Friday, 24 December 2010

That Time I Got Drunk With Tenryu #2

Theme this week is BAD-ASSERY. Tenryu, Kanemoto, Ikeda, Ishikawa, Murakami, Takayama, so on and so forth. Been watching quite a lot of shoot style recently too, so I'll talk about some of that. And Volk Han, like I promised...

Genichiro Tenryu & Tiger Mask II v Riki Choshu & George Takano (New Japan, 2/14/90)

All Japan are INVADING and this crowd is AMPED to the trillionth fucking degree. This was awesome. Absolutely any time Tenryu is in the ring things are incredible and the crowd is completely losing it for every exchange between him and Takano, and even more so between him and Choshu. The Tenryu/Choshu exchanges are especially great because they just obliterate each other. First time Tenryu gets in he charges at Choshu and Choshu is ducking out of the way and dodging him, and Tenryu's continually trying to change directions and grab hold of him so he can break his teeth. He's not so much running at him, but just recklessly bull rushing him in a pissed off fury of black and yellow. Choshu hits a few ridiculous lariats and generally lays a hellish beating on Tenryu. Tenryu throws chops that sound like a shotgun blast and whips out a few lariats of his own with complete disregard for Choshu's face. He kicks him in the eye, stomps on his nose and punts him in the neck. I mean this is just volcanic hatred. Tenryu also seems to have pissed in Takano's cereal because Takano keeps trying to rip his head off with leg lariats and shit. There's one point where he slaps him and Tenryu just starts laying into him with elbows to the face, so Takano literally shoves him on his ass and the pop for this shit is insane. Match actually takes a big dip any time fucking MISAWA gets in, so that tells you how great the Tenryu stuff is. Granted, Tiger Mask Misawa is a far cry from regular old Mitsuharu. He's good as the outmatched underdog hanging and banging with the enemy, though. Doesn't bring the same kind of barbarous stiffness that Tenryu or Choshu bring, but he'll rifle off a kick from time to time that looks real nasty. Also not shocking that he spends a chunk of time being worked over. Structure is sort of similar to the tags on the NJ 80s set that really wore me out, but I thought they were much better at working momentum shifts into this and they weren't nearly as go-go-go here, plus there were no tags on that set with the same amounts of monumental contempt as there is in this; hate is the selling point here. Lots and lots of hate. Stretch to the finish is amazing and I really can't do it justice. It's literally great moment after great moment with it all building to a huge fever pitch, guys trying to murder each other, crowd losing its collective mind, etc. Way too much to try and hit on it all, but the spot of the match for me is where Choshu goes to lariat Misawa in the corner, and Tenryu steps in front of it and just gets beheaded. Finish is arguably anti-climactic, but if you're gonna end it like that then having everyone vaporize each other beforehand is a great way to make it work. Just a terrific, terrific match.

Volk Han v Yoshihisa Yamamoto (RINGS, 12/29/95)

Great match, almost the best possible shoot style Liu Kang v Shao Kahn. Yamamoto is clearly determined not to be beaten and keeps on coming and coming, but Han just keeps rolling out these crazy tricked out holds and Yamamoto can't do a thing about it. There are times where it looks like he might be able to at least force Han to use up a rope break, but Han just bides his time, waits it out, and counters it into something of his own. There's one spot where he has Yamamoto in a cross arm breaker and Yamamoto's squirming and trying to kick Han's arms away, so Han just grabs hold of his leg as well and winds up hooking in this fucking ridiculous cross arm breaker/kneebar combo that was seriously too cool for school. The overhead cam' in RINGS makes all of Han's nutso matwork look even more spectacular. Yamamoto's forced to use up two of his rope breaks and Han is almost leisurely reversing stuff and seemingly creating shit of his own on the fly. Then persistence pays off and Han's forced to use up two rope breaks of his own. The first one seemed like a case of him giving the opponent one so it at least looks competitive, because he didn't seem to be in too much danger, but the second one comes after a nasty scare where he's caught in a half crab right in the middle of the ring. What started off as being a stroll was turning into something much closer. Kinda like all those Lakers games last year where things were comfortable going into the fourth and then Deron Williams or some other speedy little hellcat would burn Derek Fisher into the ground. Han had a 20 point lead going into the fourth quarter, then Yamamoto went on a run and tied it up. Plus it's on Yamamoto's home court and he has the crowd believing. Like Cleveland before LeBron skipped town and all the t-shirts were burned and Dan Gilbert flipped his tree. Final minute and a half is terrific. Yamamoto actually manages to force Han into a THIRD rope break, so Han pretty much says fuck it and starts lobbing palm strikes at his face for a knockdown. And the finish... how the fuck about it? Hometown boy done good, crowd goes apeshit, men cry. This is the fuckin' biscuits.

Yuki Ishikawa v Daisuke Ikeda (Battlarts, 9/1/97)

This might be the earliest iteration of this match that I've seen, and it felt more like a scrappy bar fight than any of their other matches. You obviously have to sub in cross arm breakers and ankle picks for pool cues and beer bottles, but they're still hucking ridiculous strikes at each other like any good bar fight is likely to have. I was surprised at how much Ishikawa was controlling things here; I watched their Futen match from '05 last week and that had Ishikawa on the defensive for large parts, which is what I remember most from their matches. This was totally great though and builds to a finish where they're trading holds and trying to knock the other's lights out with lariats. Ikeda seems to like the idea of taking Ishikawa's leg home with him so he rifles off kicks and continually goes for kneebars and the sort, and it's a really cool touch that gets huge heat towards the end. Probably prefer this to the Ishikawa/Otsuka match from 2/28 as my favourite BatBat match from the '97 stuff I've seen so far.

Yuki Ishikawa v Kazunari Murakami (Battlarts, 5/10/01)

I loved their short match in 2000, so when I came across this I had to check it out. Didn't think it was on the level of the previous year's match, but this was really nifty all the same, sort of a Nitro-sized shoot style sprint. Has the same hallmarks as their first match, in that Murakami is a total dick and throws a bunch of reckless and violent strikes and Ishikawa keeps coming back because that's who he fucking is. As soon as it starts Murakami high kicks him in the head and Ishikawa is great at selling the knockdown, getting up and smiling like he knows he just took a hefty blow, but won't give this sociopath the satisfaction of showing it. Murakami's pissed off sneer is maybe the best ever. His last two punch flurries are just insane, too. He's also a guy I keep meaning to check out a lot more of because every time I watch him I have a blast... and for whatever reason I still haven't gotten around to it. Should probably do that some time.

Yoshihiro Takayama v Katsuyori Shibata (New Japan, 8/15/03)

Shibata is up there with Murakami in terms of guys I need to see more of. He's in that same stiff-bastard-that'll-punch-you-dead-in-the-face vein as Murakami, albeit less of a psychopath. This match is like a shot of Absinthe - packs a Hell of a punch (literally, in the case of the match) for something so small (or short, in the case of the match). Goes about 6 minutes and they really lay into each other the whole time. Shibata's a grade-A ass kicker, but Takayama is Takayama and HE'S a grade-A ass kicker as well, plus he has the weight, height, strength and reach advantage over Shibata. Shibata is at least the faster of the two, but above all else he doesn't give two shits about being at a disadvantage and just tries to cave Tak's face in from word one. The moment where he takes off his gloves, throws them at Takayama who's sitting down in the corner, and running dropkicks him flush in the face was really spectacular. The combos they were throwing out towards the end were some GNARLY fuggin' combos as well.

Koji Kanemoto v Masato Tanaka (New Japan, 4/13/08)

Talked about the Kanemoto/Marufuji match from this year a couple days ago and how Kanemoto as the surly ass-stomper protecting his home turf while going for a title belt is a dynamic/role I'm a big fan of (I'm paraphrasing, but that was the general point I made). This has more of the same, only this has Tanaka in place of Marufuji and doesn't go ten minutes too long, so it's a flat out better match. I actually thought it was legitimately fucking great. Kanemoto winds up controlling about 75% of it, which isn't something I was expecting going in, but I enjoy watching Kanemoto kick the shit out of dudes, and Tanaka brought the fire when he needed to, anyway. He doesn't have goofy offence either so it all looked intense and nasty. They do a spot mid-match after Tanaka looks to have gained control, where he sets up a table and seems to be going to splash Kanemoto through it, but Koji casually sits up and tosses Tanaka through it instead. Felt like a great "Fuck this tables bullshit - we KICK people in the FACE here!" spot. Finishing run doesn't border on overkill and still manages to come across as "epic", which is a massive positive for me when I'm watching 2008 Japanese wrestling. I also had no idea who won this going on, so I was getting way into it towards the end, even marking out pretty hard when Kanemoto kicked out of that sliding elbow to the face that Tanaka does. Oh yeah, those sliding elbows; Koji took those like a fucking KING. Seriously, there were three and he took them flush in the nose every time. Found myself leaning on rewind like a motherfucker for all of them. Kanemoto is also making me not groan every time I see an ankle lock and, well, fuck me sideways, because that's pretty incredible considering how much Kurt Angle's managed to beat that dead horse in oblivion. This was freaking choice.

NEXT WEEK: if I'm still on a shoot style kick then some more of that, so Han, Ishikawa, Tamura and the likes. Most of next week will likely be a drunken blur though, so I can't say for sure. Tenryu and Kanemoto will surely be back as well. Might try and watch one of those Dragon Gate matches I said I'd try and watch this week. Or I'll just watch more Tenryu. Who knows?

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

1992 WCW - Pack Your Gun, One On One, Come And Get Some

Brian Pillman v Scotty Flamingo (Beach Blast, 6/20/92)

Our future Raven was passable enough here, but I thought Pillman did a Hell of a job carrying him to something much more than that. Scotty is about as by-the-numbers as you can get when he's on offence, pretty chinlock and clubber happy, but Pillman is great on defence and manages to offset it well. Pillman on offence is also really good and this is one of the better examples of him working holds that I can think of. I mean, I've watched a hefty chunk of U-Style, Battlarts and RINGS over the last few days, so Pillman working holds around the arm and Scotty trying to find ways of shaking him wasn't likely to set the world on fire or make me forget who Volk Han is, but it's solid to good stuff and that's really all I'll ask for with something like this. Cool spot that gives Scotty control, as Pillman goes up top to fly, but remembers this is Wattsville and top rope moves are banned, except he realises it too late and can't climb down before Scotty launches him from the top all the way across the ring. Pillman's bump that sets up the finish is totally crazy as well. Looks like he's going for an inside-to-outside flying clothesline, but Scotty moves and Pillman goes head-first into the ramp. Think Undertaker's tope from Wrestlemania 25 where he spikes himself on the ground. Scotty's knee drop or whatever it was supposed to be afterwards was pretty flimsy, but that bump made up for it big time and really felt like the kind of thing that would cost you a title; anything after it is insult to injury.

