonso Dantes (1981)

I think this is the only time I've ever seen Sangre Chicana where he isn't bleeding and brawling all over the shop like a fucked up lunatic. He's still just about the most charismatic fucker you've ever seen, though. His posturing in front of Andre pre-match is so awesome. You want to crack him in the teeth just from the way he chews his gum. Match is pretty much a total Andre showcase. All the early stuff where he hoists Herodes and Dantes up off the ground while they apply top wristlocks was cool, and the crowd seem totally into it. Chicana has that genuine star aura about him, though. No matter what's going on I can't help but have my attention drawn to Chicana, which is a massive compliment considering Andre is in there for 90% of the match. Herodes and Dantes bump and stooge and play along like they mean it. Those guys are at worst "good" in this match. But Chicana is just everything that is RIGHT about pro-wrestling, and to me this was basically fifteen or so minutes of Chicana being Chicana, albeit on a much smaller, less chaotic scale. Cien Caras also participated.


Gran Hamada v Centurion Negro (2/14/82)

At first I thought Frasier Crane was refereeing this. Then the camera zooms in a bit and it's actually Lou Thesz, which is sorta random and cool. Matwork to start isn't exactly Navarro/Solar levels, but then not much is, I guess. It was solid enough and I was definitely into it, though. Centurion Negro reels off about four underhook belly-to-belly suplexes in this and every time it looked like he was trying to bridge into a pin attempt but could never bridge high enough or get Hamada's shoulders down properly. Then as the match went on it looked like that might've been deliberate, and instead of trying to pin Hamada he was actually applying some kind of Cattle Mutilation/chicken-wing submission. The camera shot of Negro's dive in the tercera wasn't great, but it definitely pasted Hamada like you'd want. They're in an outdoor arena and the floor is filthy (must've been raining), so Hamada comes up looking like he's just rolled around in dirt. Centurion Negro literally toped Gran Hamada to shit. Hamada's flip out of a back body drop is probably the best in history.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

In Saint James Parish Tenryu was Born and Christened. Now he's got his Story Mister, ain't no Need for you to Listen. It's Just a Dead Man Talkin'

Genichiro Tenryu v Toshiaki Kawada (All Japan, 10/28/00) - EPIC

So, if you were to ask me what my idea of good Japanese pro-wrestling is, I'd probably just show you this match. Because this is exactly the kind of epic slugfest I want in my Japanese pro-wrestling. Match starts out with them sort of circling each other cautiously, taking care even when separating for rope breaks in case the other tries to sneak in a shot. Of course, you know where this is heading. How many clean breaks are you going to see before Tenryu punches someone in the nose? In this instance, two. Then they get to hitting each other REAL hard and pretty much never let up for the next twenty or so minutes. Kawada punts Tenryu in the spine, Tenryu chops Kawada in the throat, Kawada elbows Tenryu in the face, Tenryu punches Kawada in the jaw. Every punch Tenryu throws is just brutal, and this is Kawada eating punches so you get plenty of awesome crumpled up sells where he has the vacant look on his face, and really, nobody is better at "thousand yard stare" selling than Kawada. You just know there's only so many punches he'll take before he REALLY loses the rag, and the moment where he's had enough and decks Tenryu with a right hook is fucking spectacular. There's a spell of a few minutes where Tenryu goes after Kawada's leg, and it doesn't really go anywhere, but he digs his knuckles into Kawada's kneecap and it all looks nasty and surly, so it works fine as a pit-stop on the road to hitting each other in the face some more. Down the stretch Kawada goes to the backdrops, and Tenryu does this great stumble sell where he tries to stand up before falling through the ropes in a heap. Kawada then boots him off the apron and Tenryu's beak gets splattered across his face. Finish is amazing: Tenryu swings for the fences with a wild lariat that Kawada ducks, but Tenryu instantly turns and catches him in the temple with an absolute fucker of a punch. Kawada goes dead weight (there's a bunch of great moments of Kawada selling in this, but his sell of the final punch is the best of all), so Tenryu picks him up for one last powerbomb. If this match on paper interests you even a little, then watch it. Trust me, you want every second of it.


Complete & Accurate Tenryu

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Tenryu's Been Ten Thousand Miles in the Mouth of a Graveyard, and it's a Hard, it's a Hard, it's a Hard, it's a Hard, it's a Hard Rain's a-gonna Fall.

