Friday, 27 February 2015

Hansen v Kobashi - One Last Time

Stan Hansen v Kenta Kobashi (All Japan, 9/5/96)

You know this was fucking awesome. Feels like it's been a while since I last watched a Hansen match. He's the still the best ever. He's pretty broken down here, but it really makes for the story of the one-time baddest redneck walking trying to take back the crown from the new guy on top. Hansen was The Man back when Kobashi was scrubbing Baba's underpants. He's no longer the same Terminator in the Cowboy Hat (that was a line from Childs on PWO, but it's too good not to steal), but this'll probably be his last chance, so there's no way he's not going down throwing hand grenades. What's so great about this match-up is that you can trace its progression from at least '93 (I haven't seen the '92 Carnival match in forever and I don't think I've ever actually seen the '90 and '91 matches, but I don't doubt you could trace it back even that far). In '93 Hansen was still higher up the food chain, but Kobashi was nipping at his heels and Hansen needed to uncork the nastiest Western Lariat in history just to beat him in July. In '94 Hansen was a little older, a little more banged up, and Kobashi was only picking up more steam. When Kobashi finally got his win, it felt like he would only continue to ascend while time would just keep chipping away at Hansen. Now two years down the line Kobashi is the champ. He's where Hansen used to be. So Hansen says fuck it and does the only thing he knows, and that's fight like a total bastard. There are a few points in the first half where you wonder if Kobashi has taken Hansen too lightly. He'll start to gain some momentum, then Hansen will potato him in the jaw and shut him down (and then Tenryu kick him in the eye). Eventually Kobashi gets fed up with that and throws punches to the ribs, and Hansen finally starts looking like the near-50 year old man he is. Hansen responding with his crazy reckless redneck tope fucking ruled, as did his powerbomb on the exposed concrete, which is an awesome staple of Hansen/Kobashi matches; kind of like how Rey and Eddie would always work in a variation of that springboard backflip DDT. Like the '94 match this goes from great to super great once Hansen almost breaks a body part. In '94 he got bounced off the apron and cracked his ribs off the guardrail. This time he runs along the apron and tries to hit the lariat, but Kobashi dives out the way and Hansen smashes the post instead. Hansen's selling from then on out is really awesome. He relies mostly on kicks while his left arm dangles by his side, but now and then Kobashi comes too close so Hansen will throw a right hand to the cheek bone. There was one backhander in particular that looked totally face-cavey. Kobashi obviously works the arm over and as the match progresses he gets more and more surly in his own right. He doesn't resort to throwing potatoes the way Hansen does, but he won't hesitate to kick him in the bad arm, and that leads to the spot of the match. Hansen knows that the only way he can possibly come out of this with the belts is if he hits the lariat. Kobashi has surpassed him and that's really the only weapon that could even things up. It'll hurt Stan, but it'll hurt Kobashi more, so he'll take that bullet. He charges in and Kobashi kicks the arm just as he's about to throw it, but Stan does a 360 on the spot and fucking wastes him on the spin with a right-armed lariat. Crowd lose it in a way where you can tell it was a total left field shot (I never saw it coming, either. And I also popped huge), and Hansen staggers back with hands on knees like that was everything he had left. I think Higuchi might've fucked up the count a little (dude must've been about a hundred a six at this point), but when Kobashi kicks out at the death you can see Hansen just deflate. It was like all those moments in the past where it looked like someone was about to put Hansen away only to fall that tiny bit short, but this time the shoe was on the other foot. Kobashi comes back, Hansen stay belligerent til the end, but there's only so much he can do at this point. Maybe if he'd been able to hit the lariat with the left arm rather than the right it'd be different. But he didn't, and it wasn't. Still, you best believe he walked out with his head held high.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Out Here in the Fields, Tenryu Fights for His Meals

Genichiro Tenryu v Naoki Sano (UWFi, 8/17/96) - GREAT

This was ten minutes of Tenryu and Sano so, you know, obviously it was a blast. Starts out civilized with both guys working hold exchanges, and it's always cool to see Tenryu working quick exchanges like that. The things you normally associate with Tenryu are the hate and contempt and smashing people to bits, but he brings some nice stuff any time he's required to work the mat. Naturally that doesn't last, though. You know where it goes. Tenryu will only play by the rules for so long before letting loose, and eventually he eats one too many leg kicks. He obviously responds by punching and kicking Sano in the face. Sano just continues to frustrate him and cracks him under the jaw with a nasty roundhouse kick, then Tenryu REALLY snaps and just obliterates him with brutal knees and punches in the corner. Tenryu even picks a fight with the ref' in the post-match. Tenryu/Takada should be awesome.

Complete & Accurate Tenryu

Friday, 13 February 2015

Random WWE Network Day #3

Royal Rumble 1992 (WWF Royal Rumble, 1/19/92)

I've been watching a bunch of Rumble matches on the Network recently. Well, most of the other ones have largely been on as background noise until something catches my attention and I end up watching for a while (until something shinier catches my attention), but I sat and actually watched this the whole way. If it isn't the best Rumble ever then it probably has the most memorable performance from someone IN a Rumble. Flair was everywhere in this. He's worked probably a billion broadways by this point in his career, but this one is totally different in that he's literally working twenty nine (well, twenty eight -- DiBiase gets bounced before he comes in) different guys over the course of the hour. He's still doing "his" match, but he does it with everyone, and the most impressive thing is that he just does not stop. He picks fights with everybody, begs off, gets gorilla pressed or backdropped out the corner or Flair Flops or does any other spot you've seen a hundred times, then he finds someone else to play with and he goes again. Regardless of whether or not you actually enjoy what he's doing, it's hard not to be impressed with his engine. It's also cool to see him match up again with guys like Kerry, Piper, Sid, Jake, Valentine, etc. who he has plenty of history with (even if it's never specifically mentioned on commentary), as well as guys like Hogan and Savage on a big stage (I'm assuming he wouldn't have done much of anything with Savage or Hogan before the WWF). Whole match is basically biggest star in NWA history running the gauntlet against the whole WWF, with the first half primarily revolving around Flair and Davey Boy and the second half picking up with all the big names hitting the ring. It's booked pretty awesome in that regard. Heenan was incredible during this. It's been said before, but it's an amazing commentary job; probably one of the best ever. His energy and enthusiasm makes everything feel bigger, like when Hogan or Sid comes out and he sounds petrified at what it might mean for Flair. "No, no, no, no, no, not him!" Flair strikes up a partnership with Barbarian then tries to blindside him. Heenan: "Aw, don't turn on HIM, Ric!" Piper effectively comes to Flair's aid at one point and Heenan apologizes for every time he said Piper wore a skirt. Then Piper goes after Flair thirty seconds later. Heenan: "You creep, Piper! You skirt-wearin' freak!" He really added a ton to the match. Piper ruled in this as well. His two minute spell alone with Flair was probably my favourite part of the match, and I've said it before and I'll say it again -- his eye poke might be the best ever. Loved Jake in this, even if he wasn't in all that long. Any time the buzzer went he'd stop whatever he was doing and look up the ramp to see if it was Savage, then when it finally was he snuck right out the bottom rope and waited until Undertaker got a hold of Savage for him. Savage eliminating himself by jumping over the top to get to Jake is total Randy Savage craziness and why that guy is the perfect hate feud wrestler. Heenan and Monsoon actually do a pretty great job of coming up with an excuse for him being allowed back in, saying you have to physically be thrown out by someone else in order to be eliminated (even though Andre eliminated himself to get away from Damian in '89 and wasn't allowed back in). I guess they must've introduced the Mil Mascaras rule after 1992. Hogan comes across as such a salty bitch at the end. He gets eliminated more or less the same way he dumped out Warrior in '90, but of course he can't take it and throws a hissy fit. Crowd audibly boo him and cheer Sid post-match, and you can't really blame them for it. Sid played the game and Hogan cried about it, so fuck him (gotta love Sid pointing to the 'Hulk Who?' sign in the crowd). Flair's victory promo is honestly one of the most vivid memories of my childhood. The close up of his peroxide blond hair and crooked teeth as Heenan and Perfect woo in the background has stuck with me ever since I first watched the PPV as a kid. And of course, "Y'all better pay the man!"

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Random WWE Network Day #2

Shane Helms & Shannon Moore v Jung Dragons v Jamie Noble & Evan Karagias (WCW Starrcade, 12/17/00)

The difference between WCW and WWF at this point is pretty startling. Even when WCW were on top the WWF always had the production values and such, but by this point it's like...well, they're not TNA level, but the war is well and truly over. This show had just over 6,000 people at it, which is almost a third of what Starrcade drew two years earlier. That's a hell of a drop off, y'all. Even the backstage skits seem bush league, from Buff Bagwell as an obnoxious interviewer to Kronik taking a call from a "client" (they're hired guns/assassins or some shit) while in a steam room. I was actually goona watch this whole show, but nah man, life's too short for a Steiner/Sid main event in 2000 (also, did they really just start up Goldberg's streak again at some point? Did I hear that properly?). Anyways, this match is what you think it is -- total spotfest that has no pretense of being anything else. They do some pretty lunatic stuff, especially early on with Kaz Hayashi who almost dies a couple times (although I'm pretty sure they come about from things that are botched). Winner of this gets a Cruiserweight title shot, so it's a triple tag team match that's really just a money in the bank match, and it doesn't take long for everybody to start chucking everybody else off of stuff. Evan Karagias kinda sucks, but he does a crazy neckbreaker off a ladder and then later on takes one of the nuttiest bumps you'll see in a ladder match. Someone shoves him off the top of a ladder, and I think he's supposed to land hotshot-esque across the top rope, but he overshoots it and lands super awkward on the ropes, like his body is practically horizontal, then bounces all the way out to the floor and hits his head off the foot of a table. There's also a hell of a dive train in here somewhere and it was probably better than anything else on the whole show.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Random WWE Network Day #1

I've basically just been picking out random things and watching them, and that's probably how it'll be for the next while. There's a whole bunch of stuff on this Network that I never knew was on there. 