Sting v Cactus Jack (Falls Count Anywhere on the Gulf Coast - Beach Blast, 6/20/92)

Falls Count Anywhere on the Gulf Coast might be the best name for a gimmick match ever. Wild match. It's been said before that Foley's a guy who's great at bringing the best out of guys in this kind of crazy environment, and it definitely applies to his matches with Sting. Wouldn't necessarily say it was a Foley carry job, but I can't imagine Sting having *this* kind of match, *this* good, with anyone else. Is this one of the more notable nutso Foley bump shows? He doesn't eat the same kind of ridiculous strikes as he does in the Vader matches, and I guess there isn't anything as visually impressive (is impressive the right word to use considering what he's actually doing to himself..?) as a fair amount of his other famous career bumps, but he still eats a vertical and back suplex on concrete, gets nothing but concrete on an elbow from the middle rope to the floor, and does his crazy sunset flip from the apron that somehow hasn't ever broken his shin (or has it?), so it's not like he's taking it easy on himself or anything. Still, this isn't all about Foley taking nasty bumps (Sting takes a few himself); they manage to capture an out of control aura really well, and by the end it feels like Sting has just come through a war against one of the most insane motherfuckers walking. The bumps that Foley takes go a long way in making this, but it's not as if they're the be all-end all, and the match has enough going for it outside of them for it to be a legitimately great match as opposed to ONLY being a Mick Foley attempted suicide stunt show. I might actually prefer their Submit or Surrender match from '91 to this ever so slightly, but both are great and very likely top 10 for Sting's career. Maybe Foley's, too.

WCW 1992 Project

Monday, 20 December 2010

Koji Kanemoto Kicks YOUR Teeth In

So I've been on a 'grumpy bastards in pro-wrestling' kick lately and was planning on writing about some Kanemoto matches along with a Tenryu match or two for the next TTIGDWT (That Time I Got Drunk With Tenryu), but I've watched four Kanemoto matches over the last couple days where he kicks the crap out of people and I figured that deserved its own post. Plus he managed to make a 2010 Naomuchi Marufuji match watchable, so that too.

Koji Kanemoto v Yoshihito Sasaki (Zero-One, 10/10/05)

Kanemoto is one of my favourite dickheaded asskickers ever. He's in his mid-forties now so that means he gets the Mid-Life Cantankerous Curmudgeon Badge that is a sure fire sign you'll see him kick people in the face on a regular basis. He's got a long way to go before he's in the TRULY Old Cantankerous Bastard club with the likes of Tenryu and Black Terry, but this is definitely something for the old CV. I'm guessing Sasaki hasn't started hanging around with Sekimoto yet because he doesn't look to be juiced out of his mind here. He has really weird "intense" facial expressions where he sticks his tongue way out of his mouth. Luckily this is all about Kanemoto INVADING and showing CONTEMPT and acting like a grade-A reprehensible fucker of a human being, so most of what Sasaki does is limited to hope spots and trying not to get his face caved in. Kanemoto is having none of that and just abuses him. I watched this on my PS3 and the slow-mo function that I never knew existed until last night - because I'm an idiot - is TOO fucking much because it must've took me half an hour to finish a ten minute match. Sasaki manages to spear Kanemoto early in the match, then when he tries it again later Kanemoto knees his teeth through the back of his head and I was leaning on rewind like a motherfucker and then I was leaning on slow-mo like a motherfucker. This was some nasty, nasty shit. Kanemoto turning it up to eleven by teeing off on Sasaki's face with straight punches and ignoring the ref's warnings is why he is the boss. Finish is suitably brutal. Match goes exactly 10 minutes and is probably one of my favourite ten minute or under matches ever.

Koji Kanemoto v Naomuchi Marufuji (New Japan, 3/5/10)

I wasn't entirely sure what to expect out of this. On the one hand it's a Marufuji match, and at this point Marufuji's pretty much horrendous and all of his matches have a large helping of bullshit. On the other hand it's a Kanemoto match, and at this point Kanemoto is maybe the best he's ever been and all of his matches have a large helping of him kicking people in the teeth. I don't think there's anything that could COMPLETELY offset Marufuji's suck, but Kanemoto as the home favourite that the crowd want to see stomp a pretty boy's face into the mat comes about as close as anything, I suppose. I was actually digging the first 8 or so minutes quite a bit. It seemed to be building to Kanemoto loosening Marufuji's jaw with a kick, so when he finally manages to hit it it comes off like a big spot. There's some leg work once Kanemoto takes control, and I knew where it was going as soon as it started (nowhere), but I got the sense Kanemoto was having more fun blistering Maru's thighs than anything else. I guess it still falls under "legwork", but the segment had enough moments where Koji would turn loose and punt him in the back of the head or slam him onto a bunch of chairs for it not to be by the numbers time-killing. Of course Marufuji then goes on offence and won't sell anything and it's all go-go-go as per usual, and that's where my interest takes a severe dip. Any time Kanemoto would get a run of offence things picked up, but Marufuji would regain control, bust out his goofy looking offence, and wouldn't sell a thing. And it goes thirty minutes, which doesn't help matters. Finishing stretch felt like a big Kurt Angle finishing stretch at points as well, and I don't care much for that. Match had its moments, like Kanemoto hanging Maru up in a tree of woe and casually sitting cross-legged in front him of so he could bitch slap him a bunch of times, but Marufuji is really bad and borderline uncarryable since he needs to get all of his shit in. And his shit is garbage that drags everything down. I'd probably say this is on the cusp of being "good," but unless Marufuji is a guy you can stomach or you're a big Kanemoto fan, don't bother.

Koji Kanemoto v Hayato Jr. Fujita (M-Pro, 12/22/09)

This is part of the Super J-Cup and is a terrific little match. Hayato is chock full of the fire that comes from being a chippy young underdog on his home turf and he refuses to let Kanemoto kick him six ways from Sunday. Match is just loaded with unhinged violence and stiffness and Hayato gives every bit as good as he gets -- there's a great moment where they're teeing off on each other out on the floor and Hayato actually manages to come out on top of the exchange by running along the apron and blasting Kanemoto in the sternum with a kick. Kanemoto sells it like he's just been on the receiving end of vehicular manslaughter. Crowd is totally rocking from start to finish and they're molten at the end. This also runs about 12 minutes, so they completely cut the nonsense and there's zero overkill and unnecessary bullshit. Short matches with dudes assaulting each other is definitely the most interesting thing to me in puro right now. Not surprising, then, that this and the Takayama/Sugiura match from 10/3 are my favourite matches from Japan from 2009.

Koji Kanemoto v Hayato Jr. Fujita (M-Pro, 5/30/10)

More of the same, this time from the BOSJ tourney. Seriously, this is just so far up my alley at this point that I'd be shocked if I come across a match from Japan this year that I enjoy nearly as much. Hayato is quite the lil' firecracker here again. I heard he controlled most of this, and I wasn't totally sure how I felt about that, but fuck, if I don't get to see Kanemoto abuse some indy kid then I guess THIS indy kid abusing KANEMOTO is as close as I'll come to having the same kind of fun. He's even more up for a fight than before, truly wellying Kanemoto with kicks that look like Roberto Carlos taking a free kick from 35 yards. He also does the same spot where he drills Koji in the chest with the running kick from the apron, and when he rolls him back in he starts peppering him with these amazing looking downward kicks to the back of the head and neck. Plus this has FACE PUNCHING which you gotta love. They're both fighting over a kneebar early on and Kanemoto punches Hayato in the face, so naturally Hayato punches him right back, and Kanemoto's expression is just too great. It's like he's shocked this kid has the audacity to return a PUNCH. Everything else is kosher, but a PUNCH? "Some skinny indy scrub thinks he can punch ME? Fuck THAT shit!" Then they get up and get in each other's face and start waffling each other in the nose some more. Totally dug the finish here too, with Hayato winding up for another of his Adam Vinatieri specials, Kanemoto countering it by kicking him in the knee and locking in his figure-four ankle lock. Sort of sudden, but in these two matches, Hayato managed to make the move look as legit as I can remember at any point in the last 10 years, so I'm not complaining. Great stuff. Kanemoto might be my favourite wrestler in the world right now.

Friday, 17 December 2010

That Time I Got Drunk With Tenryu #1

Trying something different. Well, not really different since I'm just gonna be talking about wrestling, which is what I've been doing since I started this thing, but this "project" has a cool name (which I didn't even come up with). I've talked about a fair bit of wrestling since I started this blog, but not as much Japanese wrestling/puro as I'd like. So I'm gonna try and watch at least 5 matches, at least once a week, and ramble about them here. Not exactly a groundbreaking idea, but fuck it, I never said I was creative. Most of it is just gonna be stuff that I've picked out at random as well. Anyways...

Jumbo Tsuruta, Akira Taue & Masa Fuchi v Mitsuharu Misawa, Toshiaki Kawada & Kenta Kobashi (All Japan, 1/24/92)

Great match, which is to be expected from these six, although one of the "weaker" 6-mans between these exact teams. But Hell, it goes about 45 minutes and it feels like it's done in half the time, and not too many matches that go that long fly by as "quickly" as this. First half is controlled mostly by Misawa and co. Jumbo and his army of grumps can only really carve out small advantages and momentum shifts, but most of their time is spent on the back foot. Kawada is particularly pissed off and just hates everybody. At one point he knocks Taue off the apron with an elbow smash and later Fuchi gives him one back, even pointing over at Taue as if to say "This is for my boy, bitch." Kawada then tries to knock his teeth out at several points for having the audacity to get in his face like that. Of course FUCHI backs down from no one and, well, everybody is smacking each other in the teeth is what I'm saying. Jumbo's boys finally take over after Misawa lands awkwardly on a plancha and Fuchi starts going to town on his knee. Jumbo Tsuruta as the puro equivalent of Harry Callahan is definitely my favourite period of his career. That 12/4/91 tag is just about my favourite tag match ever and a large part of that is down to Jumbo not being afraid to get deeply contemptuous towards this Misawa flunky and punching him right in the eye socket. The heat segment on Misawa here isn't as transcendently great as it was there, but you still walk away from this with the sense that Jumbo and his buddies hate Misawa and his buddies with the fire of a thousand suns and wouldn't lose an iota of sleep if they crippled one of them. Has there ever been a more lovable curmudgeon in wrestling history than Fuchi? Misawa cleans his fucking clock with a forearm before the hot tag and I dare you not to feel sorry for the poor guy. Sure, Fuchi spent the best part of ten minutes trying to rip Misawa's leg off, so it was totally justified, but I mean, C'MON MAN, LOOK AT THAT FACE. Finishing stretch is the kind of Hell on wheels stretch you expect at this point, and Kobashi in particular is willing to die for our sins. Post-match Jumbo's crew celebrate in the ring while Kobashi lays there dead. Gotta love that.