Genichiro Tenryu & Jun Akiyama v Kenta Kobashi & Akira Taue (NOAH, 9/18/05) - EPIC

Yeah, this is as great in practice as it is on paper. All possible match-ups are awesome here. I think the thing I love most about Tenryu v Kobashi in 2005 is that, for one of the only times in his career, Tenryu comes up against a shitkicker that will not only refuse to put up with him, but refuse to put up with him and then beat him into the ground in response...and Tenryu can't do a thing about it. He will hurl chops and try his best to hang, but he's an old man now. Defiance can only get you so far. Kobashi has no kneecaps and is borderline crippled (as opposed to now, where he's completely crippled), but he's still Kobashi at this point in his career, and any time he's in there with Tenryu he's GRUMPY Kobashi. Which is really the best Kobashi. Tenryu half hangs out the ropes and tells the ref' to get Kobashi away from him, then he full on Eddie Guerrero style begs off and scoots over to tag in Akiyama. That is literally the only time I've ever seen Tenryu stooging, and obviously I popped huge. This match came a couple months after Kobashi and Sasaki had their forty minute chop battle in the Dome, so Tenryu and Kobashi take a shot at re-enacting it here. Extended chop/strike battles are super goofy most of the time and are played out beyond belief at this point, but when two guys like Tenryu and Kobashi are doing it, it feels like it actually MEANS something. And this was a great chop battle. Tenryu makes amazing "why am I even taking part in this?" expressions as Kobashi chops him to ribbons, so Tenryu just dropkicks him in whatever's left of his knee, which is a great way to beat Kobashi in a strike battle. Taue was fucking amazing in this, and it might be my favourite Taue performance of the decade. He has even less patience for Tenryu's shit than Kobashi, and the first thing he does upon entry is sprint (or quickly jog) over and boot him in the head. At one point he DDTs Akiyama on the ramp and he sells the damage to his own head, which was an awesome little touch that the crowd picked up on as well (this crowd fucking loved them some Taue, btw). Stretch run has the crowd rocking like crazy, and the finish feels like a fucking finish. This really has Dream Match written all over it, and it absolutely delivered in spades.


Complete & Accurate Tenryu

Monday, 30 September 2013

Toshiaki Kawada v Naoya Ogawa (Zero-One, 12/14/03)

Kawada is so great at these violent hatefests, and this is one of the best violent hatefests of the decade. The feeling out at the start is really cool with both guys trying to scramble away as soon as there's any sense of danger. They get to the smashing the shit out of each other right from the start as well, so the feeling out process in this is more brutal than most matches, period. Bit where they're in the corner and Kawada is throwing palms, but that leaves him exposed to a straight right to the chin and his sell of it is off the charts amazing. Kawada is just going after Ogawa like a fiend at a few points, and there's a bit where Ogawa is on the deck so Kawada full force jumps on his face. Ogawa goes for the STO, but Kawada is close to the ropes and manages to block it, then he starts kneeing Ogawa in the thigh to get free, which was pretty great. He goes after that leg the rest of the match, and really, you watch Ogawa limping around and you think, "Yeah, I can totally buy him not being able to stand after the shit Kawada's thrown his way." Some of the leg work is just brutal. Kawada jumping on Ogawa's face was nasty enough, but the way he jumps right on his kneecap looks even more disgusting. Match goes to a double countout after Ogawa hits an STO on the floor, so Kawada gets on the mic and wants a restart. And post-restart they pick up where they left off. Kawada is probably even more feral going after the knee, in fact. As far as double KO finishes go, I'm drawing a blank on any that are as believable as this one. Because maaaaaan do they hit each other hard. This was great.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

You Will Watch Shinya Hashimoto and you WILL Like It

Shinya Hashimoto & Takashi Iizuka v Naoya Ogawa & Kazunari Murakami (New Japan, 1/4/00)