Hulk Hogan & Dennis Rodman v  Lex Luger & The Giant (WCW Bash at the Beach, 7/13/97)

Say what you want about the ridiculousness of WCW booking, but they knew how to put together this kind of celebrity spectacle (at least in '97). This was about as good as it possibly could've been. Rodman is pretty much hand led through everything, especially by Hogan and Luger, but he's willing and able and looks like he's having a blast. The bit where he armdrags Luger is amazing, from Luger looking absolutely stunned to Hogan and Savage celebrating to the crowd reaction to Dusty on commentary. "Dennis Rodman just armdragged Lex Luger! And he ain't even take his shades awf!" Then he does a leapfrog and knocks down Luger with a shoulderblock and Dusty is amazing again. "Somebody call the law. Somebody call the law!" Rodman also takes more bumps and eats more offence than I remembered. I mean, this isn't as good as Big Show v Mayweather and Rodman isn't as good in this as Mayweather was in that, but I think Rodman takes the bigger bumps (I might watch Show/Mayweather next, actually). Hogan was a lot of fun as well with his shit talking and obnoxiousness. Any time Rodman does something even remotely impressive Hogan is right there to let everyone know about it. Massively fun spectacle, and definitely one of the better matches of its ilk. 

Monday, 2 February 2015

No Way Out 1998

My brother got that WWE Network and gave me his password to use at my leisure. I watched a PPV (over a couple days and nights).

Marc Mero & Goldust v The Headbangers 

This was alright. I fully expected it to be nothing outside of maybe one or two Goldust moments, but it was a bit more than that. Dustin looks hideous with the white make up and lipstick and suspenders. He's doing a Marilyn Manson thing, apparently. JR runs through just about every possible amalgamation of the names Goldust and Marilyn Manson. Calls him Marilyndust, Mansondust, Marilyn Manson Dust, etc. Mero was a pretty entertaining shithead in this. Thrasher gets cut open hardway (I think) so Mero punches the cut and complains about blood on his white wrist tape. He then chokes Thrasher with the wrist tape and goofily shadow boxes to a chorus of booes. Biggest pop of the match obviously came towards the end when Sable came back out wearing less clothes than she was wearing at the start (Mero bounced her before the match and got some nice heat for it). I'll be surprised if any babyface other than Austin gets a bigger pop on this show.

How ridiculous was Sunny? That woman was truly gorgeous. Like, legitimately gorgeous, even as far back as SMW in '93. Sable had the massive cans, but Sunny had the smile and charisma and everything else, and none of it looked plastic. She could probably handle her coke, too.

Taka Michinoku v Pantera

Crowd never gave a shit about this. Barely even popped for the highspots. Which is a shame, because it was pretty nifty and more than just a few dives. Lawler and Brian Christopher are incredible obnoxious shitheels on commentary. Any time Christopher notices the camera on him he makes the most punchable facial expressions imaginable. At one point he calls Taka a slant-eye and he and Lawler just rip into him the whole match, which is probably counterproductive, but then the crowd don't care anyway so I'd rather they did something halfway entertaining. It only added to my own personal enjoyment, at least. So you know, fuck the rest of y'all. Great exchange with Christopher and JR: 
'Taka don't know no English!'
'Sounds like you don't either with those double negatives. "Don't know no English!"'
'What?! Hey, I was the valladicktrian in my class.'
'...I rest my case.' 
Pantera hits an awesome headscissors off the apron and then crushes Taka into the barricade with a tope from the apron where he dives past the inside of the ring post, and that sets up a run of backwork, which included a wild tope con hilo to the lower back of a prone Taka. Taka's comeback came a little too easy, but the Michinoku Driver was at least over. What was the best match this light heavyweight division produced? Is there anything that fucks with the high end WCW cruiserweight stuff? Not things like Eddy/Rey from Halloween Havoc, because there are barely any matches in WWF's history that fuck with that, but like, matches that are at least in the discussion with stuff like Juve/Blitzkrieg from Spring Stampede '99 or Eddy/Jericho from Fall Brawl '97? I remember Taka/Sasuke from the Canadian Stampede In Your House being really good. They had maybe the best junior heavyweight in history on the roster for a minute but I'm not sure he did anything other than be the tubby dude in a group that tried to chop off a pornstar's dick. So maybe I just answered my own question. 

The Quebecers v The Godwins

These are two I would not have thought were still on the roster in 1998. This was not good. Based on the tepid crowd response I'll assume the Godwins are the babyfaces, but neither team really do anything to establish a babyface/heel dynamic. Godwins work over Jacques for a spell to no heat at all, then Pierre gets the tag to no heat at all, then Phinneas gets worked over to no heat at all, then some stuff happens and a team wins, to marginally more heat than none at all. In true Attitude Era fashion the Godwins no longer have slop in their buckets. Instead they just carry around empty buckets and hit people on the head with them. Phinneas also looks straight serial killer.

Jeff Jarrett v Bradshaw

Well this was pretty fun. I couldn't remember Jarrett being back in the WWF at this point and I sure as shit had no recollection of him being part of a Cornette stable with fucking Windham and the Rock 'n' Roll Express (they're collectively called The NWA). Robert Gibson has to be THE ugliest motherfucker to ever have fallen into the 'blowjob' sub-category of babyfaces (Morton at least had the hair). Match is worked like a neat Memphis mid-card match that would've drawn a nice bit of heat fifteen years earlier. Bradshaw is just potatoing the living shit out of everything that moves here -- crowbar forearms and clotheslines, nasty punches to the ear and full force big boots. Did he ever tour Japan? I could imagine him having a real stiff-fest in WAR. Post-match you've got the rest of Cornette's boys starting a gang beating and the Road Warriors coming to the aid of Bradshaw, and I like the idea of a Bradshaw/LOD v Jarrett/RnRs six-man. I like to think it happened somewhere. 

Nation of Domination v Ken Shamrock, Ahmed Johnson, Chainz, Skull & 8 Ball

War of attrition is a great name for a match. It insinuates that some shit is about to go down. I only really like three of the guys in this, and I'll be honest, not that much shit went down, but I'm a huge mark for multi-man tags where the teams have beef and I thought this was actively pretty damn good. I mean, it never broke down into anything crazy (although the main event is an eight-man street fight, so you understandably want to save the nutty stuff for that), but everybody got to stretch out and look at least halfway decent. D-Lo isn't one of the three guys I liked going in, but he impressed me enough that I'm interested in seeing more of him through 2015 eyes. He gets super high on a missed moonsault and hits a frog splash from almost the length of the ring away. He might've been my favourite guy in the match, actually, and he was way better at this point than Henry, who is one of the three guys I like, but wasn't really up to much in 1998. For a guy with the gimmick of being the world's most dangerous man, Shamrock never really came across as being all that dangerous. Maybe that changed some when he turned heel, but if we're talking about mixed martial artists doing pro-wrestling then he had about a quarter the aura of someone like Ogawa (it'd be unfair to even compare him to Lesnar). Ahmed is still pretty over as a babyface here (more so than Shamrock), but I could've sworn he'd turned heel and joined the Nation by now. Maybe that comes later. I have no idea which Harris brother plays FIP. Neither do Ross and Lawler. Whoever it was did a solid enough job, but I put most of that down to D-Lo Brown. After the hot tag it spirals into gang fight territory like you expect in a war of fucking attrition, and we've finally got something that out-popped Sable. It doesn't take a whole lot to make me enjoy a match like this, and so I dug it.

"It's fun to beat someone's ass anywhere in the world, but if ya beat someone's ass in Texas, then ya done something." That was basically Austin's promo. Crowd were all over it, obviously.

Vader v Kane

This wasn't very good. Vader threw Vader soup bones and Kane had a couple moments where he looked spryer than I thought he was, but it was mostly plodding and heatless. Picks up a bit in the last couple minutes after Vader hits the moonsault and absolutely slabbers Kane with a clothesline, but Kane just sits up and no-sells everything, anyway. The Tombstone on Vader is an impressive looking spot, though. And the wrench Kane smashes Vader in the face with post-match has to be gimmicked, because if it wasn't it really would've caved his skull in. 

Steve Austin, Owen Hart, Chainsaw Charlie & Cactus Jack v HHH, New Age Outlaws & Savio Vega (Unsanctioned Street Fight)

Man, this was fucking GREAT and a totally slept on Attitude Era brawl. It's not quite on the level of Austin/Foley from Over the Edge, but I can't think of anything else the WWF produced that year that was better than it (I know that's not a massive bar, but whatever). It starts out as a completely bonkers prison riot with all the plunder you could hope for, then they eventually settle down into a couple FIP spells with Funk and Foley going in peril. Funk in peril ruled because he's a hundred years old and will fearlessly get the shit kicked out of him while flinging wild thin air punches. Road Dogg powerbombs him through two chairs and Funk slithers out the ring like a land mine victim, landing head first on a broken table. Savio brings a roll of barbed wire with him and wraps it around Foley, then he sticks it in his mouth and starts pulling like he's trying to rip off Foley's mandible. Brutal spot. Austin was incredible in this, just wailing on everybody with metal things and doing everything at such a frenetic pace. He has that menacing Hansen aura where you almost expect him to haul off and assault someone at any second. Awesome bit where he's standing on the apron and chucks a garbage can full across the ring off Billy's face. I'd have liked a bit more of a hectic run to the finish after the Austin hot tag, but that's really my only complaint (well, it could've done with gallons of blood as well). Crowd completely lose it for Austin Stunning Chyna post-match. He's not even at the peak of his popularity yet, but there's no doubt he's the guy people are here for. It might've been The House that Hogan Built, but you knew who its new tenant was. 

Fun enough PPV. Pretty sure the WCW PPV that month was Superbrawl and had Page v Benoit, but I don't remember anything else about it. I thought Page/Benoit was great, but I'm not sure I'll think it's better than the street fight. Imagine Michaels was fit to participate? Or even be at ringside to antagonise everybody? Woulda been fucking tremendous. War of attrition was fairly good and so was Taka/Pantera, Jarrett/Bradshaw was fun and nothing on the show was outright offensive (well, the Quebecers tag was kinda puke). 