Jumbo Tsuruta & Akira Taue v Kenta Kobashi & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi (All Japan, 1/26/92)

Jumbo/Kikuchi exchanges are some of my favourite in wrestling history. Kikuchi as the spunky underdog that shows NO FEAR in smashing someone much higher on the food chain RIGHT in the fucking nose is pro-wrestling. Jumbo as the surly vet that goes TOTAL FUCKING ROMAN on the spunky underdog because spunky underdogs aught to learn their place is pro-wrestling. This match has numerous moments where Kikuchi gets chippy and Jumbo mows him down like an irate truck. This match is the motherfucking bizness. Starts out with Kobashi and Kikuchi going right at Jumbo and Taue, and that leads directly to them working over Taue. It's a good spell, but fuck all that because Taue tags in JUMBO and JUMBO fucking murders people. Especially Kikuchi. Kikuchi plays FIP at this point and it ROCKS so hard. Unfortunately it ends way too abruptly when they seem to fuck up one of the tag teases and wind up *actually* tagging, but while it lasts...this is some special ass-stompery. Way too many instances of acrimonious violence to note them all, but there's an atomic drop here that is so very spine-compressing that it hurt my own tailbone just to look at it. My favourite moment of the whole match might be the spot where Jumbo takes his foot off the gas ever so slightly and Kikuchi rails off and thumps him in the ear with a forearm, so Jumbo utterly lays waste to him with knee lifts that really need to be seen to be believed. I watched the Jericho/Juventud match from Superbrawl '98 not long before I watched this, and Jericho hits a knee lift in it that looked super nasty and violent. Jumbo hits about 5 in this and every one makes the Jericho one look almost pansy-like. Once Kikuchi makes the tag things don't really reach that lofty level of greatness again, but there are still plenty of moments where Kobashi and Kikuchi get a rush of blood to the head and do a drive-by elbowing of an apron-bound Jumbo and that results in Jumbo decimating a motherfucker so really, who can complain? The motherfucking bizness. That's what this match is.

Genichiro Tenryu & Nobutaka Araya v Tatsumi Fujinami & Shiro Koshinaka (New Japan, 3/26/96)

Oh man, this is the total Tenryu show and it is absolutely spectacular. He is just full to the brim with HATE and CONTEMPT for everything and everybody and I find myself watching this for the sole purpose of seeing those glorious moments where the rage becomes too much to contain and he bursts into a frenzy of blistering violence. Nobody is safe from it. He backhands Akitoshi Saito before the bell rings just for standing on the apron. Later he goes out to the floor to get at him some more and the fact he's outnumbered 5 to 1 doesn't bother him one bit. He even takes a second to chew out someone in the crowd or a commentator or something. I don't know anymore. I don't think anybody knows. I don't even think HE knows. Everything else could totally suck and this match would still own the universe because of Tenryu chopping people in the throat and hurling the toe of his boot in their eye. Actually, as a *match*, this *wasn't* amazing. It was good, but not the kind of thing that's likely to blow anybody away if you sub Tenryu out for... well, just about anyone else. I'm not really familiar with Araya, but a quick check tells me he's only in his 4th year as a pro here, which makes sense because I was getting a "rookie tries like a bear to hang with the vets but will always have to rely on his cantankerous partner for the heavy lifting" vibe when I watched it last night. You see a pretty great example of this when he tries to hit a hurricanrana off the top to Koshinaka and messes it up, so they improv by having Kosh go on offence and work him over some until Tenryu gets tagged in. He then cleans house in a whirlwind of stiffness and malevolence before taging his partner back in, and the "Do THAT, God dammit" look he gives Araya is tremendous. Koshinaka is a guy I was always sort of whatever on, then the New Japan 80s set kinda turned me off him big time, but this redeemed him in my eyes. He didn't necessarily do anything that'll stick out as being great if I try to remember anything about it a week from now, but he had a couple great exchanges with Tenryu. Right at the start Tenryu walks up to him on the apron and slaps him across the head, so when Tenryu's stepping out of the ring Kosh runs over and does that flying hip attack thing he does, and Tenryu's pissed to the gills and wants to rip his head off. Couple seconds later Tenryu runs along the apron just so he can enziguri him in the back of the head. Then when Tenryu gets in and they match up Tenryu's chopping him in the throat, and they have this punch exchange that is completely ridiculous. Definitely a match where one guy's individual performance is the drawing point as opposed to the actual match itself, but what a performance it is. Goodhelmet really needs to drop a Tenryu set yesterday.

Jinsei Shinzaki v Mr. Gannosuke (FMW, 4/21/98)

Oh man, this was fucking great and is probably a top 10 for the whole year for me. These two straight up do not like each other and spend about 15 minutes throwing bombs. First move of the match has Gannosuke hitting Shinzaki with his own powerbomb (the one where he does the praying motion beforehand... you know the one) from the apron, and Shinzaki takes a fucking hideous bump through a table on the floor, cracking his head on the concrete and presumably splitting the back of his head open hardway. Gannosuke goes to town on the cut with bits of broken table, stomps, etc. Great cut off spot by Gannosuke where he reels back and just punts Shinzaki in the balls. I love a good cut off spot, and a no nonsense forty yarder to some guy's nether regions is a heck of a good cut off spot. The revenge spot afterwards where Shinzaki blocks a German suplex by mule kicking Gannosuke in the balls right back was life affirming, man. I'm not exactly the biggest Hakushi fan in the world, but his out on his feet selling after the opening powerbomb was awesome. Then again, how much of it was a work is hard to tell given how nutso that bump actually was, but still. At this point they settle into a rhythm of white hot death where they devastate each other with stuff and it fucking rules -- Shinzaki hits the motherfucking damndest double stomp ever, like he's going for a Vader bomb out of the corner, but instead of splashing Gannosuke he just DRILLS him in the stomach with his feet. He hits this backflip kick square on Gannosuke's nose. Gannosuke launches Shinzaki off the apron through another table. There's an AMAZING lariat spot where Gannosuke refuses to go down, so Jinsei hits the ropes to his right and fucking RUINS him with a lariat to the side of the head. All of it fucking rocked. Of course after all of this you need a finish that some how tops it, and MAN do they top it. Gannosuke seems to love the idea of putting Shinzaki away with his own trademark powerbomb, which is where the opening craziness came from, and so he tries it again in the middle of the ring to put him down for good. Shinzaki is fed up with that noise and just punches Gannosuke dead in the face with a right hand that is so gloriously fuelled by a kind of hatred I don't recall seeing from Shinzaki any other time that I was leaning on rewind like a ridiculous motherfucker. Seriously, that kind of brusque violence as your final transition spot is EXACTLY the kind of thing I get all giddy for as a wrestling fan. Finish has Shinzaki busting out a sort of running Razor's Edge and this was just 12 kinds of manly. Eight million stars.

Shingo Takago v BxB Hulk (Dragon Gate, 12/26/05)

So last night I started going through a gazillion boxes worth of unwatched DVDs that I've managed to collect over the years, and I realised how much puro I have here that I haven't bothered to ever put in the DVD player. I'm talking, like, 150 discs of puro that I haven't watched. It also made me realise that I have entirely too much Dragon Gate footage. I'd be lucky if I could tell you anything that's gone on in the company over the last 3 years, and yet I have pretty much every episode of Infinity and every PPV from the beginning of 2005 through to the tail end of 2007. Why this is, I have no idea. Well, I was buying all this shit at a time where I was way less disdainful towards current Japanese wrestling and actually made a point of following it with some degree of regularity, so that'd be the "why"... but DRAGON GATE? New Japan and the likes, I can sort of understand, but I stopped following Dragon Gate long before the latest Dragon Gate DVD in my possession would suggest. Maybe I figured that even though I had come to seriously dislike that style, there might be some day where my tastes in puro would come full circle and it'd all be there for me to enjoy. Or maybe I was just an idiot that felt they aught to spend money on something they'll probably never watch. Either way, it's ALL there and there's around two years worth of Dragon Gate DVDs that have probably never been out of the sleeve. And so last night I decided I'd knuckle down and at least TRY and watch some Dragon Gate. I recalled the 2005 King of Gate tourney getting a bunch of praise from the big Dragon Gate fans. I'm pretty sure I was still at least semi-interested in this promotion in 2006, so I don't know why I never got around to watching their big December PPV from '05 (I'm pretty dedicated to watching stuff in chronological order like a hardcore dork). Maybe I skipped it. Maybe I forgot about it. Maybe I did watch it and I was just too drunk to remember anything about it. I don't know. But I came across it last night and I made an honest to goodness attempt at watching it and now that all the other bullshit is out of the way I can actually talk about this fucking match. Long story short it was way better than I was expecting. I can't stomach the tripe you get with most of Japanese wresting today, but if guys would put the kibosh on the main suck points and wrestle a compact little match like this that doesn't go overboard with a trillion nearfalls and shitty no-selling and awful strike exchanges that just seem to be there for the fuck of it, I'd no doubt manage to watch more than 3 matches a year. But of course I'm brought back down to Earth because I know that isn't gonna happen, and instead, shockingly, I'm left with THESE two to give me my fill. And what the fuck is that about? Hulk has God-awful facial expressions and there's one spot where he bounces up from a lariat and asks for more because he's full of FIGHTING SPIRIT and it all feels really sub-Tyler Black level crappy, but he's seriously not afraid to DIE on a lariat or get lit up by chops and forearms. They actually have one of the strike exchanges that I mentioned as being a suck point today, but I thought it was as fine as could be here because Hulk's forearms are so delicate that they make Shingo's look even more brutal in comparison. And Shingo's laying these bad boys in to begin with. Actually most of this is Shingo acting like a douchebag bully while Hulk makes hilarious faces and tries not to get his head caved in. I can deal with that dynamic. Especially great moment where Hulk wants to try some fancy shit from the top rope and I had visions of Shingo standing around for ages while Hulk gets his footing right, but to my pleasant surprise he wants none of that nonsense and just socks him with a lariat to the back of the head. Finishing stretch is short and at no point did I throw my hands in the air (unlike the following match. By the way, I never finished this show and I doubt I ever will. So there), and the spectacular lariat bump by Hulk really is a peach. This gave me hope that the rest of the show might be something I'd enjoy. The next match killed that idea cold, but fuck it, this was choice and totally above my expectations.