Awesome, wild, chaotic spectacle. I know the Hash/Ogawa feud is generally considered to be a colossal fuck up, but holy shit did the crowd lose their mind for every interaction they had together. They're completely nuclear for this whole thing, and a big Dome crowd like that will always put a smile on my face. Even from the intros this feels huge. Match winds up getting thrown out after a few minutes because it's basically turned into a full blown riot, so Inoki gets in the ring wearing a white tracksuit and wielding a kendo stick (I think). He gets on the mic and hell if I know what he says but I'll assume it's something along the lines of "THE SHOW MUST GO FUCKING ON." And so it does. Everything in this is brutally stiff. I don't think Murakami ever properly learned how to throw a worked strike, but here he's just full force cracking Iizuka in the face with punches and knees like a reckless headcase. Hashimoto is utterly spectacular in this. After the restart he tags in for the first time, but Marakami continues fighting with Iizuka. He has the mount on Iizuka and isn't really paying attention to Hash. Maybe he doesn't care that Hash is the legal man. Hash kind of stands there at first, like a school teacher waiting for the kids at the back to be quiet. Then he loses patience and fucking smashes Murakami in the spleen. Crowd reaction to him telling Ogawa to get in the ring is amazing, and really, this match is a perfect example of why Hash is so great. His energy is just off the charts. It's impossible not to get invested in what he's doing, and his presence alone turns something that'd already be big into something that feels truly momentous. The Hash/Ogawa exchanges are what you want them to be, and Hash winning strike exchanges really feels like the moment in a movie where the hero is able to start cracking the Big Bad's armour. The crowd start believing as well, and the louder they get the more fired up Hash gets. Incredible moment where he rips off his boxing glove and starts laying into Ogawa with overhand chops. Incredible moment #2 when he can't be bothered with rope breaks and just headbutts Ogawa in the cheek. Honestly, it cannot be stresses enough how unbelievably fucking boss Shinya Hashimoto is in this match. Finish is totally sick as well. Hash is on the floor trying to snap Ogawa's arm (after Ogawa runs through folks with killer STOs), while in the ring it looks like Murakami is having his way with Iizuka. Iizuka has heart and has the entire Dome crowd behind him, but Murakami is a stone cold fucking psychopath and seems literally incapable of doing anything that doesn't hurt you. He takes Iizuka down and starts unloading fists, but Iizuka manages to escape and lock in a disgusting rear naked choke for the stoppage. Crowd goes utterly batshit insane, the ring fills up with people in tracksuits, and then Hashimoto tries to get at Ogawa some more. This was several thousand levels of great.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Hashimoto! Fujiwara! Ikeda and Ogawa! SCOTT NORTON!

Shinya Hashimoto & Yoshiaki Fujiwara v Daisuke Ikeda & Takashi Sugiura (Zero-One, 9/15/01)

This was pretty badass. Everybody got to do at least a little and they all looked good because of it, although there wasn't as much Ikeda kicking lumps out of people as one might hope for. His exchanges with Fujiwara were brief, but they were great. Ikeda doesn't care if Fujiwara's ninety years old and roundhouse kicks him in the temple and blatantly chokes him. Fujiwara responds by throwing his headbutts and choking him back, and you get the sense a singles match would end up being a ton of fun at the very least. Fujiwara was pretty awesome in this, actually. We already know he's timeless, but now and again there'll be a match where by all rights he should be broken down like crazy yet still does something that defies the logic of ageing. In this, Sugiura - who has a legit amateur background - shoots in for a takedown, and as Fujiwara sprawls away he somehow manages to hook an armbar with his legs and basically nail Sugiura to the mat. We've all seen Kurt Angle matches where the Olympian is getting out-wrestled on the mat. This wasn't Kurt Angle being schooled by Shane McMahon. It didn't look like a pre-planned spot. It came across as one guy going for a quick takedown and a guy twice his age countering it in spectacular fashion. And really, is there a better "flash counter" guy in wrestling history than Fujiwara? Hashimoto was such a killer here, too. There's a bit early on where Sugiura takes him to the mat and reigns down elbows and forearms, and when they get back to their feet you can almost see "Right...that won't happen again" written across Hash's face. Sure enough Sugiura tries to take him down again and Hash just drills him in the shoulder with a kick. Three of the guys in this match are in my top 10 favourite Japanese wrestlers ever, Sugiura holds his own, and this was a nice way to spent twelve minutes. 