Saturday, 31 January 2015

CM Punk v Mark Henry (RAW, 4/2/12)

Henry was pretty much God in this. His in-match shit talking is all-time level great and it was spectacular here. "Is that all you got?" "I OWN YOU, BOY. I OWN YOU!" "I ain't tell you to move. YOU MOVE WHEN I TELL YOU TO!" Awesome. Thought he was pretty much the perfect monster in this. He sold with the right amount of vulnerability when he needed to in order to make it look like he could be taken down, but still came across as a total fucking destroyer of worlds. Which is really what you want in a guy like that. I don't think Punk is a terribly good striker in general, but his ratio of good to not good strikes was alright in this. Henry sold every one of them perfectly (seriously, this was like Fujiwara selling shit for Takada or Yamazaki), plus a few looked super stiff and teeth-looseny.Henry's cut-offs were also great. The timing was always spot on, and they all looked like they'd hurt like a bastard, even the one where he just catches Punk coming off the top rope by sort of double clubbing him in the neck. Then he'd follow up with more shit talking. I knew this didn't have a proper finish so I wasn't disappointed when it came, but it's hard not to imagine an extra few minutes and an actual finish not sending it up another level. Henry made the bulldog over the top look killer as well, btw. It was like a guy picked up another guy and threw him away without the other guy cooperating, which probably sounds redundant since that's how its supposed to look, but you'll often get the person receiving it flinging themselves/jumping into it. Punk didn't need to here becauseHenry could fling a couch through a tree house. This is the good TV wrestling.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Tenryu and Anjoh - Rockstars Today Ain't Half as Real

Genichiro Tenryu v Yoji Anjoh (WAR, 7/21/96) - GREAT

This ruled, obviously. It's a lot like the '97 match (which I'd already seen), but even better. It follows the same pattern of Anjoh being a shitweasel and Tenryu being a ticking timebomb. Anjoh is in full on douchebag mode early on, throwing shots and winding Tenryu up then bailing to the floor and making those faces Anjoh will make. The more he does this the more Tenryu will progressively up the violence, from regular chopping to a wild lariat to throat chopping. Then he goes off and murders Anjoh. There's one bit where Anjoh has the mount so Tenryu rabbit punches him in the nose and starts pulling at bits of his face. Every punch Tenryu throws seems to be stiffer and nastier than the one before it. The one where he gets Anjoh in the corner and cracks him in the cheekbone was particularly hideous. It was like, you know Anjoh is a shithead, but does he really deserve that? Finish is also similar to the '97 match where Anjoh kicks out of the powerbomb into an armbar, and people are genuinely believing that Tenryu might go down here. The last lariat Tenryu throws probably loosened Anjoh's bowels. Anjoh takes a cheapshot post-match and unashamedly walks away celebrating like he just won the thing. Then Tenryu grabs a mic and challenges Takada and holy smokes that is gonna fucking rule.

Complete & Accurate Tenryu

Complete & Accurate Anjoh

Monday, 16 June 2014

Virus is Raising Hell, Livin' Down in Texas. Probably Aught to be in Jail from the Stories that He Tells Us

Virus v Titan (CMLL, 1/28/14) - EPIC

Virus title matches are one of my favourite things in current wrestling. We've gotten at least one every year for the last four years, all of them have been him up against a young tecnico, and all have been excellent. Titan isn't amazing on the mat, but he can handle himself well enough and Virus is pretty much a master of taking someone that can handle themselves well enough and hand walking them through a matwork caida. Virus works the leg for a bit in the segunda, and it's all good stuff. At one point he just tackles Titan at the knees and it looked like something Ndamukong Suh would do to a mail man. Titan opts against selling it and makes his comeback fresh as a daisy, which was kinda annoying, but I guess this is still Titan and you can't get everything you'd like. As good as Virus is at leading young guys through matwork caidas, he might be even better at laying out and building a third caida in a title match. I mean, you won't confuse a 2014 CMLL title match with a 1990 CMLL title match, but Virus title matches tend to have touches of what made those 1990 matches so great, while tailoring them to fit into the modern day formula. You're guaranteed to get at least one insane spot and/or bump in a Virus title match, too. This time Virus dropkicks Titan off the ropes and Titan takes a nasty spill on the apron, then Virus fucking crushes him dead with a somersault plancha to the floor (with an awesome camera angle to make it look even better). Virus just had his second big title match of 2014 with Fuego yesterday. If it's anything less than good I'll be stunned.

Complete & Accurate Virus

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Ambrose v Wyatt!

Dean Ambrose v Bray Wyatt (Smackdown!, 6/13/14)

So Ambrose is pretty much 2009 Christian at this point. Every week on TV since the turn (and before that) he's been awesome. This was like one of those Christian matches where he sells nerve damage in his elbow or something, but I think I like Ambrose even more just because he injects so much character into it. He starts out all frantic like he usually does, grinding his wrist across Bray's eyes, using all of his limbs in really awkward ways to inflict punishment. Bray then catches him off a plancha and does his Vader-ish chokeslam throwing Ambrose into the ring apron shoulder first. Ambrose's sell of the shoulder is awesome from then on out. He kind of throws his shoulder into the mat and turnbuckles at one point like he's trying to knock it back into place, and there's a great bit where Bray has him in a nerve hold and Ambrose's arm is twitching and quivering like he has no control over it. Re-watching a bunch of ROH from the last decade I got real sick real quick of Nigel McGuinness' rebound lariat, but Ambrose seems to be using it as a regular hope spot now and it looks totally killer. It never looks contrived when he does it, because he's doing it with enough speed and snap that it actually looks like he's hitting it on the rebound. Nigel would just sorta stand a guy in the middle of the ring, half fall through the ropes, bounce back and hit the lariat. Several dozen times a match. It started looking really goofy. Just hit the fucking ropes like normal and stop being a numpty about it. He'd generate more force that way, because at least then he wouldn't have to stagger his stride and awkwardly untangle himself from the ropes. None of that applies to Ambrose's version. I don't remember what Bray did here to send him into the ropes in the first place, but Dean sold it like something that would actually send you through the ropes, not just into them. There was a reason he hit the lariat that way, and it looked like something that made sense at that point in time, not just something that's been shoehorned in because it's a part of his moveset (I'll probably be bitching about Ambrose using the rebound lariat in six month's time, but for now I'm a fan). I liked Bray a bunch in this as well. He works the arm in neat ways and I love his cross body blocks. He did one where he was on the floor and squashed Ambrose's arm into the ring post, and the one he usually does where he really launches himself at a guy looked as good as I've ever seen it. It looks half like a cross body and half like a running clothesline, and it always looks badass. I'm leaning more towards saying Ambrose is the best worker in the world right now every time I see him.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Some 2014 CMLL (Panther & Sons)

Blue Panther, Black Panther & Cachorro v Felino, Puma & Tiger (CMLL, 3/24/14)

Heck of a trios sprint. Everybody looked really good here, but I was especially impressed with Panther's kids. Well, maybe I was especially impressed with Felino, since the last time I saw him all he did was wipe his armpit sweat in guys' faces, so I never knew he still had this in him even if I knew he did at one point (which I assumed had long passed us by). Cachorro and Black Panther were pulling out a bunch of nifty looking shit, though. Actually, everybody got to stretch out on the mat here, and the first caida was one of the better matwork caidas I've seen this year. Everything was turned up a notch and done at a much quicker pace than normal, and the Blue Panther/Tiger exchange was awesome. Felino and the Casas kids start getting chippy as the match goes on, and at one point they all threaten to walk out because the Panthers won't give them a handshake. Great bit where Tiger has Puma on his shoulders and Puma leans all the way back, only being held up there by Tiger keeping hold of his shins, then Tiger swings him forward and Puma splats down with a splash on Cachorro. Felino making a last ditch attempt to block Cachorro's tope was a great little touch, but the tope sending Puma twelve miles up the aisle was even better (camera man is standing in the aisle way and has to back pedal so as not to be wiped out by him, and we actually see this from his camera, which looked cool as shit). This might be the best CMLL trios from this year that I've watched so far.

Cachorro v Barbaro Cavernario (CMLL, 4/18/14)

I said you'd struggle to find a better sub-ten minute match this year than Hechicero/Cavernario, but I think this went and topped it. The Hechicero match had the bigger moments and nuttier big bump (barely), but this got a couple extra minutes to develop things a bit more. Cavernario was really great here -- he basically wrestles like how I'd imagine Captain Caveman would (he has a caveman gimmick), all loud and full steam ahead. I love his take on simple things like kneedrops, where he gets a ton of height and then comes crashing down with both knees across your chest. Great spot where he's on the apron and Cachorro is round the corner on the floor, so Cavernario hits a tope past the  inside of the ring post. There's an amazing sequence that starts with Cavernario taking a Buddy Rose bump through the ropes and Cachorro following up by crushing him with a fucking scud missile tope. He then tries another one, but Cavernario sidesteps it and Cachorro flies head first into the barricade. Cavernario then hits his splash from the top rope to the floor, and this thing is just ridiculous looking. Cachorro must've been shitting ribs for a week. Cachorro hanging in there long enough to pick his moment and catch Cavernario with a flash Fujiwara armbar is a finish his old man would've been proud of. This ruled.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Some 1996 Yearbook

Have you not sent goodhelmet money for these things yet? Why not?