Yoshihiro Takayama v Takashi Sugiura (NOAH, 10/3/09)

How is Takayama not dead yet? The guy's had a stroke and has a face like someone stepped on wet putty and is a well-placed shoot punch away from being a vegetable. And here comes this match where he and Sugiura just punch and kick and knee each other a million times right in the fucking face. Match goes about 10 minutes but it is straight up wall to wall violence for the duration. Strike exchanges these days are pretty much always a low point in matches for me, but the strike exchanges in this had absolutely NO daylight whatsoever. Each one seemed to build on the one before it and got progressively nastier until the point where they're legit punching each other in the chops and Takayama fucking murderises Sugiura with the mother of knees square in the beak. And well you can't really top that so Takayama decides to spike him with a German suplex instead. "Manly" doesn't even begin to describe this one.

NEXT WEEK: who knows? Might actually use this as an excuse to try (again) and watch some of that Dragon Gate, but I don't reeeeealy like the sounds of that so I probably won't. I could see myself re-watching some of the DG I liked in the past... that doesn't sound as excruciating, at least. Not sure why I'm clinging to this "watch Dragon Gate" idea but whatever. Probably gonna be more Tenryu. Actually yes, there will be more Tenryu. More dudes hitting each other in the face real hard is pretty likely. Or not. I don't know. Fuck it, it's Christmas next week so you get Volk Han.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

DVDVR Texas Set, Disc 3

I'm gonna have to make one Hell of a run at this if I want to get it finished in time for the deadline, but I finished disc 3 earlier so... better late than never, right?

The Fabulous Freebirds v The Von Erichs (8/12/83)
- All of these six man tags are great, but I'll probably rank this pretty "low" since there's a few multi-man tags I prefer. Crowd is HAWT as fuck and David and Kevin take stints as FIP, although I would've liked to see Kevin stay in the role a little longer. Finish is cheapshotting greatness. The Freebirds' entrance is immense, btw. And Kevin's promo is as well: "This isn't a war between Georgia and Texas; this is war between DECENCY and FILTH!"

Terry Gordy & Jimmy Garvin v Kevin & David Von Erich (2/3 falls, 8/15/83)
- I've got this neck and neck with the 7/4 six-man as my working #2. Holy shit does this rule. These guys just HATE each other. Garvin and Kevin just came off a feud over the American Heavyweight title where Garvin cheated to win the belt, and before that Garvin had cheated David out of it as well. Gordy's a Freebird and he obviously hates both Kevin and David. Feeling's mutual of course. Kevin... my GOD Kevin fucking DESPISES everything. Dude is dropping insane kneedrops on Gordy's JAW, walking around and stomping the shit out of him, punching people in the face... HATE, I tell ya. Garvin's great as the chickenshit that's HAD ENOUGH of the Von Erichs' bullshit and he just wants to rip them apart. GORDY of all people is left trying to calm someone else down, so you know that Garvin's crazy out of control because, well, you gotta be to be more out of control than Gordy. Gordy and Garvin are so great at using the Von Erichs' hot headedness against them, drawing whoever is on the apron into the ring so they can double team the guy in the ring. This isn't your typical southern tag, which is a given right off the bat because it's 2/3 falls, but it's an awesome hybrid of a southern tag and a totally out of control FIGHT. If standard southern tag is point A to point B to point C (point A being the babyface shine, point B being the heat segent on the babyface, point C being the post-hot tag run to the finish), then this goes from point A to point B to point C, but stops in at a bunch of dingy diners and highway cafes on the road so they can TEAR IT THE FUCK UP because they're nuts and just want to fight and kill each other and and and... this was truly spectacular.

Jimmy Garvin v Chris Adams (8/26/83)
- This is structured as simply as possible, basically going from point A to point B to point C like I mentioned above, only this time in a singles setting. Nothing audacious in its layout or anything, but that kind of thing totally works for me and I love simple short matches like that. I didn't think this was quite as good as the Roberts/David match from disc 1 in terms of that kind of match, but it's real close. It's for Garvin's belt so there's a ten minute time limit and when he realises Adams has him on the ropes WAY more than he'd like, he continually tries to bail towards the end just to eat up the clock. In the end he winds up surviving, and surviving is all it is because he's SPENT. Adams is over huge and Garvin does an interview where he proclaims that he ain't doing this defending the belt on TV every week shit. Top stuff all around, and the fact this will probably finish somewhere in the middle of a 150 match ballot speaks crazy volumes about the quality of this set.

Terry Gordy v David Von Erich (2/3 falls, 9/5/83)
- I'll probably watch this again before I send in a ballot since it no doubt suffered from being my "ease my way back into the set" match after a 3 month break, and on top of that I wasn't really in much of a mood for wrestling last night when I watched it. That said, I still liked it a fair bit. They start off by beating the piss out of each other once Gordy jumps David while he's taking his jacket off, and the first fall is sort of built around quick-ish momentum shifts with David repeatedly getting tossed onto the announce table that's next to the ring. About 4 times he hurls himself onto it and the commentators have to scatter. He also takes a body slam on the concrete towards the end of the fall because pissed off Gordy is PISSED OFF, SON. Second fall is where Gordy busts out the ORIENTAL SPIKE and tries to kill David with it. I love carny shit like a guy's thumb being put over as a death move. David sells it really well into the third fall and is fighting an uphill battle from there. Things break down towards the end because Gordy hates everybody. Right now this is sitting in my bottom half, so I suspect I'm one of the low voters at this stage.

Kerry Von Erich v Michael Hayes (Country Whipping Match, 9/5/83)
- This happened prior to the previous match on the actual card, so it's technically *this* match where Gordy debuts the spike. He's Hayes' second here and Brody's the second for Kerry. Crowd is ridiculous; just a constantly huge level of heat all the time. Match only goes about 8 minutes, but I thought it was pretty awesome as far as short, intense fights go. I'm probably one of the few, but I didn't think it was any worse (or "less awesome") than the DiBiase/Duggan street fight on the Mid-South set which, IIRC, goes about the same length of time. Both guys really lay in some of the shots with the belt, particularly at the beginning and towards the end. At one point it looked like Hayes got fed up with Kerry being a house o' fire and just whipped him square in the face. Other times they're swinging so recklessly that they wind up getting hit in the face anyway, whether it's intentional or not. Post-match is crazy as shit and Brody bleeds everywhere. Also gotta love how everybody in World Class is "fabulous". The "fabulous Bruiser Brody", the "fabulous Von Erich brothers", the "fabulous Freebirds"; it's like that ring announcer guy only knows one adjective. This wasn't quite fabulous, but it's way up my alley, at least.

Fabulous Freebirds v The Von Erichs (9/5/83)
- Man, that 9/5/83 card was awesome. This was fucking great, and so far the only six man I prefer is the July '83 match that's sitting in my top 3. Gordy is KING sized in this, squashing Kerry with a flip senton, breaking his face with a NARSTY Yakuza kick, and bumping and flying all around the place for the Von Erichs' punches. At one point he hurls himself into the turnbuckle and flies out over the top Sgt. Slaughter style. Kerry and Kevin both take a turn at playing FIP, and both segments are really good, but really, the main selling point here is that it's just totally out of control and violent and these guys HATE each other. Freebirds cheat, Von Erichs storm the ring and our referee needs twelve hands to get things under control. He doesn't have twelve hands and it's NEVER under control. I could talk about a ton of great "little things", like David going to slap the claw on Buddy, realising he's wearing his headgear and that it won't work, and instead slapping it on his stomach, but it would take too long and HATE really aought to sell you on this anyway. TEXAS when I die, motherfucker.

Jimmy Garvin v Chris Adams (9/12/83)
- Second Garvin/Adams match on the set so far. If the first was a starter, this was a great main course, and I definitely prefer these two matches to the two Garvin had with David Von Erich a little earlier on the set. This is the tenth consecutive match in Adams' TV title reign, and if he wins or draws this, he wins five grand. Nifty little switch of roles from their last match where it was Garvin who was the American champion and would retain the belt with a win or a draw (this is a 15 minute time limit whereas that was 10). Much of the first ten minutes is spent on the mat. They don't bust out the kind of stuff Garvin and Kevin were busting out in their 2 matches, but it's all simple, solid stuff. Garvin spends most of it trying to cheat and shortcut his way into an advantage (with Sunshine's help -- Sunshine is the perfect conniving bitch valet, btw), but Adams always has an answer. Again, Adams doesn't have the same bag of tricks that Kevin has, but there's a cool spot where he has Garvin in a sort of Indian Deathlock and then splashes his legs like he's trying to tear both of Garvin's groin muscles. I enjoy Garvin best when he's begging off and getting frustrated fighting from the bottom on defence, so the first ten minutes breezed by for me. Last five minutes are where things really pick up as Garvin goes full throttle trying to score the win. Their last match had Garvin trying to survive Adams' onslaught, this one has Garvin throwing everything at Adams. The real big turning point is when Sunshine sweeps Adams' leg when he's on the top rope, crotching him (looked nasty). GREAT nearfall off of that, and the last couple minutes asks the question of whether Adams' can hold on until the bell. Garvin also has killer knee drops. Post-match is tops, too. Still prefer both matches Garvin had with Kevin, but this should be a lock for my top half.

David Von Erich, Iceman King Parsons & Chris Adams v Michael Hayes, Kamala & The Mongol (10/3/83)
- "KAMALA HAS GONE BONZO!" This was the Kamala show here, and what a show it was. He's really awesome in this as the "fish out of water" savage that doesn't understand the whole tag team dynamic, but who'll still eat you because he's a cannibal with totally bitchin' face paint. The tone is set early when Hayes slaps Kamala on the back to tag him in, but Kamala thinks Hayes is striking him and goes to tear him a new one. Kamala's "handlers" (Skandor Akbar and Friday, who is basically the same guy Vince had as Kim-Chee 10 years later) jump the ring to calm him down and try and explain how it was only a tag and that he and Hayes are buddies and shit. This leads to a bunch of spots where Kamala shakes Hayes' hand and pats him and stuff, effectively tagging him in, but Kamala still hasn't grasped this and winds up doing whatever he pleases anyway. Hayes of course gets more and more frustrated as the match goes on because he's partnered up with a couple of crazies. When Kamala eventually does get in the ring on his own - legally - the babyfaces start dropping like flies. This leads to an awesome moment where David gets in and he and Kamala start throwing bombs in the middle of the ring. Felt like a pretty huge moment and the crowd respond accordingly. Those two squaring off then becomes the central focus, and when David manages to slap on the claw it feels like an even bigger moment. Kamala sells really well, and when he bails to the floor with half of his face paint plastered onto the palm of David's claw hand the place goes nuts. From this point Kamala's much less eager to get into the ring, not quite scared of the claw but certainly weary, so the buck is then passed to Hayes and Mongol, but those two aren't jumping at the opportunity to get in there, either. Finish is sort of clusterfucked, but things have broken down into total chaos by that point anyway, so whatever. Not an amazing match or anything, but it's a bucket load of fun and Kamala's performance is one of my favourites on the set so far.