Shinya Hashimoto & Naoya Ogawa v Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Scott Norton (New Japan, 5/2/02)

So, my hopes for this weren't sky high. I don't like Tenzan and I wasn't sure how much Norton had left in the tank at this stage in his career. Hashimoto is fucking Hashimoto though, and Ogawa is always good for bringing the heat, so if nothing else I figured the crowd would be up for it. Well fuck all that because this was AWESOME. And the Dome crowd is most definitely up for it. Hash and Ogawa are INVADING and I love invading in my pro-wrestling. Ogawa especially has this dangerous aura about him, like he just does not give a fuck about who he has to go through. Match is also stiffer'n crap which plays right into his wheelhouse. Even Tenzan ramps up the stiffness, and every headbutt he throws at Hashimoto's stomach looks like it was designed to crack ribs. Hash is just kicking folks right in the lungs and it is brutal and beautiful at the same time. Norton is like the most imposing bouncer you've ever seen. It's like he bounces at the school that trains people how to bounce at the roughest pissholes on earth. He will literally eat you. He and Hash always had great chemistry together, and they smash each other to bits in this, which is exactly what YOU are looking for. I mean, Hash is just laying into him with vicious overhands and Norton is firing back with NASTY chops. Like, Tenryu would even wince at these. Eventually Norton goes FIP and Hash and Ogawa tee right off on his shoulder, and Norton is really great at making his comebacks while selling the injury. Crowd goes ballistic for all of it, too. Hash and Ogawa's take on Total Elimination is abso-fuckin-lutely incredible, btw. The first one on Tenzan is heavy rewind material -- it honestly looked as perfect as a leg sweep/STO double team possibly could. Then the German suplex/STO combo at the end. That was just...holy smokes. How did it not kill Norton? Seriously. This was Hashimoto's last ever match in New Japan, and it was a fitting way for one of the best guys in that promotion's history to go out. But really, how did Scott Norton survive that? I just...fuck, man.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Tenryu & Anjoh Lie in Wait. They Hunt Their Prey

Genichiro Tenryu & Yoji Anjoh v Taiyo Kea & Johnny(???) Smith (All Japan, 7/14/01) - FUN

Alright, cards on the table, I don't know who this Smith fella is. Couldn't tell you why I thought his first name was Johnny. Don't know what his first name really is though, so for now he's called Johnny. Anybody knows his actual name, give me a shout or something. Anyways, I've said before that Tenryu v Anjoh is basically a dream match for me, and well, Tenryu tagging with Anjoh is basically a dream tag team. The possibilities for sheer dickheaded behaviour are endless. This is JIP about halfway in, and that kind of annoys me like most clipped wrestling does, but we come in right at the point where the ref' decides he's had enough of Anjoh punching Johnny (or whoever) in the face. Anjoh makes great Anjoh pouty faces because he's being told off, so he tags in Tenryu. And OF COURSE the first thing Tenryu does upon entry is punch Smith in the face. Crowd actually start booing Wada for getting on Tenryu's case. Tenryu actually punches Smith in the face a whole lot in this, and every punch looks spectacular. Smith going "fuck it" and punching him right back is my favourite Johnny (maybe) Smith moment. Smith starts to reel off a decent string of offence and nearfalls and the crowd are way behind him by the end. Shit, they even boo Tenryu for breaking up a pinfall! Anjoh winning with a not particularly forceful Alabama Slam was a bit out of nowhere, but otherwise this was fun stuff.


Complete & Accurate Tenryu

Complete & Accurate Anjoh

Monday, 23 September 2013

You that Never Done Nothin' but Build to Destroy, You Play with Tenryu's World Like it's Your Little Toy

Genichiro Tenryu & Shiro Koshinaka v Kensuke Sasaki & Kenzo Suzuki (New Japan, 2/4/00) - FUN

Suzuki has been wrestling for about two years at this point. So you can probably guess how this goes. If your guess was, "Tenryu doesn't beat on Kenzo Suzuki" then you're dead fucking wrong. Because Tenryu beats on Kenzo Suzuki. Match only goes about eight minutes, but it's fun for what we get. Sasaki throws hella nasty chops and he hits Tenryu so hard with a lariat that Tenryu does the awesome "oh Christ, I think I'm having a stroke" sell (he never had the dribble running down his chin this time, though. That was unfortunate). Tenryu also throws hella nasty chops and Suzuki has this "why did I even bother?" look after a few minutes. Tenryu must be to Japanese rookies what Finlay is to American rookies (and probably British rookies, once upon a time). That leads to Suzuki steamrolling Tenryu with a "fuck it, I've had enough of this" spear ala Dustin steamrolling Vader in the Clash of the Champions match from '94. This wasn't as good as that, because the Dustin/Vader spot is one of the best spots ever, but it was in the same vein at least. Koshinaka is actually younger than Tenryu, but every time I see him post-'96 or so I just see him as an old dude of like a hundred and four years old. Maybe it's the hair. Hundred and four year old Koshinaka is exponentially more fun than young 1980s Koshinaka and I don't know how many times I've said that since I started this blog but I'll be fucked if it isn't as true as ever. He jabs Suzuki in the cheek with his hip bone a bunch and, you know, that probably isn't pleasant.


Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara v Koki Kitahara & Shinichi Nakano (SWS, 2/14/92) - SKIPPABLE

I was watching this and trying to think of things in pro-wrestling that'd suck more than being chopped by Tenryu. Kitahara's purple chest suggests the answer is "not much." This was alright, but there wasn't enough Tenryu GOATing it for it to be much more. He gave Koki and Nakano a ton, actually. Kitahara is someone I like a lot as he's a chunky wee fella that'll stiff you with kicks and has a nasty mean streak in him. He stiffs Tenryu with kicks and slaps him really hard across the ear in this, which I dug. Hara actually seemed more pissed off at the world than Tenryu did here, which kind of surprised me. Like, if someone gets chippy and starts slapping Tenryu, usually it's Tenryu that'll go on to maul them. This time it was Hara that pulled a guy out to the floor and started chucking furniture. Koki somehow manages to injure his own leg by doing a wheel kick, and that becomes the focus in the second half of the match. Tenryu just kicking him in the kneecap was a pretty great dickheaded cheapshot. Tenryu doesn't even hang around to get his hand raised after the match. He literally gets up and heads to the back, no celebration, no acknowledgement of anything. Maybe he had GTA V on pause.


Complete & Accurate Tenryu

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Rey's in Boeing Jets, Global Express, Out the Country but the Blueberry Still Connects

Rey Mysterio v Chavo Guerrero (Great American Bash, 6/27/04)

This is the best Cruiserweight Title match in WWE history, right? Going a step further, after having seen it about six times in the last handful of years, at this point I'd probably go to bat for it as a top ten WWE match of the 00s, period. Rey/Chavo is a really great match-up. Their No Way Out match from earlier in '04 was pretty awesome, their exchanges in tags are always really good, and the Greed match might be the best match WCW had in the 00s (not really a high bar, but it still fucking ruled). Chavo is a great opponent for Rey; one of his best, in fact. Rey is a great opponent for Chavo and I can't think of anybody else coming within a million miles of him in that respect. Point is, they match-up exceptionally and they always have cracking matches. This starts out with some neat sequences, and everything looks sharp and crisp. Rey then takes over and starts working over Chavo's arm, which is cool because you don't really get to see Rey working over a body part very often. He's good at it, which should shock nobody. Match hits another gear when Chavo takes over, though. Rey's up top and Chavo dropkicks him off, and Rey takes a nasty looking bump onto the apron where his leg gets bumped. He comes up selling the knee, and from that point on Chavo goes right for it. It's a great workover from Chavo. He stomps the leg when Rey's down, wraps it around the ring post, busts out a stretch muffler (instant hit in my book), and puts on a half crab where Rey's body is contorted in like five places (and Chavo yanks at the mask for leverage, which is right up there with someone busting out a stretch muffler in my estimation). Rey's sell job is off the charts. Really, this might be the best sell job of his career. He crumples in a heap when Chavo whips him into the turnbuckle, never springboards without impunity (as in, he's visibly favouring the leg when jumping off the ropes and always comes up selling afterwards), and does the awesome "limping run" when running the ropes. And he doesn't do the KENTA/CIMA shit where he'll be selling the leg like crazy one second then running around a million miles a minute the next as if nothing ever happened. He strikes a perfect balance with his selling. He sells the leg most of all when Chavo's actively working it over (being unable to put any weight on it), then when he's able to create some breathing room and sneak in some offence of his own he tones it down a bit (being able to stand, but not able to run properly). Towards the end he's tied up in a tree of woe and Chavo charges from across the ring, but Rey moves and Chavo goes shoulder-first into the ringpost. And then Chavo starts with the awesome selling of the shoulder (which is a cool extension of Rey's early arm work). By the end the crowd are losing it for a fucking half crab, and when was the last time a WWE crowd bought a half crab as a legit nearfall (especially a crowd that had been sitting on their hands most of the night)? Finish plays off Chavo's bad shoulder, and I really have nothing bad to say about this match at all.


Rey Project