Sabu v Rob Van Dam (ECW, 6/22/96)

RVD/Sabu matches are like those Beyond Wrestling matches to me. I know what I'm getting with Beyond Wrestling -- guys running through a bunch of spots from word one, trying to come up with new and cool stuff with no real semblance of "storytelling" or whatever. It's the definition of popcorn. There's no pretence of anything else. They're up front about what they are, and taking it at face value there are plenty of kicks to be gotten out of it. RVD/Sabu matches are wild spotfests where they do a bunch of crazy shit, usually involving tables and chairs, and that's about as far as it goes. If you're looking for anything else, look elsewhere, because you won't find it in an RVD/Sabu match. They don't try and present it as something that it's not. And taking it at face value, I get plenty of kicks out of RVD/Sabu matches. In some respects this might be the craziest of all their matches, because the ropes break after like a minute, and since most of what they do requires fully functioning ring ropes, the possibility of disaster increases tenfold. Fuck man, Sabu almost kills himself on average three times a match as is. So I was stunned at how much of what they were doing came off looking like it hit cleanly. And some of the shit they did was truly unbelievable. Sabu lays Van Dam on a table that's resting between the apron and barrier, then sets up a chair in the ring, which is to be used as a launchpad. He hits one set of ropes and launches off the chair onto the other set of ropes, but Van Dam's gotten up off the table and now he's standing in the crowd, so Sabu just dives OVER the table and lands on Van Dam and the fans. He then sets him up on the table again, does the same launchpad off the chair onto the rope, but Van Dam's gotten up again and now he's standing on the Sabu just jumps down and hits an insane DDT through the table. One bit where Van Dam monkey flips Sabu out of the corner onto a chair, but the chair hasn't been placed flat down properly and there's a leg sticking up, and Sabu almost gets his prostate examined. There's really only one botch to speak of, and it was totally hilarious and awesome in its own right (Sabu launchpads off the chair and crotches himself on the top rope as if he actually meant to do it). I also love how in Sabu matches you'll get these great unintentional "little things" moments, usually because he's legit hurt himself. This time I think he almost breaks his fingers and tries to use his own wrist tape to band them together, and it's totally something I could imagine Ambrose doing nowadays (only Ambrose probably wouldn't have broken his own fingers for real). Post-match Sabu botches getting carried out on a stretcher. 

Nobuhiko Takada & Masahito Kakihara v Tatsumi Fujinami & Yoshiaki Fujiwara (UWFi, 6/24/96)

Fujiwara was completely amazing in this; like best in the world level good. This had a really fun dynamic with the younger kickpad-wearing strikers up against the tougher-than-shoe-leather vets that've been around since before kickpads were even a thing. Starts out pretty amicably with both teams kinda feeling each other out. Fujinami, Fujiwara and Takada know each other like the backs of their hands and do some of their old dance moves, finding their rhythm again after however many years. Kakihara is younger and has a point to prove though, so he throws shots early and often. None of them cause any real trouble, but he's eager. Then he catches Fujiwara in the eye with a nasty axe kick and Fujiwara goes buck fucking wild. Rest of the match is really about Fujiwara putting a beating on him because of that one kick. He immediately takes him down and throws pot shots to the back of the head, he takes a bunch of cheapshots (bit where he tags in Fujinami and throws a punch to the gut before getting out), chokes him on the ropes, etc. Now and again a shit eating grin will break on his face. Fujiwara and Takada are grappling near the Kakihara corner, and when Takada tags him in Fujiwara jumps on him before he even has a chance to properly step through the ropes. Finish is great. Kakihara's shots start troubling Fujiwara and he even scores a few knock downs. Fujiwara looks like he's actually struggling. Kakihara gets a bit overzealous and goes for a rolling kick, which Fujiwara easily dodges. Fujiwara realises this is his opening and mockingly tells Kakihara to get up and go again. Kakihara is young and foolish enough to fall for it, and this time Fujiwara is ready to pounce straight away. Fujiwara is the best ever at those flash finishes, and this one ruled. Great match.

Negro Casas, Felino & Satanico v El Dandy, Lizmark & Silver King (CMLL, 6/28/96)

I'm not sure this one of the real top tier trios of the year, but Casas was such an amazing douchebag in it that I loved it anyway. He and Dandy feel like the main match-up here. Every exchange is at least niggly, and Dandy is in no mood at all for Casas' horseshit. Casas just whinges and bitches about everything and Dandy gets more and more annoyed. He wants to wrestle, but if Casas keeps up the stupidity he has no problem throwing punches instead. There's only so much a guy can take, you know? They have this awesome exchange in the segunda where Dandy puts his dukes up for a fight, and Casas reluctantly does the same. He catches Dandy with a left hook that decks him (Dandy's KO sell was phenomenal), and now he's feeling a little more confident about throwing fists. Dandy gets back up and is ready for more, but Casas catches him with another left hook and Dandy is on the canvas again. Now Casas is practically dancing. This isn't nearly as bad as he thought it was going to be; in fact he's winning, so it's all good fun. He happily accepts a third round...except this time Dandy has him scouted, ducks the left hook and cracks him with one of his own, and Casas is affronted. The rudos eventually decide to rough it up and there's a close up of him gnawing on Dandy's shoulder in the corner (which fucking ruled). His preening and posturing is off the charts at this point, just revelling in self-satisfaction. Satanico is even surlier than usual here and matches up primarily with Lizmark, and it's all really good. They have a longish in-ring exchange in the third caida while the other four guys are brawling on the floor, like they have their own separate business to finish first. Dive train down the stretch is great and culminates with Dandy's lunatic no hands dive over the top (he almost spikes himself on his head). Going through this yearbook I've been thinking Dandy and Casas have looked like two of the best wrestlers in the world in '96. This does nothing to make me think otherwise. They both might be top 5 by year's end.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

More Shield (kinda)

The Shield & John Cena v The Wyatt Family (RAW, 6/9/14)

Jesus Christ is Dean Ambrose fucking great at the pro-wrestling right now or what? This wasn't up there with the real high end Shield/Wyatts stuff (well, I guess it's not REALLY Shield/Wyatts anyway), but at this point you can stick any sort of combination of these guys in the ring together and I'll be all over it. But fuck all that because Dean Ambrose. His initial burst of offence was awesome, darting around the ring hitting everything with a beard, doing a running flip senton on Rowan in the corner, facepalming Harper off the apron then wiping him out with a plancha; basically just picking fights with anybody not in his team. Then his FIP spell is even better. He has to be the best "little things" wrestler in the world right now. I mean, you'd think it'd be hard to keep coming up with interesting ways to get out of a head vice or a neck crank, but not for Ambrose. This time he bends Rowan's fingers to release the pressure initially, then grabs hold of the beard and starts headbutting him in the FACE. He has this hyperactive, coke-fuelled terminator vibe where you think someone is actually gonna have to kill him to keep him down. Even when he gets back up on his side of the apron after tagging out he looks like he's been hung, drawn and quartered. He also takes Harper's big boot squarely in the chin, every single time without fail. I'm digging how AWA-ish a lot of these tags are with the double heat segments. I've noticed it a bunch now, but I'm not sure when it actually started. Have they been doing it for a while? Cena as FIP is pretty much a can't fail prospect at worst, and he never topped Ambrose, but he gave it a shot all the same. Reigns is such a great hot tag at this point. He's kind of like a less manic Ambrose the way he sprints around and takes on everything in sight, except where Ambrose's offence looks frantic and scrappy, Reigns' looks like an Expendable's wet dream. He comes in and hits his awesome leaping clothesline, the superman punch (which Bray sells like he got clipped by a speeding truck's wing mirror), and his floor-to-apron dropkick on both sides of the ring. And for a move that I was thoroughly tired of seeing in WWE, the guy has a fuuuucking killer spear. It might not be the same without Rollins, but I'd be all for seeing two thirds of The Shield continuing to do their thing, because it's just about the most fun thing in wrestling right now.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

I Will Not Finish the 80s Lucha Set Before the World Cup

There's no way it's happening. But I'm still chipping away at it.

Satanico v Gran Cochisse (9/14/84)

In terms of classic lucha title matches I've never loved this as a personal favourite the way I do with Dandy/Casas, Damiancito/Cicloncito or Cota/Rocca (which is a new favourite having only seen it for the first time last year), but it's still an excellent match. The whole match kind of feels like a struggle between two guys that are at the very top of their game on the night, and there's a fair bit of parity with a few stand-offs and stalemates scattered throughout. The early matwork is great, but doesn't last very long. Satanico is a guy that makes everything feel like it's fought for. This is probably one of the best examples of a lucha title match where everything looks like it takes every bit of strength and energy to pull off, especially the longer it goes, and it leads to some of the best milking of holds and escapes I've ever seen. Both guys looks utterly spent in the tercera and it really feels like a fitting climax to such a match. There are a ton of great little bits all the way through - Satanico's escape out of the Gory Special, Cochisse turning down the handshake by kneeing  Satanico in the kidneys, the bit where they're on all fours staring each other out while folk in the crowd "woof," Satanico's neck selling in the tercera, a thousand other things - but there's no point going through all of them because then it's getting into play-by-pay territory. This is just a hell of a match. Probably top 10.

Sangre Chicana v MS-1 (Hair v Hair) (9/21/84)

This isn't their '83 match. That was a Match of Forever Candidate, while this is sort of abbreviated and somehow doesn't have any blood. If you expect something along the lines of the '83 match you'll be disappointed. That said, this is still really fucking good. I was actually surprised at how short it was. Checking how much time had passed after the second caida I was pretty stunned that it was sitting at nine minutes or so, because they manage to make it feel like they've been a war. Chicana has to seriously be considered in any discussion about greatest brawlers in wrestling history at this point. Same goes for greatest punchers. MS-1 jumps him at the bell here like he did the previous year, but this time Chicana actually makes a comeback in the first fall, and he does it with maybe the best punch I've ever seen thrown by a pro-wrestler. MS-1 spends a few minutes trying to choke him to death in the segunda, and this is some of the most violent and graphic looking choking I've seen. It was like Liev Schreiber in the Manchurian Candidate. Third fall is shorter than the first two, but you get a Chicana bullet tope and MS-1 launching himself into the sixth row like a fucking headcase, so how much can you really complain? You want every second of these guys in the ring together.