Harley Race v Iceman King Parsons (10/7/83)
- Man, the two matches Race has had on the set so far is about as much fun as I've ever had watching Harley ever. The Kevin match was fantastic, but I wasn't expecting this to be nearly as good. I'm happy to say that I enjoyed it almost as much. Race works this almost entirely from the bottom. I mean, he pretty much lets Iceman do whatever he wants. Even Flair would've tried to fit more offence in than Race does here. What he *does* fit in on offence might annoy some people, though. The two big instances of him rolling out something from his big book of moves are sort of forgotten a minute later. First is a piledriver that I expected to transition into Race going on offence, but Iceman is back on the offensive right after it. The second is more egregious. A fuckin' brainbuster on concrete really aught to at least lead to a count out nearfall (especially in a match where there's a couple GREAT countout nearfalls that are as good as any I've ever seen), but sure enough Iceman is back up on offence not long after it. That'll piss some people off to no end. But fuck it, Iceman is a shuckin' and jivin' black guy and shuckin' and jivin' black guys in pro-wrestling have rock hard heads and are impervious to headbutts and having their head rammed into inanimate objects and all that shit. And sure enough, every time Race tries to headbutt him or ram his head into an inanimate object, Iceman laughs at his bullshit and shows him how it's really done. Iceman's head is invincible and a piledriver and a brainbuster on concrete is nothing more than a monkey knuckle to that guy. Dusty finish is about as good as the one in the Kevin/Flair match, which is very good. Race hauling off and slapping David in the face because he knew he'd get the reaction he was looking for was fucking awesome. I've got this top ten so far.

Kerry Von Erich & Johnny Mantel v Terry Gordy & Buddy Roberts (10/17/83)
- Earlier in the show Kerry had given his brother Mike some jacket as a gift and Michael Hayes took it and tore it to shreds before launching him onto the concrete. Fast forward a little while and Kerry is major pissed off. People will either dig it or...not dig it, I guess. He's everywhere, animated as Hell, constantly trying to stomp a Freebird, and I don't recall one instant where he's actually standing still. It's a ten minute match, and as a result it's totally non-stop. Not non-stop in the same way tonnes of tags on the New Japan set were, where there never seemed to be any kind or structure or rhythm, but non-stop in that everybody is always doing something; usually it's the babyfaces whipping ass and the heels bumping and stooging. I like bumping and stooging. Gordy eats a big right hand and flies over the top rope at one point and it's glorious. Kerry cracks Buddy with a bunch of really potatoety looking punches to the point where I feel sorry for the poor guy. On the flipside, the babyfaces control almost all of this, and I could totally see someone thinking Kerry was too much of a coked up Superman for their liking. How much you like the match will probably depend on how much you're into Kerry's performance. I'll have it somewhere around the middle of the pack by the end. Probably.

Kevin Von Erich v Terry Gordy (10/21/83)
- Loved the first half of this. They work an extended bodyscissors spot that gave me a total Bob backlund vibe in the way they were always doing something with it. There's a particularly cool spot where Gordy breaks loose and runs the ropes to drop an elbow, but Kevin has his feet up ready to kick him away, so Gordy hits another set of ropes, then another, then another, stumbling and struggling to stay on his feet every time before eventually tumbling back into the bodyscissors. Second half is mostly Gordy-a-clubberin'. It's not as fun as the first half, but Gordy completely crushes Kevin with a boot to the face to take control that is just ridiculously nasty. I suspect I liked this more than most, although I wouldn't call it blowaway great or anything.

Jimmy Garvin v Chris Adams (10/24/83)
- My least favourite of the Garvin/Adams matches so far, but I still thought it was solid at worst. Garvin is the one being frustrated again and I really like him in that role. Adams seemed content enough to slap on a chin lock and not really do much of anything with it this time, though. Or maybe he was doing something and I just missed it, because I sort of tuned out for periods. Garvin's kneedrops ruled again. And Adams hits an amazing roundhouse kick to Garvin's temple as he's making his comeback that was definite rewind material. Won't finish terribly high...maybe bottom third.

Jimmy Garvin v Johnny Mantel (10/31/83)
- Ehhhh, wasn't feeling this much at all. Most of it was spent in holds, but they weren't really worked very well. Just sort of pedestrian and static. One thing it did have was a nice finish, and the post-match angle was tops. But this won't go high.

Kerry Von Erich & Chris Adams v Jimmy Garvin & Michael Hayes (10/31/83)
- Kinda struggled to get into this at points, but when it got good I was really digging it. All four are great at showing contempt for the guy they dislike most, though. Kerry and Hayes just despise each other, and Hayes giving as good as he gets while sprinkling in some amazing stooging has been one of my favourite things on the set. He takes two great Flair-esque flops in this, the first being totally spectacular. Heels take over once Kerry misses on a knee drop and does this awesome sell of it. It's not something I feel like I can do justice to with words, but it's really terrific. Hayes and Garvin go to town on it, naturally. Finishing run is hectic and the post-match is aces. PEPPER SPRAY, BITCH.

Kerry & Kevin Von Erich v Michael Hayes & Terry Gordy (Country Whipping Match, 11/4/83)
- Oh man, these guys just completely lay it the fuck in with those belt shots. I mean they are seriously tearing hide here. Match goes about 9 minutes and is ridiculously stiff and heated. Tonnes of great moments, but my favourite has to be Kerry getting the hot tag and jumping in swinging two leather straps like nun-chucks. Gordy getting fed up with Kevin not selling enough and MAKING him sell was great as well. Kevin must've been lashed in the ear five times with a strap. This was great.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

So I Guess We Can Just Call This WCW Month?

Lord Steven Regal v Johnny B. Badd (Main Event, 10/10/93)

This was way niftier than I was expecting. Badd is way more fun controlling things early than I was expecting. Regal acts like Regal, which I was expecting. I dig how he's a dude that is never afraid to rough you up if things aren't going his way, or how he'll drag you into the corner and plaster you with forearms in between batches of grinding things out on the mat. Badd has a bunch of cool counters and escapes for Regal's holds early and has really sweet armdrags, plus he's all "YEAH, BABY! HERE WE GO!" and the crowd are behind him like I like to see. Regal saying "fuck this nonsense" and elbowing him in the gut to take control was great. I'm a big fan of the Regal TV Title formula where he'll take his time and just grind you down. If it goes the distance then he keeps the belt, so at some point in the match the opponent will usually have to really push things or else they come away with nothing, and by extension that means we get to see "put it in the deep freeze" Regal where he'll just try and survive until the time runs out. This one does go to the time limit and Badd's flurry at the end is pretty choice. I was hardly expecting this to be a crappy match, but I was still surprised by how much I dug it.

Lord Steven Regal v Davey Boy Smith (Halloween Havoc, 10/24/93)

First 6 or 7 minutes of this are a blast. Davey had that awesome World of Sport match with Finlay on Goodhelmet's Finlay comp where he was busting out all the tricked out Euro style matwork, so I was psyched at the prospect of more of the same here, because I could count on one hand the number of instances I've enjoyed watching Davey more than the match opposite Finlay. It's not like I hate Davey or anything; just that I reeeealy dug that WoS match. Matwork isn't as great here as it was in the Finlay match, but they have plenty of cool exchanges. Regal seems bewildered at a few points because he's come into this expecting Davey to be a muscled up freak that shouldn't bring too much in the way of out-wrestling the Lord. Problem is, Davey brings plenty. He'll flip out of an armbar, cartwheel out of an arm-wringer, and there's a great spot where Regal keeps trying to snapmare him only for Davey to reverse it into a hammerlock every time, eventually forcing Regal to go to the ropes. That's pretty much the final straw, so Regal goes to his plan B of blasting this Whoopi Goldberg looking motherfucker with European uppercuts and digs to the ribs. Regal basically spends the rest of the match grinding him down and working the ribs, until the last minute or so when Davey gets his second wind. Actually thought Badd was better at showing urgency and selling the previous beatdown better than Davey was, but I thought this had a better "one second too late" finish. I'd say this is the better match overall, though. Aaaand it was good.

Lord Steven Regal v Johnny B. Badd (Clash of the Champions XXV, 11/10/93)

Maybe I've just been selling Mero short for the last ten years, but I thought this was a totally bossy little match. They had a match on Worldwide 4 days earlier (that I would've talked about if I could remember enough about it to actually warrant a "review") that ended with Regal scraping a win by pulling the tights, so this is Badd's chance for some payback after being robbed by this scoundrel. Regal is a stuck up prick that won't even lock up because he doesn't want to be a victim of second hand body oil or something, so instead he slaps him GOOFY in the first five seconds. Badd was all "OH MOTHRFUCKER YOU GON' DIE NOW," but then settles down and starts working a headlock. At this point I was ready to wash my hands on the whole thing. "He just fucking SLAPPED you. HIT HIM. He won't mind. It's fuckin' REGAL there, Johnny. PUNCH HIM IN THE FUCKING FACE." Unfortunately didn't happen (just you fuckin' wait, though), but I was able to regain my composure when they started working in and out of a headlock. Badd was great here, just a ton of fun. Regal was as good as you'd expect once he took over, but I actually preferred the Badd working the headlock. Short finishing stretch here is good as well, and definitely had my favourite "babyface pulling out all the stops as the time limit is winding down" spell of the three matches. Actual finish is awesome as Badd FINALLY SMACKS REGAL RIGHT IN THE FUCKING FACE with a huge haymaker, looks to have KO'd him (I bought it as being legit for a few seconds), but Sir William puts Regal's foot on the ropes before the ref' counts three. Badd is pissed and chews him out, but Regal's playing possum and rolls him up with a chunk of tights for the win. Much better than I expected, and this is after seeing their first match that I thought was good in its own right, so naturally I expected this to follow suit. Although I'm probably overrating it on account of the fact they got me hook, line and sinker with that big revenge punch that they waited the whole match to deliver on. I marked hard for that shit.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Some More 1997 WCW. Fuckin' EDDIE

Eddy Guerrero v Dean Malenko (Inglewood, CA, 6/28/97)