Villano III v Perro Aguayo (10/7/84)

I think this is the first time I've seen Perro in a title match setting. By the end I was feeling like he's still more suited to straight up bleeding and brawling, but I liked this a bunch, even if it did start getting a bit long in the tooth in the tercera. Early matwork is really cool, and Perro is better on the mat than I figured. Matwork is curbed when Villano suckers him in for a lock-up and dropkicks him flush in the teeth, which looked killer. Perro must do fifteen sentons in this, and they all look like they'd knock the stuffing out of you, but it maybe got a little repetitive the longer it went. His top rope double stomp to win the primera looked fucking sick, though. He tries it again in the tercera and misses, and Villano starts dropkicking both his knees. It doesn't really go anywhere, but it was a cool touch. The back and forth finishing run was good, but they dragged it on a bit and started feeling like a modern day junior heavyweight match where you kinda wish they'd just hurry up and end it already. Then we get a cop out double pin. Go figure. Still, I thought this was real good and it's probably gonna land in my top half.

El Dandy, Franco Colombo & Panico v Javier Cruz, Impacto & Solar II (10/48)

There's a clip job in here somewhere because we only get two falls (and I don't mean one team wins two straight), but I thought this was really good. This is the first Dandy match on the set and he looked great. About thirty seconds in he takes a crazy Randy Savage bump over the top and pretty much never looked back. There's a lot of super fun rudo miscommunication and stooging early with the tecnicos running them in circles. I've never seen Panico before, but he was a fun stooge here. At one point he's walking around the floor, isn't looking where he's going and basically posts himself, which was goofy, but I dug it. Then the rudos snap and make it a gang war, and Dandy is awesome at running around throwing amazing punches. He hits two insane sentons off the top rope where he kind of shifts his body sideways, so instead of landing on the flat of his back he's basically driving his hip bone into their chest. At a few points one of the tecnicos will come in and look to the crowd like "should I punch him?", but the rudos never leave them standing long enough to hear the answer, so eventually they drop that shit and just punch them like they should've all along. Last few minutes are pretty great, and Cruz hitting an electric chair drop off the middle rope was fucking lunacy. Dandy sells it post-match like he might actually be dead. This all sort of felt like it was building to the Dandy/Cruz hair match, and it got me excited about re-watching it for the first time in about six years.

Satanico v Super Astro (10/26/84)

Man, I thought this was fucking great. Satanico is on the short-list for best brawlers in wrestling history, so I knew what to expect from him here, but I thought Astro was really fun as well. He takes a bunch of cool bumps and his leaping headbutts all connect with sternum or cheekbone. For most of the first two falls it's really bully Satanico beating on tubby kid Astro for lunch money. Then when tubby kid Astro doesn't give him lunch money bully Satanico just brutalises him. He's even more vicious in the segunda after dropping the first fall, chewing on Astro's forehead, throwing godly punches, and there's this amazing bit where he's ramming Astro's head into the bottom turnbuckle while Astro lies there like a corpse. Third caida is awesome. Satanico is one of the best "tastes his own blood" wrestlers ever. Astro splits him open and Satanico wipes his hand across his head, looks at the blood on his palm and just launches himself at Astro like he's trying to honest to goodness murder him. They're both on their knees and Satanico cracks him with a punch, so Astro reels back until his upper body is flat on the mat, then springs back up and forward with a headbutt to the chest. I don't remember seeing anybody do that before and it was awesome. Finish is great as well, with Astro's cradle off the rana looking as tight as I've ever seen it. All this needed to really fire it into the stratosphere was a Super Astro tope. I'll be a high voter on this for sure, but right now I've got it top 5.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Shield v Wyatts: The Rematch

The Shield v The Wyatt Family (RAW, 3/3/14)

Fuck my face, this was amazing as well. I really didn't think there was much between this and the first match. This one is certainly more chaotic on the whole, especially from the very start with Rollins doing the double flip dives cleaning house. You get the double FIP spells here as well, but this felt like it was always even closer to completely breaking down than the Chamber match, and that was one wrong sideways glance away from being a prison riot in its own right. Ambrose was fucking indescribable here and strikes me as being right on the level with guys like Virus, Hechicero and the likes this year. He's belligerent to the end, wildly flinging himself at people, throwing crazy palms and fists and elbows at all angles, constantly spewing vitriol at the Wyatts even when he's being worked over, etc. There's one bit where Rowan has him in that knuckles-to-temples head vice over in the Wyatts corner, and Ambrose is shit talking Bray while yanking at Rowan's beard to get out of the hold. He has the best Thesz Press ever, the way he just dives at you like a rabid animal. Harper was phenomenal as well. Ambrose has Bray in a figure-four and bridges up to increase the pressure (which was awesome), so Harper comes in and double stomps Ambrose in the guts. He also throws two of the best big boots I've ever seen him throw. The second one looked like it completely detached Ambrose's mandible (and Ambrose takes it face on at full force like a true psycho). Thought the story of the Wyatts trying to keep Reigns out of the way was really cool as well. They isolated him in the Chamber match and he still almost managed to win on his own, so this time they decide to keep him out of the equation all together. Rollins bailing was a bit hokey, but he at least had a point, and it did lead to Reigns going full Spartacus on the House of Wyatt. Stretch run was incredible with guys just flying and dying everywhere. Reigns spearing Rowan over the announce desk was insane, then Harper hits his redneck tope and Reigns fucking zips across the desk like someone decking it on an ice rink at 70mph. I can't tell you how gutted I am about The Shield split after watching these Wyatt matches. Crazy multi-man tags like this are practically my favourite thing in wrestling, and this already feels like the perfect match-up for that setting.

Monday, 9 June 2014

The Shield - Taken too Soon

The Shield v The Wyatt Family (Elimination Chamber, 2/23/14)

Yeah, this was fucking outstanding. Other than general "that match is awesome and you should watch it yesterday" praise I'd managed to not read anything about it, so I really had no idea what to expect. So much about it was amazing, though. I can see someone thinking the early stuff was too "contained" with not enough out of control ass stomping, but the whole match had a genuinely volatile feel to it and you knew that once shit kicked off nobody was going to be able to stop it. This was the wrestling match equivalent of throwing a bunch of Pez into a bottle of Coke, and it's the ref's job to try and put the lid on before the furniture's ruined. But of course it eventually all broke loose like you knew it would, and that whole stretch was incredible. Everybody got to look great here, but Ambrose and Harper were maybe the stars. Ambrose is such a crazy fucker; everything he does looks so frantic and desperate. He jumps on Bray and clings to him like a limpet throwing wild punches and slaps. I've made the Terry Funk comparison before, and I'm not the first one to make it and I won't be the last, but he really has a bunch of Funkisms, especially in his selling. He also paces around on the apron like a caged animal and shit talks any time someone gets close to his corner. Harper was fucking killer as a hillbilly hunting dog wiping guys out and gifting the corpses to Bray (who I loved as a swamp rat Charles Manson orchestrating everything). The bit where Ambrose tries to run in and Harper meets him at the pass by booting his teeth through the back of his head might've been the best moment in a match littered with amazing moments. Was this the first time he busted out the redneck tope? Because the crowd reaction was practically that of disbelief. He has the look of Brody with none of the shitty wrestling ability. Actually, now that I think about it, maybe it was Rowan that was the star. He looked awesome with his slugfest punches (him and Reigns had one of the meatiest "yay/boo" punch exchanges in ages) and throwing guys around. At one point he grabs Rollins by the hair and, with one hand, drags him over to the corner like he was a sheep carcass. I also love how rather than going to a chinlock or whatever he just squeezes a guy's head by digging his knuckles into their temples (and Ambrose getting free by biting his fingers was great). I have a massive broner for Roman Reigns. No kidding. It's Aaron Ramsey/Thierry Henry levels of man crush and I'm not ashamed to admit that. He has a fucking ungodly amount of charisma and presence. You notice it even when he's standing on the apron doing nothing. The final segment where he has to go it alone against all three Wyatts - which is a super cool role reversal considering that's the kind of thing The Shield have been doing to other teams since they showed up - was really fantastic and pretty much booked to perfection. Bunch of other bits that I loved: Rollins' huge flip dive, Reigns and Rowan with the best double clothesline spot in ages, Bray's face as Reigns powers out of Sister Abigail, Rollins dying on the table spot, folk scattering as Ambrose and Bray fight in the crowd, so on and so on and so on. Just an awesome match, right up there with anything else this decade. Wouldn't have it #1 on a best US multi-man tags list, but I wouldn't think anybody else was nuts if they did.

Dean Ambrose v Sheamus (Smackdown!, 5/9/14)

I guess this is my first look at full-fledged babyface Ambrose, and yeah, I want every second of it. As frantic and desperate as he was in the six-man, he's even more so in this. He does a Lou Thesz Press that just looks completely wild and reckless, like a ferret trying to claw your eyes out. He hits a rebound lariat that looked legitimately organic and better than every rebound lariat Nigel McGuinness ever threw. I don't think I've ever seen a top rope chop block before, but Ambrose does it here. He also took a manly shitkicking. Seriously, Sheamus is just stiffing lumps out of him and Ambrose keeps coming back in the scrappiest ways possible. Ambrose is also injured coming in (because of an Evolution gang mauling on RAW, I think), and he makes awesome "fuck my whole life" faces after everything thrown at him. Not that it makes much difference, because he will not stop coming forward. Finish is great. Ambrose knows he's dead to rights but is either too proud or too belligerent to accept the countout. And holy shit was the final Brogue Kick an exclamation point. This is right on the level of the best WWE TV stuff this year.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

NJPW Skydiving J, 6/17/96

This was one of the first tapes I bought when I first started getting into Japanese wrestling. A lot of the 90s New Japan juniors stuff that I loved back then isn't my cup of tea anymore, but other than Liger/Togo I don't think I've watched any of this show in like ten years. I'm not gonna watch the whole thing again (fuck if I know where the tape even is at this point), but three of the matches made the '96 yearbook. And if I haven't skipped any Mayumi Ozaki matches then I'm not about to skip any involving Taka Michinoku, Dick Togo and Eddie Guerrero. 