Yeah, these two together are infinitely more enjoyable to me when they drop the whole SPIRIT OF COMPETITION~ deal and one of them acts like a little douchenozzle instead. The Uncensored match had Eddy starting to embrace his inner-scumbag. That was in March and this is June, and by this point he's a fully-fledged slimeball. I love weasly little dickweeds in my pro-wrestling and Eddy is a spectacular weasly little dickweed here. Taunting, begging off, stalling, back-pedalling, cheating; the whole shebang. This being a handheld means that you get to see him really milking stuff like grabbing the ropes for leverage on holds or working the ref' into positions so that he can't see a fly hair pull or choke. I generally don’t like handhelds very much since I seem to have a problem concentrating (the reason for which is still a mystery to me), but they do let you see things that you normally wouldn't on TV, and Eddy playing to the back row is something I can definitely get behind. I'm not a Malenko fan by any stretch of the imagination, but seeing him work as a straight up babyface that's basically eschewing all of the lengthy control segments is making me even less excited about going back to those Malenko/Mysterio matches where he spends an hour doing limb-work that winds up being totally pointless, because I can actually enjoy him as the former. He does work Eddy's leg for a few minutes in this, but before long he's back to being the recipient of weasel boy's dirty tricks. Also like how Eddy decides to work Dean's leg as a receipt of sorts once he gets back in control. Reminded me of the Kerry Von Erich/Michael Hayes match on the Texas set, although this felt more like an "anything you can do I'll go ahead and do better because I'm a dick like that" thing than Kerry doing it because Hayes is the bane of his existence. Unfortunately it's a theme that's dropped after a few minutes, but I'm less annoyed by three or four minutes of leg work from two guys combined going nowhere than eight or nine minutes from one guy going nowhere. Plus Malenko hits this awesome leg whip and busts out a super fast kneebar in this and I was leaning on rewind like a motherfucker. Think I just prefer their Uncensored match, but this is RIGHT there and I'll be damned but I'm actually looking forward to the next Eddy/Malenko match on the set. And it's a fuggin' handheld. What next?

Juventud Guerrera, Lizmark Jr. & Hector Garza v La Parka, Psicosis & Villano IV (Bash at the Beach, 7/13/97)

Ridiculous spotfest. First couple minutes has guys pairing off like a traditional Lucha trios match, but before long they ditch that and just run through a shit ton of highspots. Way too much to mention all of it, but the spot where the technicos do a stereo suicide dive and Mark Curtis just curls up in the corner with his hands on his head is awesome. Psicosis also murderises Juventud with this powerbomb thing off the top rope that is just fucking ludicrous. The dive train towards the end is tres cool and Juventud's spot is... well, words don't do this thing justice. Juvi should challenge Keith Richards to a coke-snorting contest. Can you call something that has no transitions or structure in the slightest a good match? It's totally insane and it's something I'd probably hate if I never knew what to expect to begin with. Some people will probably still hate it. Pretty much the definition of a "popcorn" match. If this was a Kurt Angle, Kurt Angle & Kurt Angle v Davey Richards, Davey Richards & Davey Richards match and they wrestled it the exact same as these 6 guys I'd shit all over it. Good job I have no problem being a hypocrite in this instance.

Eddy Guerrero v Chavo Guerrero Jr. (Nitro, 7/14/97)

Eddy's dropped the singlet here and has 100% completed the transformation to total bare-chested, pornstached scumbaggery that I remember from my childhood. He's also invested in a white bandana that you might not think would make a HUGE difference to one's cretinous aura, but trust me, it SO fucking does. The previous week it seems Eddy had ditched Chavo during a tag match and left him to be the victim of Scott Norton's pro-wrestling snuff film, all in an effort to toughen him up. This doesn't sit well with Chavo, so this week Eddy plans on toughening him up himself. Nice little match, the story being Chavo hanging tough (pun?) and getting more than his expected share of licks in while Uncle Scumbag comes to realise he shouldnt be taking his nephew so lightly. Eddy getting fed up with the pissing about and just shredding Chavo's chest with chops is a sight to see. Not their best match together, but this was short and sweet.

Friday, 10 December 2010

More 1997 WCW - Savage/Page x2 & Guerrero/Malenko

Eddy Guerrero v Dean Malenko (Uncensored, 3/16/97)

I need to watch their Starrcade match again, but this might be my favourite match these two had together. There’s some stuff in it that I wasn’t really fan of, like how they weren’t sure whether they wanted to run with the idea that Eddy’s shoulder might be hurt, and from time to time they’d just kinda bust out some random stuff, but on the whole I thought it was great and there was far more to like than complain about. There’s also a chunk of leg work that doesn’t really pay off, but they move away from it fine and it’s not like it was dropped in a lazy sort of way, so I didn’t mind at all. Coming in these two had kinda been at each other’s throat, so the vibe is much different from any of their ECW matches, which I’m thankful for since I don’t particularly like those “Eddy Guerrero v Dean Malenko: The Spirit of Competition” matches. Eddy slaps on a headlock at the beginning and I’m wondering if I was overestimating how much they’re supposed to be pissed at each other, but then he starts giving him a bunch of awesome little rabbit punches and that leads to both guys stomping mudholes in the other, which is spectacular if for no other reason than Dusty’s “mudhole stomper/mudhole stompee” ramble. And, naturally, I smile. This crowd is not a pro-Guerrero crowd. They’re all for Malenko, and while neither guy wrestles this much like a babyface, the match sort of becomes a story of Eddy getting totally fed up with being made out to be the root of Dean’s problems and descending further into pissed off dickhood as the match progresses. Crowd doesn’t want to cheer him so he won’t go out of his way to be cheered. Crowd have kinda been apathetic towards him ever since he came to WCW so why should he bother trying to be someone they can get behind? Someone’s “devolution” is one of my favourite in-match stories in pro-wrestling, and while this isn’t on the level of Austin’s complete reversion to paranoid sociopath that’s obsessed with the WWF title, it’s still a really fucking good character performance from Guerrero. It’s not a full heel turn, and there are still signs that he hasn’t completely embraced his douchebag side (putting Malenko in a figure-four and briefly grabbing the ropes before letting go because he's not quite a cheating scumbag yet), but the ball is most definitely rolling. More screwy nWo shit at the end, but it’s all leading to Eddy finally snapping at some point, so I can deal. Did Syxx actually do anything other than steal belts in WCW, btw? He just kinda bounces around like a thieving coke head looking for shit to knock.

Randy Savage v Diamond Dallas Page (Street Fight - Spring Stampede, 4/6/97)

Man, Savage is awesome here as an out of control headcase. Before he’s even in the ring he spots some little girl at ringside, turns and faces her and flexes his bicep, then he starts out stalling by jumping out of the ring and heading up the aisle, refusing to let the match start unless it’s on his own terms. From there he basically slips further and further into insanity, and by the end he’s bitch-slapping ring announcers and ready to take a swing at Michael Buffer. First few minutes of the match are okay, but once Savage takes over things pick up big. I remember thinking this was the weakest of the 3 Savage/Page PPV matches that year, and watching it again I’d say that’s still the case, but the middle portion is really good. I liked Page quite a bit in this as well. He’s got some really good hope spots and at one point he takes an amazing clothesline bump that lands him right on his neck. Good finish as well, and the Diamond Cutter is just ridiculously over. Post-match has more Savage insanity as he’s got a hold of Kimberly, and his crazy man eyes when Bischoff restrains him are tremendous. Also, does Kenny Powers wish he was Nick Patrick or what?

Randy Savage v Diamond Dallas Page (Falls Count Anywhere - Great American Bash, 6/15/97)

I might have liked this even more than Benoit/Sullivan from the previous year. Savage is fucking out of his mind again, piledriving referees, threatening to hit Kimberly, beating the shit out of camera men; the whole nine yards. At one point he’s taking the bandages off of Page’s ribs and Mickie Jay tries to restrain him, so Savage spits in his face, piledrives him and rips his shirt open. Mark Curtis then hits the scene and Savage decks him and tosses him like a sack of trash. A little later some guy takes his picture so he smashes his camera and tries to choke him out. Page is over like crazy again. There’s a great moment where Savage is beating on him in the corner (think this is directly after he’s assaulted Mark Curtis) and Page just grabs hold of him, tosses HIM in the corner and lets loose with rights and lefts while the crowd completely lose it. The Diamond Cutter might have been the most over move in the company at the time as well. Just crazy pops for it every time. Start of this is different from the last match – this time Page comes out from the crowd and jumps Savage, and he’s generally much more aggressive during the whole opening period, which is much better here than it was at Spring Stampede. Page also does a good job selling the ribs the whole way through, and they come up with a few cool spots with them as the focus. The parts where they decide to go for a wander and fight in a different part of the arena are really good in this as well. First they head up towards the stands and Page grabs some plunder (“He gettin’ some plunder now.” – Dusty) to beat on Savage with, then later they wind up at the VIP section and Dusty’s all “GIT THE BARBEQUE PIT! BEHIND YA! BEHIIIIND YA!” and sure enough Page gets the barbeque pit and slams him through a picnic table. Finish has your nWo shenanigans, but whatever. Really dug this.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

"Dey Be Gettin' Plunder, Toneh!"

Chris Benoit v Eddy Guerrero (Nitro, 10/16/95)

I watched so many Eddy/Benoit matches last year that I struggle to differentiate between them all. This is the one that always sticks out, though. It's on Benoit's Hard Knocks DVD, so I think that makes it their only WCW match to get the WWE DVD treatment (and will very likely stay that way), but other than that, it's THAT powerbomb that I'll never forget. I mentioned Meng's MURDEROUS powerbomb on Eddy yesterday, but this one is even more ridiculously nasty. Match goes about 8 minutes and is probably the perfect "Nitro Style" match; they fit plenty of nifty stuff in, both guys get to bust out their spots, etc. There aren't as many momentum shifts here either, so Benoit gets a nice "run" on offence while Eddy sells the arm. Finish pays off the arm work as well, and this is just really good stuff. Gonna go back and watch the rest of their matches at some point, I think.

Chris Benoit v Kevin Sullivan (Falls Count Anywhere - Great American Bash, 6/16/96)

Okay so I don't know the exact story between these two, but I know there was some real-life drama that had something to do with Nancy and, I think, an affair with Chris. Never really bothered to look into it so I'm not gonna bother talking about it here when it all boils down to these two HATING each other, anyway. I mean this is serious hatred. Sullivan is a guy that I've never really payed much attention to as a worker other than that appearance on the Memphis set and, of course, this feud with Benoit. But I watched two matches vs. Benoit last night and I came away thinking "Man, that guy is great at going to the eyes." Eye gouges, eye pokes, eye rakes, it all looks real nasty. It's probably because he's tossed the "working" aspect out the window and he's really trying to gouge Benoit's eye out, but still. At one point there's a close up of him sticking a thumb in his eye and there's nothing half-assed about this. Looks like he's really trying to get it in there and spoon out the eyeball. I'll choose to read this as him going the extra mile to make it look real since they in amongst the crowd and everything. I'd be wrong, but it won't be the first time. There's basically tonnes of instances of Sullivan doing shit - not limited to going for the eyes - that one could choose to read as him being an unprofessional douche. But then again Benoit is banging his wife. Is he? I don't know. Benoit goes along with it all and seems harrowingly willing to take as hideous a beating as Sullivan wants to give him, and from time to time he'll decide to give it right back. It's probably also the definitive "Dusty spazzes out on commentary" show as he is just totally hilarious at several points. Starts out with Benoit clotheslining Sullivan right in the face as Sullivan's making his way towards the ring, and then they just start punching the crap out of each other. Before long (like, a minute) they're in the crowd and heading up the steps. There's no "I'll grab your hair and walk you wherever I want to take you while you do nothing about it" bullshit like you see in Japan all the time these days; they're punching each other in the face and FIGHTING their way up the step. Then they wind up in the bathroom. Benoit really takes a horrendous beating. Sullivan eats a shot off a cubicle door and kinda gets thrown into a wall, but Benoit's taking full throttle shots to the head with a cubicle door, getting launched into walls and repeatedly having his eyes poked and gouged at. Dusty drops this corker: "Taskmaster is in his element, right here in the john, if you will, right here in Baltimore, Maryland." Six stars. Then Sullivan tries to stick Benoit's head in a urinal and we get the classic "HEAD FIRST IN THE COMMODE!" line from Schiavone. Any other time and that's bound to be the line of the night, but a few seconds later Dusty spies some woman and he completely flips. "THERE'TH A LADEH! THERE'TH A LADEH IN THE MEN'TH BATHROOM! RIGHT HERE! THERE ITH A LADEH IN THE MEN'TH JOHN RIGHT HERE IN BALTIMOW. *silence...silence* CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT?! SHE DONE STOPPED AWF! SHE GOT TO GET SOME RELIEF HERE, BABEH!" A million trillion stars. Back outside the bathroom they have this incredible fist fight and Sullivan is just railing off and cracking Benoit with total barfight punches right to the eye. There was one flurry that would've made Tenryu hot under the collar. This is also where they start fighting over a garbage can and Dusty's off and running about plunder. "Dey be gettin' plunder, Toneh." We're more than half way through the match at this point and you could start an honest to goodness drinking game for every time Dusty says plunder. Back down the stairs they go and Sullivan just heaves Benoit down the steps. Twice. "Boy you tawk about bad intentions in two guys' eyeballth." First time looks nasty enough, but the second time is borderline ridiculous. I mean Sullivan clearly does not give a shit. Then he goes ahead and stomps flush on Benoit's dick, just because. Dusty - "Well, uh... might'been a little low." They've really beat the piss out of each other by the time they make it back to ringside, but what's great is that they haven't once bothered to attempt a pin. And they're still hucking chairs and crotching the other on the guard rail right up until Benoit brings a table out from under the ring. "We got sut'm comin' out right here. Goin' for plunder. There's no plunder sayfe!" And then Benoit throws his plunder at Sullivan's head. Benoit sets the table up across the top turnbuckle and Dusty's all "He's tryin'a get his plunder right, nah mean?" Finish is basically a superplex from a raised platform, but even that move looks way more nasty than usual. Post-match Benoit continues the beating and Arn Anderson hits the scene. They've been teasing Arn turning on the Horsemen and joining the Dungeon of Doom for a little while and the crowd doesn't know what to make of it when Arn grabs his stable mate and tosses him off of Sullivan. Crowd thinks he's with Sullivan and Hart... then he punts Sullivan in the ribs and the crowd POPS. "This place is gone crazeh! Somebody git mah medicine." Mine too, Dream. Mine too.

Chris Benoit v Kevin Sullivan (Falls Count Anywhere - Nitro, 1/20/97)

Similar to the last match, although I definitely didn't think it was on that level. They go up to the bathroom again and this time the camera man can barely follow it because there's a mob at every entrance or exit. I mean people are just losing it. Nancy follows them this time and she's ready to assault someone with a high heel because even SHE can't get through. Camera man winds up getting stuck in amongst a crowd of rabid fans and it looks like one of those POV scenes from a zombie flick. Great moment in the bathroom where Doug Dillinger (HEAD OF SECURITY) tries to break it up and Benoit just hurls him into a urinal. Finish looks suitably nasty as well. Pretty much a weaker version of the last Falls Count Anywhere match with a different finish, but I don't recall any match in this feud that wasn't at least fun, and this is no different. Needed Dusty on commentary, though.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Big Batch Of WCW

Arn Anderson v Great Muta (Power Hour, 1/12/90)

This is probably my favourite Muta match. It's also one of my favourite Arn matches, and there are a lot of Arn matches that I love a heck of a lot. Arn is the one getting the upper hand in the early stages causing Muta to take a powder after every exchange, so Buzz Sawyer hits the ring to play offensive coordinator and, well, Buzz Sawyer as your maniacal offensive coordinator for the evening is something there needs to be more of. Ross and Cornette on commentary start talking about how he's trying to instill a little Sawyerism into him, and sure enough Muta spin kicks Arn in the sternum really hard and takes over. He busts out a Cattle Mutilation at one point and it really takes me back to when a wrestler would bust out a cooky submission hold that the commentators haven't seen before and they refer to it as "that Oriental submission move" or a "submission move they learned in the Orient". Oriental submission moves were always the most dangerous. Love the swerve at the finish as well, with Arn eating a major cheapshot behind the ref's back, still kicking out ("AW YEAH!" - JR) and even managing to hit the DDT for the win and the TV Title. Definitely one of the best WCW TV matches of the year.

Scott Steiner v Bobby Eaton (Power Hour, 9/21/90)

This is the first match in Scott Steiner's gauntlet challenge. Eaton seems pretty happy to fly around for all of Scott's power stuff here, bumping all over the place and taking a running clothesline while he's sitting on the top rope that could've ended disastrously for the guy had he not managed to hold on. Match goes about 8 minutes and is as solid as you'd expect, but not anything I'd vote for in a top 100.

Scott Steiner v Ric Flair (World Championship Wrestling, 9/22/90)

Match #2 and probably my slight favourite of the three match series. Flair basically gives Steiner everything and it's one of those "Flair going out of his way to make the opponent look deadly" performances that you've seen countless times out of Ric. Flair's offensive flurries are basically limited to a few punches in bunches and a chop here and there, while the rest of his time is spent flying around and getting launched into stuff. Arn's out at ringside to run distractions and cheapshots, and there's a really good nearfall at one point as a result. Then Rick Steiner evens it up, takes Flair's head off with a monster Steinerline and Scotty moves on to match #3 against Double A.

Scott Steiner v Arn Anderson (Main Event, 9/23/90)

Actually this might be my favourite. I'm a big fan of the "Flair Show" where he can do what he's done for years and years and make a ten minute TV match out of it, but this has Arn being Arn and bringing all the shtick an Arn fan like me wants to see. He's too smart for his opponent, he's one step ahead, he's got it all figured out, then he's flat on his ass checking to see if he still has all his teeth. Like the last two matches, Scott controls most of this and gets to toss someone around, but Arn's as willing to make him look as good as Flair and Eaton are, plus I can't think of too any people that I would want to watch go out and make someone look good more than Arn. Actually did Scott ever wrestle Fuerza Guerrera? That would've been spectacular. Finish is pretty weak, but I can deal. All 3 of these gauntlet matches are good; not good enough that I'd expect anyone to vote for them in a top 100, but worth your time for sure.

Sting v Cactus Jack (Submit or Surrender - Power Hour, 11/16/91)

Last time I watched this I thought it was right there with their Beach Blast '92 match (Falls Count Anywhere on the Gulf Coast is a tremendous name for a gimmick match). Not sure I'd think the same once I get around to watching the Beach Blast match again, but this is still a great brawl that probably fits into the "hidden gem" category on account of the fact it never gets talked about. Sting's good in his role, hits his stuff well, and generally puts forth a performance that you can't complain about, but it's Cactus that's the star here. He comes across as a total lunatic at points, squealing like a nutter, laying into Sting with garbage cans and chairs, throwing him into the barricade, etc. The transition into his control segment is one of my favourite ever, as Sting hits the ropes and tries to leapfrog him, so Cactus waits until he's at the height of his jump and just headbutts him right in the nads. Some guy in the crowd even tries to wrestle a folding chair away from him so he can't use it to plaster Sting with, but Cactus winds up with it anyway and obviously wraps it around his dome. Then he shows his appreciation by giving the chair a big kiss. Finish has Foley taking a disgusting flat back bump off the apron that almost completely overshoots the mats and has him landing on the concrete itself, smacking the back of his head off the guardrail while he's at it. There's a lady in the front row that appears to be on the verge of throwing up at this point. Sting follows up with the Scorpion Deathlock, but Foley's out like a light so it's all pretty academic at that point, anyway. This is on youtube and people really aught to give it a look.

Chris Benoit v Brad Armstrong (Clash of the Champions XXII, 1/13/93)

This is a really bossy sub-ten minute match. I'm all about the bossy sub-ten minute matches. Not entirely sure but I think this is Benoit's first singles match where the big boys play. He comes out at the start and nobody really knows who he is and it's all pretty quiet, but by the end people are popping big for his stuff, especially Jesse on commentary. It starts out with a slick sequence that ends with Benoit casually sidestepping a dropkick and looking like a smug douche. Then for the next few minutes Armstrong schools him with a bunch of dropkicks and some nifty arm work. Eventually Benoit just says fuck it and front suplexes him onto the top rope, and then he hits one of the best looking slingshot clotheslines I've ever seen. Jesse is marking hard and I'm hitting rewind like a motherfucker. I had seen this match a while back when I got a hold of it on one of the Schneider Comps, and THAT clothesline was the spot that stuck out to me. It also starts the shift in fan support, and by the time he crushes Brad with a dragon suplex for the finish he's practically been turned babyface. Top stuff.