Taka Michinoku v Super Delfin

This was alright. In one sense I guess it works as an M-Pro inro of sorts, but it's not like this is the first time these guys had wrestled in New Japan. It's been a while since I watched any non-yearbook M-Pro, but I get the feeling they've had way better singles matches on their own turf (or maybe I'm getting confused with all those multi-mans where they're on opposite sides). This was more like Rey Jr. and Psicosis taking their signature match on tour. Taka doesn't really act like a wee dickhead, but he has some spectacular highspots. His quebrada looks awesome and his springboard plancha where he jumps off two sets of ropes has just the right mix of gracefulness and recklessness. I dug how they do a different take on the lame chop battle, with Delfin wincing and grabbing his chest after each shot, almost like a comedy spot (which is kind of what that tripe has turned into at this point, although in an ironic way). Stretch run gets plenty of heat, but it kinda felt like they were just running through stuff, moving from one spot to the next with no real transitions or selling.

Jushin Liger v Dick Togo

This is the stuff right here. Togo is an awesome portly asskicker in this, but Liger is even better as your juniors ace. Five/six years ago I had Liger as a frontrunner for the GOAT. My tastes are way different now, and at this point I think I prefer Togo as my juniors #1, but this is the kind of Liger that I'll never tire of. Togo comes out the blocks on top and his early offence looks great, including a super nasty double stomp off the middle rope and an awesome fat boy bullet tope. His riling up of the crowd is really fun as well (crowd even boo). Then Liger takes over and gives it back ten times worse. This is his house, he's The Man in it, and he won't be shown up by a chubby indy dude. Liger teaching guys street lessons is by far the best Liger. Remember the NOAH feud twelve (fuckin TWELVE!) years ago where he was just a complete fucker and made Kikuchi hate his life? This is that Liger, only less surly (because if pro-wrestling has taught us anything, it's that true surliness comes with age). He hits three powerbombs in this and each one is sicker than the last. First one is in the ring, second is on the floor as a counter to a rana off the apron, and the third is on the exposed concrete. And he showboats in between just because. He also works Togo's arm for a while, and it all looks really good, but best of all it remains a theme the whole way through. Considering perfunctory juniors mat/limbwork is the dirt worst to me, any match where that mat/limbwork actually feels important is a huge bonus. Finishing run is nice and compact, and it probably could've even done with a few more minutes and nearfalls, which is an unusual yet pleasant surprise. Liger's final transition/comeback after two fat boy sentons felt a bit too easy, but he'd been on offence for a stretch before that anyway, so it's not a massive deal. Killer match.

Black Tiger v Great Sasuke

I remembered absolutely nothing about this, but I thought it was pretty decent. Thought it had more of a narrative and a more interesting dynamic than the BOSJ final I watched last week. Eddie is a much bigger and more muscular dude than Sasuke, so he kind of works this as junior heavyweight powerhouse. He reverses some Sasuke signature moves by just catching him and chucking him around, like plucking him out the air on an attempted springboard splash and hitting a belly to belly. He takes most of the match with some great offence - awesome looking hammerlock shoulderbreaker, a hilo to the arm, huge Alabama slam - and really doesn't give Sasuke time to breathe. He works the arm initially, then Sasuke tries to pull a Wild Pegasus and go to the sleeper (which was cool while it lasted), but Eddie dropkicks the knee and goes after that briefly. He returns to the arm down the stretch, but not as much is made of either as there could've been. Sasuke's offence comes in short spurs, most of it high risk craziness as time goes on. His missile dropkick to the floor is such a wild spot -- it looks like something from a Street Fighter game, but it has to hurt him way more than his opponent. That's concrete the psycho's landing on. I'm surprised he hasn't broken his hip doing it (actually he probably has). Some of his stuff doesn't come off great and looks botchy, so maybe he's concussed again (edit: reading the thread on PWO, apparently one of them had the flu. I'll assume it was Sasuke). Finish looks great and I guess it's supposed to come across as a "flash" finish, but it still felt a bit abrupt. Not the best match either guy had that year, but I'm all for Eddie Guerrero offence showcases.

Friday, 6 June 2014


I've pretty much just been picking out things to watch at random lately. 90s yearbooks, 80s sets, WWE from this year, late 90s ECW, random lucha on youtube, etc. These are some of those things:

Hechicero v Barbaro Cavernario (CMLL, 4/8/14)

You'll struggle to find a better sub-ten minute match than this all year. It goes seven and a half minutes and totally fucking ruled. I said not long ago that Cesaro is probably the most spectacular "big spot" wrestler in the world right now, but I might have to take that back because Hechicero is coming mighty close to topping him. I've watched four Hechicero matches from this year so far and he's literally done at least one thing per match that I've never seen before. I watched a trios match last night where he hit some Russian leg sweep pump handle slam thing and it looked nuts. In this he does something awesome for every minute that passes -- a crazy inverted monkey flip or whatever the fuck, an STF where he yanks Cavernario's hair back, some nutso spinning backbreaker thing, and he takes a fucking horrific bump off a missed senton to the floor that might've been even crazier than his tope to nowhere from last year (which was just about the spot of the year). And Cavernario follows up on that lunacy by hitting a wild splash from the top rope to the floor. Seriously, for seven minutes this had a bit of everything: nifty matwork, great offence, huge bumps, big spots, a great comeback and a good finish. I hope Hechicero doesn't die any time soon, because I want to watch him do his thing a whole lot this year.

Luke Harper & Erick Rowan v The Usos (RAW, 6/2/14)

A Texan friend of mine suggested these guys could have something really good with some decent time. This gets about fourteen minutes. First half is pretty by the numbers yet solid; second half is really good stuff. Pretty sure this is my first time seeing Rowan actually wrestle (unless he was in the Rumble, but then you don't get a great handle on a guy with those things). Think it's my first time seeing Harper in WWE as well. Both guys look like they're straight out of Mance Rayder's wildling army. Harper has either sweat or bacon grease staining the front of his shirt and looks like the kind of person that eats live pigeons because they give him "body fuel." He might be my favourite wrestler of all time based on that alone. This is definitely my first Usos match. They're total energetic 80s babyfaces, hand-clapping and full of beans. The Islanders of 2014, I guess. They seem solid. I can't remember which one is which, but one of them threw a few corkers of punches (although they also throw a few that are real thigh-slappy). They do a bunch of superkicks to the midsection of Rowan and Harper. They're not Chris Adams superkicks, but they look fine. Harper was king in this, though. He has amazing crazy eyes. There was one point where an Uso kicked out of a huge running boot, and Harper had this great Silence of the Lambs smirk that was barely noticeable through his beard. One of the Usos has taped up ribs coming in, and the match really kicks up a gear when the Wyatts isolate him and target the injury. Rowan feels like the weakest of the Wyatt family, but I loved him setting the Uso up across the top turnbuckle and headbutting him in the midsection. Stretch run is pretty hot with a crazy Uso dive and an amazing spot where Harper winds up for his spinning lariat only to be drilled right in the face with a nasty wheel kick. The more Wyatts matches I watch the more excited I get about finally watching those Wyatts/Shield matches.

Hulk Hogan & High Flyers v Ken Patera, Jesse Ventura & Bobby Heenan (AWA, 3/13/83)

I guess this is the RnRs/Duggan v MX/Ladd of the AWA set. It's not as good as that six-man, but it's still pretty fucking great. I know hindsight is a beautiful thing and all, but even at the time Verne must've been crazy not to see mega money in Hogan. I mean, Hogan was always going to end up in the WWF eventually (so does that make Verne Daniel Levy and Vince Florentino Perez? And Hogan the biggest Galactico of them all?), but dicking fans around with the constant Dusty Finishes rather than actually putting the belt on him probably hurt them in the long run. Hulk is just craaaaazy over here. Any time he gets within two feet of Heenan the place erupts. Bobby was so awesome on this set, both in the ring and as a manager. He doesn't bleed to the point of near death in this (he did that a few other times on the set), but every bump he takes looks wild. He's such an awkward and reckless bumper; not in the sense he looks untrained, but in the sense he almost breaks his neck every other bump, and it's clearly intentional. It's embellished, and sometimes that kind of bumping annoys me a bit (WWF-era Hennig, Dolph Ziggler), but he manages to strike a perfect balance. Crowd of course hate his guts. This is some serious, visceral hatred; just pure toxic loathing. Even Cornette never got this kind of shit flung at him, and he tried to date rape Ricky Morton with a chloroform rag! FIP spell on Gagne is really good here. Jesse and Patera grind him down with bearhugs, but on the bearhug spectrum these were pretty good. Jesse hoists him above his head and really squeezes around the hip bones, so it's a different take on your traditional bearhug if nothing else. Heenan obviously gets his licks in, and he's the perfect...well, weasel. I'd have preferred Gagne to make the hot tag right to Hogan rather than going to Brunzell who then tags in Hulk after teasing going in peril himself, but it's whatever. Dug the finish, too. Also, you gotta love Hogan yanking off Jesse's do-rag and mocking him for being all bald on the top, party in the back. HOGAN, fer fucks. This ruled, btw.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Re-Watching Some AWA

I feel like a shithead for not finishing the AWA set and getting a ballot in. It's the only one I've had to bitch out on since I started taking part in the DVDVR project. I'll finish it at some point, hopefully before I hit thirty. Some of the stuff I'd already watched was really awesome, though, and I want to go back and watch a bunch of it.

Jerry Blackwell & Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie v High Flyers (Cage Match) (4/18/82)

One of the best cage match sprints ever. This has pretty much everything I want out of a cage match like this -- guys punching lumps out each other, hate and blood and piss and vinegar, crazy cage bumps, a rabid crowd, a satisfying finish, and Jerry Blackwell. It's really your traditional AWA tag formula in a cage match, but the hate and violence is ramped way up. There's no slow build; it's just frantic and non-stop right from the jump. You get your two FIP sections with Gagne and Brunzell, and those sections are good, but this is at its best when the babyfaces are launching Kaissie and Blackwell into every side of the cage. I think this was the match that made me a huge Jerry Blackwell fan (it took me another wild cage match to come to the conclusion that he was the god of wild cage matches), and he's a total bump freak psycho in this. Gagne traps him between the ropes and a side of the cage and repeatedly smashes his face off the cage, and Blackwell throws himself into these shots so hard it looks like the cage will literally collapse. He takes two insane torpedo bumps where he sails over the ropes and goes head first into the cage, and a morbidly obese man like him shouldn't be able to do things like that. Kaissie is also a guy that will have his cut up forehead grated across mesh in cringe-inducingly nasty ways. Post-match is great as well with old man Verne getting in there before Blackwell squashes Greg to death. This was my working #2 on the AWA set. I don't think it would've finished that high had I got through the whole set, but it wouldn't have dropped out the top 10.