Eddy Guerrero v Syxx (Ladder Match, Souled Out, 1/25/97)

So I got to this match on Goodhelmet's Eddie set and I seemed to recall reading Eddie's book and him saying that it was basically a train wreck of suck. So I was sort of dreading watching it. Today I decided to man up and just get through it, and whether my expectations were just so low or Eddie was being too hard on it, I'm not sure... but I thought it was actively good. Bischoff's a blithering idiot on commentary from time to time so I wound up muting it about half way through, and the finish is pretty garbage, but considering I generally don't much care for ladder matches anymore, this was really easy to sit through. Syxx winds up getting cracked in the face with the ladder Joey Mercury style at one point and it looked pretty nasty. Obviously not as horrifically face-deforming as the one Matthews ate, but still, nasty is nasty all the same. Syxx also hits a crazy fly kick right to Eddy's head when they're both at the top of the ladder, although that doesn't have anything on the roundhouse kick square to the face right at the beginning. Crowd pop huge for the finish as well (I had un-muted it by this point), which I wasn't expecting considering how apathetic crowds seemed to be towards Eddy as a babyface since showing up in the company.

Eddy Guerrero v Dean Malenko (Nitro, 2/10/97)

Total sprint. Only about 6 minutes long, but I'd still rather watch this than any of their ECW matches. They actually manage to cram a bunch on stuff into that 6 minutes, but it had a real sense of urgency to it and I never felt like I was watching two guys run through a bunch of cool looking spots and sequences just to eat up time. Even the stand-offs didn't strike me as corny. And hey, no indy roll-up section, which might be a first in a Guerrero/Malenko match (although I think they tried it once and flubbed it... that actually makes me like it even more). Syxx hitting the ring and doing whatever that coke head does stopped this short, but what we got was definitely good stuff.

Eddy Guerrero v Chris Jericho (Superbrawl, 2/23/97)

Eh, didn't think much of this at all. I'm a HYUGE fan of their Fall Brawl match later in the year, but this just felt like Eddy told Jericho to run through as much cool shit as he could think of and they'd throw a random stand-off in there just to add to my displeasure. Granted, Jericho's cool shit was indeed cool, but they pretty much eschewed any kind of structure and the crowd was dead as shit and, and... not my thing. Jericho does slap the fucking TASTE out of Eddy's mouth at one point, though. Looked like he went to throw one of his overhand chops and completely missed the target (target being the chest). Maybe someone flashed a camera. Either way Eddy murders him with a powerbomb a short time later and all is right again. Fall Brawl is where it's at, Hell with this noise.

Eddy Guerrero & Chris Jericho v The Faces of Fear (Nitro, 2/24/97)

Aw fuck this was BOSS. I could watch 8 minute tag matches like this all damn year and not get bored. Meng and Barbarian are totally awesome big motherfuckers that will toss you around like you weigh 12 pounds, and Eddy and Jericho are totally awesome small motherfuckers that will happily BE tossed around like they're 12 pounds. Couple amazing spots in this, the best of which probably being Meng's MURDEROUS powerbomb on Eddy. Actually fuck that, it's Barbarian's MURDEROUSER back suplex on Jericho. Someone tell me there's a Faces of Fear comp out there. Please. Eddy and Chris are great as the underdogs having to hit hard and hit fast, double teaming when they can, striking in flurries, but it's their willingness to be welded onto the mat that's particularly special. Malenko's run-in at the finish (they mention something about Eddy accidentally costing him the cruiserweight belt the night before) has me hyped to see the Eddy/Dean Uncensored match again, too. Last time I was hyped about seeing a Guerrero/Malenko match? Fuck if I know. I do know this rocked my socks, though.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Jerry Saggs Eats A MOTHERFUCKIN' Hockey Stick

Nasty Boys v Cactus Jack & Kevin Sullivan (Falls Count Anywhere Match -Slamboree, 5/22/94)

Well this is just wild. I'm a huge fan of the Spring Stampede match from the previous month where Maxx Payne is Foley's partner in place of Sullivan, and while this one isn't quite as good, it's still totally nuts. The Spring Stampede match is a street fight so there's sort of a mainstream ECW feel to it that I don't recall from any other WCW or WWF match up to that point. This doesn't have the pool cues and the shovels and concession stand that the April match had, but they compensate by punching each other in the face all up and down and under the ramp and in and out and around the ring. There's one awesome table spot and they make the best use of a trash can I think I've ever seen (they use ONE trash can the entire match and by the end it's been flattened so much it's sharp enough to cut open Foley's eye), plus Saggs steals some guy in the crowd's camera and whacks Cactus with it a bunch of times, but for the most part they're using fists and boots and their own body. Actually Saggs get smacked with a hockey stick at the end too. Forgot about that. He also gets potatoed HARD by Philadelphia Flyers' legend David Schultz, who's the special ref' for the night. I mean, Schultz is just laying into him with punches that look ridiculously NOT worked. And that's before he gets blasted with a hockey stick. Crowd goes apeshit for the finish and then post-match Maxx Payne completely obliterates Saggs with a guitar. Then Dave Sullivan hits the scene and breaks a crutch on Knobbs. Wild and crazy and a ton of fun.

Goldberg v Diamond Dallas Page (Halloween Havoc, 10/25/98)

Totally boss match. Goes ten minutes and the crowd are molten the whole way through. Both guys are over huge here, too. I had forgotten how much so in the case of Page, but there's practically no difference between the reactions he's getting and the reactions Goldberg's getting. Starts off with them locking up and Page being tossed into the corner, Page running right back into a lock-up, getting tossed back into the corner, rinse, repeat a couple more times. Crowd pops huge for this because Page isn't backing down even if Goldberg is clearly throwing him around. Goldberg has the obvious strength advantage, but Page is a pitbull and doesn't plan on giving an inch. After he collects himself Page decides he'll try a different route, and this time takes Goldberg over with an armdrag. Crowd pops huge and Goldberg doesn't know what hit him, so Page tells him to bring it and Goldberg just fucking charges him and they both wind up barreling though the ropes. Schiavone's marking out on commentary and so am I because that was the best pissed off lock-up spot ever. At this point it turns into Goldberg being the most unfuckwithable video game boss in history while Page is trying to hit and run at pace while trying not to get close enough to him so that he won't get caught and murdered. Problem with that is Goldberg hardly being a dude you can easily "hit and run," which you see when Page drops down and tries to sweep his legs and Goldberg fucking BACKFLIPS out of the way. Of course Page tries it again and manages to get him down for about a second and a half, but that little sequence completely blew my mind. Next couple minutes has Goldberg in control, and it's all largely comfortable until he charges Page in the corner only for him to move and wind up going shoulder-first into the ring post. That's Page's opening, and I think it's Schiavone who says "The best way to dodge a freight truck is just to step out of the way," which a totally apt and perfect line. Next few minutes has Page working him over and Goldberg's pretty much exceptional as the wounded animal that could still rip your head off at any point. Last couple minutes are perfect. They literally hit 3 moves in total (not 3 moves each; 3 all together) in that space of time, but the best comparison I can give is the Rock/Austin match from Wrestlemania 19 where the pace at which they're moving from spot to spot is dead on and the "laying around" between each has the entire arena on edge. Don't mean to get fruity with the superlatives, but it really felt electric. Page thinking he's a Diamond Cutter away from the World Title only to turn around and have his lungs speared through his rib cage was an amazing moment. After that we finally do get the Diamond Cutter when Goldberg can't lift Page all the way up for the Jackhammer because of the injured shoulder, Page slipping behind him and dropping him with it. Crowd completely LOSE it at that. The whole idea that the Diamond Cutter can come out of nowhere, which has been built up for months at this point, is paid off here (they posed the question earlier of whether or not he could even get in close enough to hit it at all) and it's really just an incredible moment. At this point people are BELIEVING Page is gonna be the first person to actually beat this man. The nearfall is all it should be. Finish is great too, with Page trying to suplex Goldberg, Big Bill having none of that shit and just muscling him up for the Jackhammer. Seriously thought this was excellent and about as close to a WCW version of Warrior/Hogan as possible. By far my favourite match of either guy's career.

Monday, 6 December 2010

3 Midnight Express Matches

Midnight Express v Russian Assassins (Clash of the Champions V, 2/15/89)

Solid enough, but the Russians are pretty content to clubber and bearhug, and it wasn't the best clubbering and bearhugging you're likely to see. Also wanted more switcheroo shtick from them. CHEAT, MOTHERFUCKERS. Lane was also FIP here and, as much as I love Lane, you really want Bobby playing FIP if you're trying to sell shitty offence to the point of not making it look shitty. Or as shitty. Clean finish, at least.

Midnight Express v Brian Pillman & Z-Man (World Championship Wrestling, 8/18/90)

These teams had quite a few matches during 1990 that made TV or PPV. I think I've seen all but one of them over the course of the last couple years, but I'm having a hard time remembering anything specific about any of them other than their 3/10 TV match. And that's because I watched it last month (spoke about it here). I know their Capital Combat match is really good, and I'll probably wind up voting for it, but I'm drawing a blank on *why*. Gonna have to watch it again. Anyways, this was good. Didn't think it was as good as the 3/10 match, and that isn't going on my list, but you seriously can't go wrong with any MX from this year. In fairness, though, this had a clip job in the middle that takes us from the middle of Pillman and Zenk in full control to Pillman being the FIP. Just came out of nowhere and was pretty disappointing. Pillman's always a goof FIP, so that in itself isn't a let down, but I really would've liked to see how they transitioned into it. Run in finish doesn't help my mood any, but if you've seen enough MX from 1990 then you'll know that this is still worth giving up ten minutes for.

Midnight Express v The Steiner Brothers (World Championship Wrestling, 10/13/90)

Best match of the bunch, and one that I might vote for. There's millions of tags that I could end up voting for, though, so take that for what it's worth. Opening period is great with Bobby and Eaton stooging and bumping like kings. Scotty tosses them around like frisbees while Rick stands smiling like a big goof. I love goofy Rick Steiner. There's one spot where Lane is standing half in the ring-half on the apron yelling at fans, so Rick yanks the middle rope up and starts laughing like a big simple lummox because the whiny pretty boy has a sore winky. How is that NOT tha pro-rasslin'? He's also one of the most insane dudes ever when it comes to bumping for clotheslines. Countless times I've seen him spike himself on his own head to make a clothesline look bossy. I've been hard on Rick in the past (he was deplorable in that Steiners/Harts tag), but I love the shit outta goofy, semi-retarded man-child Rick Steiner. Both he and Scott take a short spell playing FIP. Crowd is totally rocking for both segments, especially the hot tag to Rick. Scott's a guy I like well enough as a face in peril, but when he's in there with heel Bobby Eaton you want to see him wrecking shit, and wreck shit he does. Nice finish caps it off and this might actually be my favourite Steiners tag of the year. Need to see all those matches with Doom again. Actually that Nasty Boys tag from Halloween Havoc is awesome...yeah, that one's my favourite. This one's second.