High Flyers v Rick Martel & Tito Santana (8/29/82)

This was also in my working top 10, and on re-watch I think I liked it even more than the cage match. This is one of the better face v face tags I've ever seen in the US (maybe face v face matches, period). The first segment with Martel and Tito controlling with the headlock is some of the best headlock control stuff you'll see. Everything feels super rough and fought for; nothing is given up or comes easy. Either Martel/Tito are doing something to force the issue or Gagne/Brunzell are doing something to escape, and most of the time you get both. The bits where they come up for air and work a sequence look killer as well, and they're always changing everything up to keep it fresh. When we come back from a commercial we're into the segment where the Flyers have taken over and going after Tito and Martel's legs, and that's just as good. Some of the little touches of selling from Martel and Tito are awesome, especially from Martel. He was always great at that stuff, doing things like shaking the leg out while he's on the apron, limping when gets back on offence, constantly grimacing, etc. Great spot where he hits a backbreaker on the bad leg and writhes around in agony before having to tag out, then later on he hits another one but makes sure to use the other leg this time. Plus you get to see a super quick Greg Gagne Indian Deathlock. There's a couple "missed move" spots in this that were fucking awesome. Tito's missed dropkick on Gagne was maybe the best missed dropkick I've ever seen. He really throws himself into it and Gagne sidesteps it right at the last second, and you could buy it KOing him if he hadn't. When Tito has to duck a Greg clothesline Greg really keeps him honest with it. 95% of the time you'll be able to tell when a guy is missing a clothesline, because they'll throw it way higher than they normally would, and sometimes the other guy barely even has to duck. Greg MAKES Tito duck. He swings his arm at the same level he would for any other clothesline and it looks crazy reckless, so it's another spot you could buy as a legit KO if it connected. And good grief that finish. Might be the best dropkick ever thrown. Great, great match.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

I Want to Watch ECW

Been a minute since I busted out the ECW set, and I want to watch some Tajiri. So I killed two birds with one stone.

Sabu v One Man Gang (1/23/99)

Alfonso with that fucking whistle. This was basically Sabu practising crazy chair- and rope-assisted highspots on a big fat test dummy. And I liked it a bunch. Gang squashes him at the start and Sabu comes back by stabbing him in the face and tits with a fork, but he also threw some killer right hands that I did not remember him having. Then it's wild spot/bump after wild spot/bump (Sabu is responsible for the spot and bump simultaneously). Nuttiest of them all was probably the springboard legdrop while Gang is on a table propped between the barricade and the ring apron. He overshoots it a bit and it causes him to half land with his own tail bone catching the edge of the barricade while the rest of his butt comes down on Gang's head. This is just about the most random match-up I could think of, but it totally worked for me.

Tajiri v Super Crazy (2/6/99)

This was pretty much the absolute best version of a first round match in an indy fliers tournament, just 100% balls to the wall with everything hitting hard and clean for eight/nine minutes. Tajiri is rocking the blue trunks and isn't in full psycho mode yet, but he still kicks like a motherfucker. I've talked before about how he's a guy that will take a spot I normally hate and make it not suck at all, and his indy stand off spots are probably the best example. They never look too cliche, and they're always super quick and impressive with some things you never see in most indy stand offs. They do one here that was like forty five seconds long and had a bunch of awesome looking shit in it, and best of all at the end they don't just stand there so the crowd can clap, they walk up to each other and get in each other's face. I mean, this is still a fight, right? For the most part this is a spotfest sprint, but it's a hell of a spotfest sprint and a nice contrast to their Mexican Death Match where Tajiri looks like he's trying to actually kill Crazy and crowd members alike.

Rob Van Dam v Jerry Lynn (2/11/99)

This is one of my least favourite match-ups in wrestling history, and I expected to be apathetic towards it at best and hate it at worst. Alfonso is still running around with the whistle and gibbering like a spaz at ringside, but other than that I thought this was alright. They run a few stand offs at the start, but neither guy is Tajiri and they look rote and the same as every RVD/Jerry Lynn stand off you've ever seen. Most of the match is the kind of Step Up street dance routine you expect out of these two, but it wasn't as over the top as I was expecting. There's one spot where Lynn is holding a chair and Van Dam tries to spin kick it into his face, but Lynn ducks and places the chair on the mat. Van Dam goes to sweep kick his legs straight after, so Lynn jumps over that and comes down with a legdrop which mashes Van Dam's face into the chair. I think they did that spot in a bunch of their matches (maybe every single one ever), but I hadn't seen it in a while and it looked real nasty here (Van Dam gets a cut above his eye for his troubles, too). Say what you want about Rob Van Dam, but the guy will take a DDT straight on the crown of his head. Sometimes it looks goofy and overly ridiculous (I'm fine with plain old ridiculous), but he does it here with his neck to the side and he bounces off the mat like it was a trampoline. Looked about as gnarly as I've ever seen it. There's a few more RVD/Lynn matches on this set. I don't think I'll watch all of them, but this was fine.

Tajiri v Super Crazy (2/12/99)

Similar to their last match, but probably even better. They still roll out some of the same spots, but they change up enough that it feels like a very different match. The start of this one is way more hectic as well. They don't bother with the parity stuff and head straight into Tajiri hitting a nutso Asai moonsault into the crowd, then that's followed by Crazy hitting a fucking insane quebrada that lands him about nine rows deep. Tajiri busts out an awesome looking somersault plancha over the ring post as well. Crazy's rolling surfboard is such a cool spot. Some guys have a hard time keeping a regular surfboard hooked in, never mind keeping it hooked in while rolling around the mat with someone still in it. Dug the finish as well, with Crazy hitting a string of springboard missile dropkicks followed by a springboard frog splash. This might be the best match-up in ECW history.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

The Shield

So, other than CMLL, I'm totally clueless on most current wrestling. Is ROH still a thing? TNA? When did the Briscoes grow incredible hillbilly beards? I'll usually watch at least one lucha maestros match from some backwater cock-fighting ring in Tijuana per year, and last year I never even managed that. I saw almost no WWE, and that was with people constantly telling me to watch a bunch of awesome Shield and Cesaro and Goldust matches. I mean, I'd seen bits of the Shield from this year and I liked all of it, but I never fully committed myself to watching all this stuff everybody had been telling me to.

Well, last week I bought a Shield comp and finally decided to do it. And fuck me if I don't feel like an idiot for not watching them sooner, because this shit is just a blast. Then last night they blew the faction up, which bums me out more than pretty much anything else in wrestling in a good while. Here's to the good times.

(I wrote about all of this before RAW last night, btw. You'll notice how optimistic I was while doing so. There's still a ton of stuff I'm looking forward to watching, like the Rhodes Brothers matches from last year and the Wyatts feud from this year, but everything from this point forward will be tinged with sadness knowing that they are no more. Prolly)

The Shield v Team Hell No & Ryback (TLC, 12/16/12)

I thought this was pretty fucking great. I've obviously been way out of the loop with WWE over the last few years and I know Bryan and The Shield are both over like crazy right now, but right from the jump the crowds seemed to take to The Shield and Bryan's YES/NO shtick was evidently pretty huge earlier than I thought. Everybody was at least good in this, even Kane who kind of stayed out of the way for the most part. Is this the best match he's ever been involved in? Definitely the best I've ever seen Ryback look, and I liked the way he was booked. The period he wasn't involved was because he was taken out with something appropriately huge, and when he was involved he got to look like a wrecking ball. The bit on the ramp where he just recklessly flung himself at Reigns and crashed through like four chairs and a ladder was awesome. Bryan was Bryan. Dug the triple No Lock spot and he always came across as a guy that would fight the odds no matter how stacked against him they were. Shield were fucking killer, though, especially Ambrose. He does a bunch of great little things and I bet he was a big Terry Funk mark. There was one bit where he hits Ryback with a chair, but instead of doing it like you'd normally see someone do a chair shot he just flings it at him and the chair bounces off Ryback's neck. Loved all of the big spots and never thought any of them were annoyingly contrived. Bryan's blindside tope, Rollins being chucked off the ladder through a stack of tables, Kane being speared through the barricade, etc. The Kane barricade spot was especially cool because it's a spot that's been done a fair bit in WWE over the years and has kind of lost some of its impact. This was really out of nowhere, though, and didn't feel blatantly set up. The most impressive thing with all of it is that it managed to retain a sense of chaos, which is unusual for big porpfesty WWE gimmick matches. Match also felt like a real case of an organised unit up against a makeshift trio, so you've got three Shield members working together all the time to isolate someone. Other than the third TLC match I really can't think of one I'd say is better than this, and even then I think this is the kind of thing I'd like more on re-watch at this point. I already feel like a doofus for putting off watching all this Shield stuff for so long. God bless Seabs' comp.

The Shield v John Cena, Sheamus & Ryback (Elimination Chamber, 2/17/13)

I liked this even more than the TLC match. One thing I'm noticing about these Shield matches already is how well they actually come across as a genuine unit. It was the same in the TLC match. They're obviously way less established here than they are now, but they're able to plausibly hang with three guys much higher up the card at the time, because while those three guys are individuals that are teaming together for the same cause, they're still not a TEAM. Not like The Shield. All of the Shield isolation spots, double- and triple-teams, saves, parts where they just overwhelm with numbers, etc. are all so well done. FIP section on Cena was really good stuff. Reigns has awesome headbutts, Rollins hits a crazy flying knee off the top and clearly dropped the Tyler Black-isms way before I figured he would, and Ambrose wrestles like a nutter again. Nothing he does is pretty -- it's all reckless and looks borderline-untrained, but in the best way possible. Some of his Heath Ledger Joker faces are definitely cooky, but guys making cooky facial expressions in wrestling is just about the last thing I'll complain about. Finishing run seemed shorter than in some of the TV matches I've watched from this year, but it was great while it lasted, which feels like a staple of these tags. Reigns' spear through the barricade was fucking spectacular again and ever better than than the one on Kane. Lillian throwing herself out of dodge was so great, like someone diving out of the way of a bus crash. Finish ruled, too. Reigns feels like the weakest worker of the three members, but his timing on big spots like that is impeccable.

The Shield v Goldust, Cody Rhodes & Big E Langston (RAW, 1/20/14)

Have we been getting this kind of trios match every week for a while now? Because again, I'm a numpty for not getting around to watching them sooner. This never really had a ton of structure or a real FIP section to sink my teeth into, but it was a fun as fuck ten minute sprint -- the kind of thing I will never really get tired of, and I'm hoping there's a bunch more of this ilk on the set. I've still basically seen jack shit of Roman Reigns compared to others that watch WWE every week, but am I being silly thinking Reigns is a really cool seller? Like, in subtle ways especially? Because his concussed sell of the Disaster Kick was awesome here and when he stood up to make the tag I could buy him puking right then and there. I dug him a bunch in the short Henry match from Smackdown last month as well, and his selling impressed me then, too. That Superman Punch on Cody was holy shit great and had me leaning on rewind like a motherfucker. This might actually be the first full Big E match I've seen and I liked him as a giant slab of muscle that chucks dudes around. I mean, his chucking around was certainly impressive, like the overhead belly to belly on Ambrose. Plus his Ultimate Warrior splash looks wonderful. Couple cool dives from the Rhodes brothers down the stretch as well (Goldust is doing somersault planchas off the apron in 2014? Why did y'all not tell me to watch more current Goldust?). Final few minutes were totally awesome, everybody just going a hundred miles an hour and running through a bunch of spots. I could get used to this.

The Shield v Daniel Bryan, Christian & Sheamus (Smackdown, 2/11/14)

Yeah, I'm all about this shit. I watched three Shield v Bryan and pals matches over the last two days and this one was my favourite. The other two took a bit to get going, but this had almost no filler with a short Bryan in peril section then a longer Sheamus in peril section, which was cool and a nice change of pace from him being the hot tag. Not that he doesn't still get to lay into people, because he does. He and Reigns have a turn hitting each other real hard and Reigns pops him with a fucking amazing right uppercut (Reigns also gives him this great "You again?" sneer upon entry). The transition into him being worked over was so awesome -- he's just done his ten count clubs to the chest on Rollins, but this time he's the one out on the apron. He goes up top from there and Ambrose runs along to cut him off, but Sheamus clubs him in the face before he gets there. Rollins then runs over and hits a kind of wheel kick to knock him off, and as he falls back in the ring he ends up lying with his head hanging out on the apron, so Reigns takes advantage and hits his cool running apron dropkick. Just a great sequence. Run to the finish totally ruled with Bryan kicking lumps out of every Shield member, him and Rollins hitting topes one after the other, Sheamus KOing Christian with a miscued Brogue Kick and Reigns following up with a spear. I get the sense you could pretty much stick any combination of three guys in there against The Shield and it'd turn out worthwhile.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Shadows are Falling, Virus is out of Sight

Virus, Okumura & Bobby Zavala v Stuka Jr., Fuego & Guerrero Maya Jr. (CMLL, 1/3/14) - GOOD

This starts out with Virus and Fuego and I love Virus grabbing Fuego's arm and flinging him all around the ring while not letting go once. That then turns into a mini-FIP spell where all three rudos isolate Fuego and work the arm. Fuego is someone that I'll really enjoy one week and then the next week I'll barely notice his involvement, and maybe it's because I watched this half asleep, but I don't really remember a single thing he did in this match other than have his elbow yanked at by the rudos. I dug Okamura again here. His matwork is super solid and looks pretty rough, especially when he gets to match up with someone that's willing to shove their forearm in his nose in return, but his stooging was the most fun in this. He avoids a Maya Jr. dive by literally running all the way up the ramp, then celebrates like it was a victory. Finish to the primera was the best, as Maya Jr. goes for a springboard of some sort and Virus just dickishly kicks the middle rope causing him to fall on his neck. 

Virus, Terrible & Vangelis v La Mascara, Rush & Titan (CMLL, 1/21/14) - GREAT

Virus and Rush are two of my three favourite wrestlers in the world right now, so there was almost no way I wouldn't enjoy this. I mean, I'm probably overrating it, but it had a bunch of awesome Virus and Rush moments, so fuck it. I liked this a bunch. To start out we get a bit of Virus v Mascara matwork, and it was nifty and I was digging it, but then Virus wanders too close to the tecnico corner and Titan grabs his hair, presumably just to fuck with him. So Virus fucks back by punching him square in the dish. Rest of the match is mostly about Virus/Titan and serves as a pretty great set up to the title match a week later (which I'm stoked about). Initially Virus takes cheapshot after cheapshot and constantly interferes (at one point he casually strolls in and Sheamus punts Titan in the spine) until Titan has had enough, then Virus changes his tune and chills on the apron instead. The parts where they match up are good, but Titan will do a bunch of daft flippy shit for no real reason and there were a couple points where Virus should've just kicked him in the chin. Virus/Rush exchanges, brief as they may have been, fucking ruled. Rush rips on him for being tiny so Virus chops him, and Rush responds by tearing off Virus' shirt and caving his chest in. Rush's roid-rage bursts of violence where he attacks everything in sight are always amazing. He and Terrible do their usual dance and smack each other really hard, often in the face. Vangelis has grown on me huge recently. He's kind of similar to Rush and Terrible in the sense he's a big muscled up dude that'll full force boot you in the grill. Mascara did some things but was pretty much background noise.

Complete & Accurate Virus

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Virus! Virus! Virus!

Virus & Shigeo Okamura v Blue Panther & Delta (CMLL, 12/23/13) - GREAT

I thought the first caida of this was really fucking good stuff. Virus and Delta have a nice exchange and get to do a bit on the mat, but it was Panther and Okamura matching up that I liked most. I've seen a few Okamura in CMLL matches now and he's taken to lucha really well, which isn't something I've felt about a lot of Japanese wrestlers working Mexico. His mat exchange with Panther was great here. It wasn't fancy, but it was rugged and methodical, like two guys thinking several steps ahead. Panther's maestro matwork is something I've come to really love over the last couple years. Whatever he's lost in flash and quickness he's made up for in surliness and old bastard roughness. Unfortunately we never got a lengthy section where he and Virus could replicate their lightning match from earlier in the year, but you take what you can get, and the two of them pairing off for the finish was yet another piece of evidence that a big singles match wouldn't suck. Delta brought some real prettiness to things with a big moonsault that got massive hangtime and a nice headscissors to the floor, and late in the tercera he hurls himself at Virus with the dive of the match (and Virus almost KOs a beer vendor by flying up the ramp). There's a goofy submission train in the third caida that felt pretty out of place in comparison to the grittiness of the opening Panther/Okamura exchange, but I wasn't hating it or anything. This was one of Virus' more quiet performances of the year, although he still got to rip someone up with submissions and hit his awesome run-up-the-ring-post armdrag from the Maya Jr. match (and it looked even more spectacular here). Minus a couple matches that I can't seem to get working on youtube I've watched just about all the Virus from last year that I want to, and this was a cool way to go out. 


Some other Virus matches I've talked about before that I'll just repost here for the sake of keeping things organised:

Virus v Guerrero Maya Jr. (CMLL, 6/7/11) - EPIC

I'll probably only watch another 10 non-WWE matches this year, but I see this and get the sense I could watch a hundred and not find anything better than it. This was terrific. Virus used to wrestle in the minis division as Damiancito El Guerrero and he had that match with Cicloncito Ramirez that's the best fucking match ever. That was 14 years ago. And he STILL rules it like an absolute king. The first caida matwork isn't quite up there with the best IWRG grappling, but it was all good-really good stuff. Third caida is what propels this into the stratosphere, though. Just tonnes of great moments and the finishing stretch is as dramatic as any lucha finishing stretch I've seen in the last 10 years. There's one woman who looks to be in her 20s in the front row completely losing her shit. At one point the camera pans to her and it looks like she just had a heart attack. Not sure what my favourite part was. Virus' dive was truly spectacular in a totally chest-crushing sort of way and served as the *perfect* catalyst for his comeback, but the chop exchange that ends with Virus "winding up" his right arm for a big chop only to CRACK Maya right in the grill with his left fist was TOO fucking great. And I have no idea what you'd even call that finish, but it looked amazing.

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

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.

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

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.

Virus, Fuego & Vangellys v Negro Casas, Stuka Jr. & Valiente (CMLL, 6/14/13) - EPIC

Fucking killer trios sprint. Everybody got to look at least really good here, especially Vangellys (which was a pleasant surprise) who had a massive chip on his shoulder the whole match and just relentlessly went after Casas. I have no idea why, but it made for a great little subplot. Casas was fucking phenomenal, though. At first he kind of reacted to it like a guy that knew someone was after his blood, but wasn't really sure why (there's a great bit where he's hunched up in the corner with this "what did I do this time?" look on his face). Then after a while he stopped wondering about the why and decided to give as good as he got. Now and again a young pup will pick on the old dog. Maybe the young pup thinks the old dog has been around too long and it's time he was put out of his misery. The young pup could make a name for himself if it was him that did it. Except the young pup clearly doesn't know why that old dog has been around for as long as he has. If he did, he'd let that old dog lie. Any time Virus and Casas are on opposite sides of a trios match you really want them getting a lengthy section to pair off. This wasn't exactly the kind of trios where that was going to happen (it was pretty much hell for leather from word one, so nobody was getting a lengthy mat section), but the part where they were tearing each other to ribbons with chops and spin kicks to the guts was great. And of course a Virus/Casas singles match would rule the fucking earth. The big dives in this were spectacular as well, especially Valiente's moonsault plancha, primarily because they come out of nowhere (seriously, Valiente's was fucking incredible). Awesome stuff, and of all the CMLL from last year that I've watched so far, this might be my favourite match yet.

Complete & Accurate Virus